Trees Help Students Learn Better

Fri, February 19, 2016 2:03 PM | Danielle Corral

It turns out that trees outside a window do significantly more than provide a nice view.

A recent study shows that a view of trees outside a classroom window helps students retain information better and recover from stress quicker. Although previous research has shown positive associations between green landscapes (trees, grass, plants) and student academic performance, this is the first study to support causal relationships between exposure to green campus landscapes and improved student performance. 

In the randomized controlled experiment, 94 students at five different high schools were assigned to classrooms without windows, windows that opened up to a barren space (and no natural greenery) or windows with views of green space (trees, grass).  All students participated in a 30 minute activity and were then given a 10 minute break. It was specifically the 10 minute break that allowed (or didn’t allow) access to nature that led to marked improvement in a student’s attention capability and stress recovery (refer to the diagrams on the right).  The study reveals the important—but often overlooked--impact that school designs and green landscapes have on student academic performance.

This year, thanks to a grant from the Arizona State Forestry, we are launching a School Tree Maintenance and Replacement initiative in order to plant and care for trees on school property and to educate children about the importance of trees (refer to below for a full description of the initiative).

 

As studies continue to provide evidence of what we intuitively know—nature is a source of stress reduction and cognitive replenishment— it is important to integrate green space into school designs to provide students the proven benefits of a tree lined window. 

 

Resources:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291148332_Impact_of_views_to_school_landscapes_on_recovery_from_stress_and_mental_fatigue (download PDF of original study)

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-high-school-cultivates-global-garden-article-1.1820552 

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