What Research Tells Us: Green Schools and Student Achievement

What Research Tells Us: Green Schools and Student Achievement

Glen I. Earthman (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJTEM.2016010102
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With the advent of Green Schools in the educational establishment, the theory was advanced that these schools would have a great deal of influence upon student and teacher performance. However, there has been little research conducted using certified Green School because of the paucity of such schools. The National Research Council of the National Academies of Science enlisted a group of scholars to investigate the possible relationship between Green Schools and student achievement. The committee had difficulty finding any research available that addressed the topic. The findings from existing research have produced mixed results. At the same time, research efforts on the relationship between Green Schools and student and teacher performance have slowed and different variables have been employed to try to find out the possible influence upon the users of the Green School. This recent development is encouraged by the US Green Buildings Council, which is developing a new research agenda.
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Research Strands

There seems to be several large strands of research associated with Green or Highly Sustainable School buildings. These strands of research deal with the influence Green Schools have upon user performance, health, cognitive development, attitudes, the cost effectiveness of green components, and how the educational component is implemented. A very large corpus of research studies exist dealing with the efficiency and economy of Green Schools. This first body of research deals with the cost of a sustainable building and the resulting payback that the building produces. Research findings have well documented that Green Schools sufficiently pay for their greenness through the systems incorporated in the school buildings and that the payback for incorporating sustainability material into the buildings is relatively short. This is welcomed news for school systems that have an already strained operating budget. This corpus of research studies, however, is beyond the scope of this discussion.

Of equal importance about Green Schools is the fact that the buildings possess an exciting, influential, and educationally sound environment that supports the learner. It is to the latter feature of a Green School that this article is addressed. The possible relationship between a Green School building and student performance is a very important concept that has been investigated and which needs more research effort. This strand or line of research could be described as the studies completed by researchers trying to investigate the relationship between Green Schools and student and teacher performance. The third strand or line of research is represented by those researchers who are investigating the educational efforts of teachers in meeting the criterion of making the school building a teaching tool. The fourth strand of research seems to be those efforts to investigate the possible influence Green Schools have upon the health, cognitive development, and attitudes of students and users of the school building.

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