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Influence of limitedly visible leafy indoor plants on the psychology, behavior, and health of students at a junior high school in Taiwan

Summary


Plants in classrooms benefit students’ emotions, behavior, and health

The classroom environment can play an important role in students’ learning and academic performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of living plants in a classroom environment on students’ psychology, behavior and health. Han was particularly concerned about the many factors that contribute to students’ stress and anxiety such as those in cultural settings where significant priority is given to academic achievement. His overall purpose was to see if plants in a classroom could reduce stress and foster healthy relationships while contributing to students’ well-being in other positive ways.

To investigate the relationship between plants in a classroom and students’ psychology, behavior and health, Han conducted a study with two similar classrooms, located next to each other, of sophomore students at a high school in Taiwan. Han used surveys every two weeks to assess students’ emotions. He also collected objective information on students’ academic performance, health, and behavior. After an initial assessment period, he brought six small trees into the back of one of the classrooms to serve as the experimental group.

In comparing data from the two classrooms, Han found that students in the experimental classroom where the plants were introduced had significantly higher scores than the regular classroom in terms of preference, comfort, and friendliness. In addition, he found that students in the classroom with plants had significantly fewer sick leave hours and punishment records than students in the regular classroom. There were no statistically significant differences in academic achievement, although those in the experimental classroom did have higher test scores on academic measures than those in the other classroom. The primary benefits were tied to mental health and behavior.

Han’s research provides valuable insight into the benefits that even small amounts of nature can provide to students and suggests promising avenues for future research. As the author notes, the study is unusual in studying these effects within a classroom environment in a non-Western culture.

Citation

Han, K. T., (2009). Influence of limitedly visible leafy indoor plants on the psychology, behavior, and health of students at a junior high school in Taiwan. Environment and Behavior, 41(5), 658-692.

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