Understanding how indoor environmental classroom conditions influence academic performance in higher education

Henk Willem Brink (First author), Stefan Lechner, Marcel G.L.C. Loomans, Mark P. Mobach, Helianthe S.M. Kort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aims to qualitatively examine the relationship between the indoor environmental quality (IEQ), lecturers’ and students’ perceived internal responses and academic performance.

To capture user experiences with the IEQ in classrooms, semi-structured interviews with 11 lecturers and three focus group discussions with 24 students were conducted, transcribed, coded and analyzed using direct content analysis.

The findings show that lecturers and students experience poor thermal, lighting, acoustic and indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions that may influence their ability to teach and learn. Maintaining acceptable thermal and IAQ conditions was difficult for lecturers, as opening windows or doors caused noise disturbances. In uncomfortable conditions, lecturers may decide to give a break earlier or shorten a lecture. When students experienced discomfort, it may affect their ability to concentrate, their emotional status and their quality of learning.

Research limitations/implications
The findings originate from a relatively small sample, which might have limited the number and variety of identified associations between environment and users.

Practical implications
Maintaining acceptable air and thermal conditions will mitigate the need to open windows and doors. Keeping doors and windows closed will prevent noise disturbances and related distractions. This will support the quality of learning in classrooms. This study reveals the end users’ perspectives and preferences, which can inspire designers of new school buildings in higher education.

This study emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining optimal IEQ conditions to support the quality of teaching and learning. These conditions are particularly relevant when classroom occupancy rates are high or outdoor conditions are unfavourable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ahead-of-print
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2023


  • emotion
  • students
  • lecturers
  • cognition
  • quality of teaching and learning
  • perceived comfort


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