Student Performance and High School Landscapes

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  • Landscape and Urban Planning 97 (2010) 273282

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    Landscape and Urban Planning

    journa l homepage: www.e lsev ier .com/ l

    Student performance and high school landscapes

    Rodney HUniversity of M

    a r t i c l

    Article history:Received 25 AReceived in reAccepted 25 JuAvailable onlin

    Keywords:Nature contacAcademic achiClassroom behMental fatigueStressHigh school st


    uch veast


    hrubres, gces oly releas oc stat

    1. Introduction

    High school students have a great need for restorative andstress-reducing environments, and this need may be growing.School worcollege appels in recenof Educatioschool-relagroup (Ains2006). In adthroughoutwith the hig2009; Freem

    At the saof and accestress reducbased restoscores (Hesamong chilorder (Fabeand Faber T

    Present ad101 Temple BuTel.: +1 734 70

    E-mail add

    2000). Researchers have also hypothesized that such restorationshould be positively linkedwith better behavior. For example, nd-ings have associated greater nature exposure with enhanced levelsof self-discipline in children (Faber Taylor et al., 2002). In addition,

    0169-2046/$ doi:10.1016/j.k loads and the competition that students face in thelication process have increased to unprecedented lev-t years (Mundy, 2005; Ramrez, 2009; U.S. Departmentn, 2005). Research dealing with life events has citedted issues as the leading sources of stress for this agelie et al., 1996; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005; Stuart,dition, high school dropout rates in major urban areasthe United States are high and student satisfactionh school experience has decreased signicantly (Dillon,an, 2004).me time, a growing body of research has linked viewsss to nature with restoration from mental fatigue andtion.With regard tochildrenand teenagers, thisnature-ration process has been associated with higher testchong Mahone Group, 2003a), better attention levelsdren suffering from attention-decit hyperactivity dis-r Taylor and Kuo, 2009; Faber Taylor et al., 2001; Kuoaylor, 2004), and greater cognitive functioning (Wells,

    dress: University of Illinois, Department of Landscape Architecture,ell Hall, MC-620, 611 Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.9 0811.ress:

    both recovery from mental fatigue and stress were postulated toexplain the positive connections found between the presence ofindoor classroom plants and reductions in misbehaviors, feelingsof unfriendliness, and hours of sick leave of junior high school stu-dents (Han, 2009). These cognitive, social, and behavior benetsfound among children and younger teenagers, then, should trans-late into better overall high school student performance involvingacademic performance, interest in staying in school, and classroombehaviors.

    How important is such contact with outdoor nature for highstudents while they are at school? What features of the campuslandscape have the most affect on student academic achievementand behavior? Surprisingly, there appears to be little informationto answer these questions, particularly with respect to high schoolaged students.

    1.1. Nature contact benets in diverse settings

    1.1.1. School settingAs Owens (1997, p. 158) suggested, there has been limited

    interest in improvements to the design of exterior spaces at highschools. In the context of elementary schools, the HeschongMahone Group (2003a) found that ample classroom window views(i.e., 100 sq. ft. of window area or greater per classroom) that

    see front matter 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.landurbplan.2010.06.011. Matsuoka

    ichigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

    e i n f o

    ugust 2009vised form 23 May 2010ne 2010e 24 July 2010



    a b s t r a c t

    High school students today are expertime, a growing body of research hasstress reduction. How important are sgated 101 public high schools in southnearby nature in student academic actematically positive relationships betwwith greater quantities of trees and sassociated with standardized test scofour-year college, and fewer occurrenlacking natural features are negativetureless landscapes included large araccounted for student socio-economienrollment.ocate / landurbplan

    : Examining the links

    g unprecedented levels of school-related stress. At the samed views of nature with restoration from mental fatigue andiews for students while they are at school? This study investi-ern Michigan to examine the role played by the availability ofment and behavior. The analyses revealed consistent and sys-nature exposure and student performance. Specically, viewss from cafeteria as well as classroom windows are positivelyraduation rates, percentages of students planning to attend af criminal behavior. In addition, large expanses of landscapeated to these same test scores and college plans. These fea-f campus lawns, athletic elds, and parking lots. All analysesus and racial/ethnic makeup, building age, and size of school

