The Impact of Interior Houseplants in University Classrooms on Course Performance and on Perceptions of the Course and Instructor
Doxey, Jennifer S.
While the aesthetic values of interior greenery are obvious, some research has suggested that interior living plants may offer some psychological and restorative values, such as reduced tension, better coping mechanisms, and increased concentration and attention. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of plants within a university classroom setting on course performance, course satisfaction, and student perceptions of the instructor. The study was designed to include a minimum of two classes of the same coursework, taught by the same professor in the same room. Three sets of two classes each, and 385 students were included within the study. Throughout the semester, the experimental class of students was treated by including an assortment of tropical plants within the classroom. Plants were not present in the control classroom of the study. A survey administered to each classroom of students at the end of the semester asked students to provide demographic data including class rank and gender. The professor for each course provided information on each student’s grade for the course, and replaced each student’s name with an assigned code number to insure anonymity of students. The Texas State University-San Marcos end-of-semester course evaluation survey was used to collect information on student satisfaction with the course and with the instructor. An analysis of variance test compared treatment and control group grades and course satisfaction evaluation scores. No statistically significant differences were found in course grades or course and instructor evaluation scores in comparisons of overall treatment and control groups, although present level of interest in the subject was higher for the overall treatment group. Individual course comparisons between treatment and control groups revealed no statistically significant differences in course grade nor course and instructor evaluation in the classroom with color, space, and a second-floor view of green trees. The treatment group received statistically significantly higher course grades than the control group in the third-floor cramped classroom with a view of the tops of trees. Comparisons between treatment and control groups of the stark, windowless classroom revealed statistically significant differences in course and instructor evaluation scores. Nine individual responses from the course and instructor evaluation and present interest in the subject were statistically significantly higher for the treatment group in the windowless environment. Comparisons of Freshman, Sophomore, and Senior grades and course and instructor evaluation scores revealed no statistically significant differences. Freshman and Junior interest in the subject was statistically significantly higher for the treatment group at the end of the semester. Junior course grades and course and instructor evaluation scores were statistically significantly higher for the treatment group when compared to the control group. No statistically significant differences in demographic comparisons of ethnicity, gender, or of those who indicated they took the course for reasons of “Major Elective”, “General Studies Required”, or “Minor Related Field”. “Major Required” treatment group grades and present level of interest in the subject were statistically significantly higher than the control group. “General Interest” course and instructor evaluation scores and level of interest in the subject at this time were also statistically significantly higher for the treatment group when compared to the control group. The results demonstrate value added to the classroom experience and help to justify consideration of the added expense of interior plants in meeting the goals of instructor and curriculum.
Classroom environment, House plants, Value added, Office decoration
Doxey, J. S. (2006). <i>The impact of interior houseplants in university classrooms on course performance and on perceptions of the course and instructor</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.