Full Research Portfolio – Does the Weather Affect your Student Workload?:
Research Opinion Piece:
In recent times students have experienced a more individual method of studying. In result of the recent pandemic, an online delivery for study has been favoured. There is no denying that the weather has a well-defined influence on human emotions, habits, and conscious exertion of power.
I often find myself wanting to study less during rainy days. I also find myself wanting to study earlier during sunny days just so I can enjoy the afternoon. Without really noticing it; the weather impacts; if I want to study, where I want to study and when I want to study. Subject BCM212 is about understanding research practice. For the entirety of this session, I have undergone a research project that explores the relationship between students and the weather. More particularly, does the weather impact the amount of effort students put into their student workloads? If so, what means does it impact students?
NOTE: Throughout my research I made it absolutely essential that all participants understood what was being researching and what their answers would entail. After students were informed on what was being researched, they were asked whether they still agreed to participate. Students were also required to either provide an email address or a phone number if at any time they wished to retract their participation or wanted a copy of the final report.
The answer to the first question is Yes, mostly. But how have we come to this answer and what does this mean for our follow up question? I began by establishing topic questions that would then be made into a multiple-choice survey. In the outcome of that survey, it was unanimous amongst all participants that a favoured weather forecast was evident and apparent to them, however, as I would factor into my consideration before the commencement of my research, I believed participants would not have the same weather preferences.
This is clear in the survey’s results outlining dividing opinions relatively evenly across all options. It is incredibly relevant to note three weather conditions participating students were not favouring: Hot (more than 30 degrees Celsius), Windy and Icy. Howard and Hoffman’s discussion on A multidimensional approach to the relationship between mood and weather found the relationship between negative moods and weather forecasts scored highly during high ambient temperatures. There was also evidence of decreased performance in adults during uncomfortably high and uncomfortably cold weather temperatures (Howard & Hoffman 1984, p.20). While we may be unsure what student’s desired weather may be, we have found our participant’s least desired weather across the board, which for the purpose of categorising, these weather conditions will be noted as undesired weather.
I began reflecting on the research early on. The questions began to show students were completing less task, interacting more socially and making room for activities that would negatively affect their student workload. I began to form a theory on whether student’s desired weather achieved less effort on student workloads. However, this was not simply the case. The research later found that the most popular answer over two questions insisted the weather had no impact on the participant’s study schedule. Furthermore, students would study earlier in the day during their preferred weather forecast and very few would avoid studying all together. In comparison, if the participants were not enjoying the weather – which we have noted as undesired weather (Hot, Windy or Icy) – 30% would avoid studying all together and none of the participants would adjust their study schedule to study earlier in the day. Instead, participants would push back their study time. This could link back to Howard and Hoffman’s discussion, my research findings reinforce the idea of decreased performance in adults during undesired weather (Howard & Hoffman 1984, p.20).
The Effects of Moderately Raised Classroom Temperatures and Classroom Ventilation Rate on the Performance of Schoolwork by Children (RP-1257) revealed variations in temperature between the region of 20oC to 25oC improved performance in classrooms. Although Pawel Wargocki and David P Wyon’s study focusses on children aged 10 to 12 years old, there is still important evidence on work performance that is not essential, but still important. It is interesting to note that Wargocki and Wyon’s optimal temperature region for increased classroom performance falls in line with 60 percent of my participants desired weather.
Prior research through reading indicated that there was also a relationship between the amount of time people spend outdoors having a contrasting effect on mood and cognition. This hypothesis was supported by findings in A Warm Heart and a Clear Head: The Contingent Effects of Weather on Mood and Cognition. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a similar relationship in my survey. My research found that it was a 50/50 split on whether students preferred to be indoors or outdoors during their favourite weather conditions. The variation in participant’s desired weather conditions understandably split the results in half.
Does the weather impact the amount of effort students put into their student workloads? If so, what means does it impact students?
As I began drawing closer towards my research’s conclusion, my survey revealed that it was unanimous amongst all participants that the weekly weather forecast was not taken into consideration when planning their weekly study schedule. Meaning participant’s study schedules would often change in respects to the weather, but not be determined by it.
The research also revealed that 70% of participants thought that the weather had an impact on their believed productivity, moreover, ultimately 90% of students would still study or stick to their study schedule during their desired weather. In comparison 30% of students would avoid studying all together during a weather forecast that is undesired. Proving my earlier theory on whether student’s desired weather achieved less effort on student workloads wrong.
In conclusion, there is clear evidence of the weather impacting the efforts students put into their study, however, the degree of impact is most noticeable during desired weather forecasts where students are 20% more likely to put in the effort to study in comparison to Hot, Windy or Icy weather or otherwise undesired weather.
The research and data indicate:
- None of the participants favoured Hot, Windy or Icy weather conditions (p. 9).
- There was a 50/50 split on whether students preferred to be indoors or outdoors during their favourite weather conditions (p. 10).
- 70% of participants believed that the weather had an impact on their believed productivity (p. 13).
- 90% of students would still study or stick to their study schedule during their desired weather (p. 12).
- 30% of students would avoid studying all together during a weather forecast that is undesired (p. 12).
- Students are 20% more likely to put in the effort to study during desired weather in comparison to undesired weather (p. 12).
- Students would study earlier in the day during their preferred weather forecast and very few would avoid studying all together (p. 12).
PDF of Research and Data:
Allen, MA & Fischer, GJ 1978, ‘Ambient temperature effects on paired associate learning*’, Ergonomics, vol 21, no. 2, pp. 95–101.
Barnston, AG 1988, ‘The effect of weather on mood, productivity, and frequency of emotional crisis in a temperate continental climate’, International Journal of Biometeorology, vol. 32, pp. 134–143. (1988).
Howard, E & Hoffman, MS 1984, ‘A multidimensional approach to the relationship between mood and weather’, British Journal of Psychology, vol. 75, pp. 15-23.
Keller, MC, Fredrickson BL, Ybarra, O, Côté, S, Johnson, K, Mikels, J, Conway, A & Wager, T 2005, ‘A Warm Heart and a Clear Head: The Contingent Effects of Weather on Mood and Cognition’, Psychological science, vol. 16, no. 9, pp. 724–731.
Wargocki, P & Wyon DP 2007, ‘The Effects of Moderately Raised Classroom Temperatures and Classroom Ventilation Rate on the Performance of Schoolwork by Children (RP-1257)’ Hvac&R Research, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 193–220.
Retrospectively, this semester has presented itself with challenges. My decision to undergo this research topic has also presented its challenges. The difficulties in writing my opinion piece, however, have given way to a renewal of the passion for my topic I had initially felt. I thought the outcome of my opinion piece and the research results could have been improve greatly by more answers from my cohort of students.
If I were to undergo this research again, I would find new and effective ways to reach out to participants. At certain points I was receiving less answers than I was giving out to my peers. This indicated either my topic was not attractive enough for participants or my method of curating participants over Twitter was ineffective. At first, I often found myself getting frustrated when my fieldwork did agree with prior research. Later I found this a blessing in disguise, it allowed me to consider how to better word a particular question or concentrate the matter more to answer a particular query I had in mind. My decision to make all the survey questions involving the opinion piece multiple choice was to encourage more students to answer as it would take up less time.
My ethical considerations during my research were good. Even though at no point did my participants wish to retract their participation from the research, there was an option to do so, and all participants were notified of this before finishing the survey. Participants also had the option of viewing the report and opinion piece when it was finished. Which at this point they could still retract their participation if for whatever reason they felt the need to. Overall, this research project has assisted me understand research practice and ethical considerations change for the better. I believe from this point I can research more effectively.