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Understanding how indoor environmental classroom conditions influence academic performance in higher education

Henk W. Brink (Research Group Facility Management, Research Centre for Built Environment NoorderRuimte, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands and Department of the Built Environment, Building Performance IEQ-Health, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Stefan C.M. Lechner (Research Group Facility Management, Research Centre for Built Environment NoorderRuimte, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Marcel G.L.C. Loomans (Department of the Built Environment, Building Performance IEQ-Health, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Mark P. Mobach (Research Group Facility Management, Research Centre for Built Environment NoorderRuimte, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands and Research Group Spatial Environment and the User, Research Centre Mission Zero, Hague University of Applied Sciences, Den Haag, The Netherlands)
Helianthe S.M. Kort (Department of the Built Environment, Building Performance IEQ-Health, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands and Research Group Technology for Healthcare Innovations, Research Centre Sustainable and Healthy Living, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Facilities

ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 13 June 2023

Issue publication date: 26 February 2024

187

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to qualitatively examine the relationship between the indoor environmental quality (IEQ), lecturers’ and students’ perceived internal responses and academic performance.

Design/methodology/approach

To capture user experiences with the IEQ in classrooms, semi-structured interviews with 11 lecturers and three focus group discussions with 24 students were conducted, transcribed, coded and analyzed using direct content analysis.

Findings

The findings show that lecturers and students experience poor thermal, lighting, acoustic and indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions that may influence their ability to teach and learn. Maintaining acceptable thermal and IAQ conditions was difficult for lecturers, as opening windows or doors caused noise disturbances. In uncomfortable conditions, lecturers may decide to give a break earlier or shorten a lecture. When students experienced discomfort, it may affect their ability to concentrate, their emotional status and their quality of learning.

Research limitations/implications

The findings originate from a relatively small sample, which might have limited the number and variety of identified associations between environment and users.

Practical implications

Maintaining acceptable air and thermal conditions will mitigate the need to open windows and doors. Keeping doors and windows closed will prevent noise disturbances and related distractions. This will support the quality of learning in classrooms. This study reveals the end users’ perspectives and preferences, which can inspire designers of new school buildings in higher education.

Originality/value

This study emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining optimal IEQ conditions to support the quality of teaching and learning. These conditions are particularly relevant when classroom occupancy rates are high or outdoor conditions are unfavourable.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the involved lecturers and students of the Hanze UAS for participating in this research project. The authors thank the Facility Management Department and the Executive Board of the Hanze UAS for their financial support.

Citation

Brink, H.W., Lechner, S.C.M., Loomans, M.G.L.C., Mobach, M.P. and Kort, H.S.M. (2024), "Understanding how indoor environmental classroom conditions influence academic performance in higher education", Facilities, Vol. 42 No. 3/4, pp. 185-200. https://doi.org/10.1108/F-12-2022-0164

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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