    2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  • 274 R.H. Matsuoka / Landscape and Urban Planning 97 (2010) 273282

    included vegetation (i.e., primarily trees or shrubs) or human activ-ity (e.g., playground, lunch area, parking lot), and objects in thefar distance were associated with higher scores on standardizedtests. Other studies in the grade school context have concen-trated on pschool. Thesural playsca2007), motiors (DymeTranter andMalone, 20grounds (O

    1.1.2. OtherIn the co

    tings maymany hourthat viewswith increaand life satiand reduce1998; Hescal., 1998; Sh

    In additits of viewsin residentiGidlf-Gun2001; Kearet al., 1998;Tzoulas et acollege dorMoore, 1982005), and

    Agrowinexperiencesuals while athese studienature affecstudents performanc

    1.2. Explan

    Researchts resultincited explaevolutionar

    Attentiohas the pocapabilitieswhen the cAn individudecreased able, distractThis theorygreater levecess of comhead of mities, dealinpriorities, psents the nof all in teduration reronments pprocess (Ka

    In addition, attention restoration theory proposes that restora-tive environments possess four important components, namelybeing away, extent, fascination, and compatibility (Kaplan andKaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1995). In terms of this study, exposure

    terof bosionploranmenppor.cho-reduscioitialnt phe emve thate le1; Uummive potiont theredu

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    higin slaygrounds in preschool, kindergarten, and elementarye studieshave foundpositive connectionsbetweennat-pes and enhanced physical activity (Dyment and Bell,or development (Fjrtoft, 2004), creative play behav-nt and Bell, 2007; Herrington and Studtmann, 1998;Malone, 2004), environmental learning (Tranter and

    04), and preference as compared to traditional play-zdemir and Yilmaz, 2008).

    settingsntext of the present study, research in workplace set-

    be the most pertinent as high school students spends in school buildings. Studies have provided evidenceof nature out of an ofce or factory are associatedsed employee productivity, enhanced feelings of jobsfaction, greater psychological and physical well-being,d levels of frustration and stress (Heerwagen and Wise,hong Mahone Group, 2003b; Kaplan, 1993a; Leather etin, 2007).on, the psychological, social, and physical health bene-of andaccess tonature for individuals havebeen shownal settings (DeVries et al., 2003; FaberTaylor et al., 2002;narsson and hrstrm, 2007; Jackson, 2003; Kaplan,ney, 2006; Kuo, 2001; Kuo and Sullivan, 2001a,b; KuoLee et al., 2008; Maas et al., 2009; Sullivan et al., 2004;l., 2007; Wells, 2000; Wells and Evans, 2003) includingmitories (Tennessen and Cimprich, 1995), prisons (e.g.,1), and homes for elderly people (Ottosson and Grahn,also hospital settings (Curtis et al., 2007; Ulrich, 1984).gbodyof research, therefore, suggests that viewsof andwith nearby nature provide many benets for individ-t work, at home, imprisoned, or hospitalized. In spite ofs, however, we know very little about how exposure tots a tremendously important population high schoolat a time in their development when their academice will set them on a life-course.

    ations for these nature benets

    ers have advanced varied explanations for the bene-g from contact with nature. Two of the most widelynations are the attention restoration and the psycho-y theories.n restoration theory proposes that contact with naturetential to restore an individuals directed attention. Directed attention fatigue, or mental fatigue, occursapacity to focus or concentrate is reduced by experiencing such fatigue not only may have ability to concentrate, but also may become more irrita-ible, impulsive, antisocial, accident prone, and stressed.proposes that four sequential stages, which representls of restorativeness, are experienced during the pro-plete mental restoration. These include clearing theiscellaneous thoughts, resting directed attention abil-g with unresolved concerns, and nally reecting onossibilities, values, actions, and goals. Reection repre-al level of restorativeness, and is the most demanding

    rms of both the quality of the environment and thequired (Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989, p. 197). Natural envi-ossess qualities that are supportive of this restorationplan and Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1993b, 1995).

    to greasensesimmertainexenviroand suibility)

