The temperatures are rising and Plattsburgh State students are enjoying the fresh air with summer on it’s way. Final exams are fastly approaching and students are faced with a challenge: Being able to enjoy the outdoors, while staying focused at the same time in order to finish the year on a good note.
Researchers from universities across the country are conducting a study to determine whether weather patterns can affect student productivity.
The creators of the study, Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, associate professor of operations Bradley R. Staats of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and postdoctoral fellow at the center for positive organizations Jooa Julia Lee of the Harvard Kennedy School recruited 136 college students through a study pool at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The study took place in February and March, which are months known for frequent changes in weather. For example, one day could be sunny weather, when the next could have a sky full of heavy clouds.
The purpose of the lab study was to determine whether the distraction created by the temptation of outside activities could in fact cause a decrease in productivity on sunny days.
Committing to hours of studying on a Sunday in the library can be challenging for students, especially those that are tempted to put off their assignments in order to spend time outside in the sunny and 75 degrees weather.
PSUC sophomore marketing and global supply chain management major Emily Defrancesco said she visits the library 3 to 4 times a week.
“I’m usually there for an hour or two, but it depends on how long it takes me to finish my assignments,” Defrancesco said.
For some students, a library full of other people can make it more difficult to stay focused.
PSUC Feinberg Library has personal study rooms, or carrels, on the second floor of the library that give students a quieter place to study.
“I only go for the carrels, and if there isn’t one (open), I just won’t go,” Defrancesco said.
Defrancesco said her favorite spot to study outside is at one of the picnic tables behind Macdonough Hall.
The researchers of the study predicted that participants would be especially productive on rainy days, simply because they’re not tempted by the sunny day activities such as a walk in the park or an afternoon trip to the beach.
While she enjoys the scenery, Defrancesco said she doesn’t get as much work done when she works outside.
PSUC sophomore communications major Lily Farrell said student do tend to avoid the library when it’s nice out.
“I think they would definitely rather study outside,” she said. “Or just be outside in general.”
Farrell said the lawn surrounding the newly renovated Hawkins pond is an ideal place for students to study.
“Within the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of people studying there,” she said. “I think it’s really cool.”
The researchers found that the participants who completed the task the fastest and the most accurately were the rainy-day control group participants.
“When it’s colder, I think more students would rather just camp out in the library all day,” Farrell said.
PSUC junior psychology major Cate Harris spends an average of 5 to 7 hours in the library each week. Harris said there are many different factors that can contribute to a student’s productivity while in the library.
“Sometimes it’s too loud where you’re sitting there. Sometimes you can’t even find a seat by yourself, and maybe you’re hungry but don’t want to stop working,” she said. “I can definitely understand the weather aspect of it, though, because the weather really affects my mood sometimes.”
Harris said some of her best work is done on rainy days.
“I love warm weather and sunshine, but working in the library on a cold rainy day is perfect for me,” she said. “There’s nothing else to do, so focusing on my assignments is easy.”
Learning how to study and be productive in many different environments can be a useful tool for students. It may be the difference between passing and failing.
Email Madison Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org