Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Natural systems education: Incorporating biomimicry into the learning environment
by Houk, Heather A., M.A., Prescott College, 2012, 103; 1510724
Abstract (Summary)

Is it possible to improve or enhance a student's learning through the alteration of the physical classroom environment by introducing biomimicry? This study tested the hypothesis that introducing a natural biomimic into a classroom has a positive effect on neurological function. Following the introduction of artificial sunlight into a learning environment, I tested students' long-term retention of information taught by their classroom instructors. SunSquares light boxes, typically used for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, were used to introduce each student to 10,000 lux of additional light for 30 minutes each. This process was replicated in three classrooms with varying levels of natural light for two weeks. Students completed a 'pre-light' test, to serve as a control on the learning and a 'post-light' test following the introduction of the lights. These two tests offered an opportunity to quantitatively examine the efficacy of light-boxes on long-term memory in the classroom. Though the results in this study were inconclusive, I believe this study to have merit in furthering the research in light therapy and memory connections. Current research suggests that an increase in long-term memory storage is likely the result of bolstered serotonin levels in the brain as a direct result of exposure to light at specific times in the body cycle (Storm, et al., 2008). Given this outcome, the researcher encourages others to investigate further as to whether there are additional neurological, emotional and behavioral improvements through the stimulation of the visual cortex and long-term memory transfer through the hippocampus with photons utilized in light box photo-therapy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Verbeten, Amy
Commitee: Cox Caniglia, Noel, DeZeeuw Spencer, Jordana
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 50/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Neurosciences, Psychobiology, Educational psychology, Science education
Keywords: Biomimicry, Brain-based learning, Circadian rhythm, Education, Light therapy, Seasonal affective disorder
Publication Number: 1510724
ISBN: 9781267351302
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