    Psystress-subconuals inpleasapositivnegatimoderal., 199

    In scogniton emsupporstress-

    1.3. St

    In lexplortics thnatureinvesticontacnationsetting

    Theto natuincludpropos

    1. Hightheperf

    2. Highcamstudsure

    3. Grewithschoman

    4. A stingwithbe pnatuacro

    2. Me

    2.1. H

    Thelocatedlevels of nature can provide students with enhancedth psychological distance from school (being away) andin conceptual surroundings of sufcient scope to sus-tion (extent). Suchexposure canalsoprovideadditionaltal features that are effortlessly engaging (fascination)

    tive of a students need for mental restoration (compat-

    evolutionary theory posits that natural settings have acing and calming effect on an individual. Immediate,us emotional responses play a key role in an individ-reaction to the environment. Nature provides a visuallyysical surrounding that reduces stress by producingotions, sustaining nontaxing attention, and restrictingoughts. Neurophysiological arousal is returned to morevels, fostering an overall sense of well-being (Hartig etlrich et al., 1991).ary, the attention restoration theory concentrates on

    rocesses while the psycho-evolutionary theory focusesally based mechanisms. Nevertheless, both theoriesidea that nature functions well as a restorative and

    cing environment (Hartig et al., 2003).


    of the limited prior research, this study is necessarily. Many of the school indoor and outdoor characteris-ere utilized to assess student exposure and access tonot been investigated. In addition, this study will not

    the possible mechanisms explaining how such natureroves student performance, but will utilize the expla-ited by researchers in contexts largely other than school

    ral proposition of this study is that increased exposureill be positively associated with student performance,oth student academic achievement and behavior. Thiswas tested with the following hypotheses:

    evels of nature in the views that students have fromol buildings will be positively associated with studentnce.vels of nature as determined by objectively measuredlandscape elements will be positively associated withperformance, in support of the more subjective mea-lized to investigate hypothesis #1.bility of students to view or come into direct contacture, calculated by investigating building features andolicy, will be positively associated with student perfor-

    cal interaction exists between the size of school build-ows and the levels of nature in the views afforded

    ard to student performance. This interaction effect willve with the effect of larger windows increasing acrossvels, and the effect of higher nature levels increasingindow size.

    hools studied

    h schools studied consisted of 101 public schoolsoutheastern Michigan, USA (Fig. 1). The schools were

  • R.H. Matsuoka / Landscape and Urban Planning 97 (2010) 273282 275

    Fig. 1

    limited totation, layoand climateprivate highcational ormwith elemestudy.

    Of the 13were not ingoing extenschools eithcess that wallotted forlocated in iareas, and s

    Informavice-principand unscheto inventorAdditional dDepartmen. The high schools studied were located in Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland, Wash

    one region to minimize differences in campus vege-uts, and building designs, and school district policies. To obtain a more homogenous sample of students,schools, public high schools offering alternative edu-agnet programs, and high schools thatwere combinedntary or middle schools were excluded from the

    7 schools originally contacted, thirty-six schools (26%)cluded in the nal database. Two schools were under-sive renovations and the school districts of thirty-fourer denied permission or required an approval pro-

    as too lengthy to be completed during the time perioddata collection. Fourteen of the excluded schools werenner-cities, eight in other urban settings, eight in ruralix were urban-fringe schools.tion about each facilitywas obtained from the principal,al, or other front ofce personnel through interviewsduled drop-in questioning. Site visits were conductedy the landscape and building features of each school.ata were obtained from the web sites of the Michigan

    t of Education and Information Technology, Standard

    and PoorsGeologicalLivingston cfor the 200

    2.2. Constru

    2.2.1. StudeThe inve

    involved ththat studenvegetationpotential ac Vieviews fromrated by thepus. These tstudent actas separatetenaw, and Wayne Counties, Michigan (highlighted in gray).

    School Matters, Public School Review, United StatesSurvey (USGS), and the GIS departments of Wayne andounties, Michigan. All of the information collected was

    42005 academic school year.

    cts and measures

    nt exposure to naturestigation into student exposure to nature at each schoolree groups of measures. First, the views of nature thatts had from the school buildings were rated. Second,levels on the campuses were measured. Third, studentcess to this vegetation was determined.

    ws of nature ratings. The degrees of naturalness in thethe school cafeteria and the classroomswere separatelyprincipal researcher, based on site visits to each cam-

    wo measures represent nature contact during differentivities, were not signicantly correlated, and were keptvariables:

  • 276 R.H. Matsuoka / Landscape and Urban Planning 97 (2010) 273282

    ach sc

    Cafeteriaschools pThe scalenitions usFig. 2):0- No vi

    outdoo1- All bu

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    Classroomall of thethe samethen averclassroomture, matfor shoprooms (e.calculatio Vegamount of vthe followin

    pusandIS daFig. 2. Examples of the level of naturalness in the view from e

    nature the level of naturalness in the view from eachri...


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