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Hot Temperatures Have Short-Term Negative Impact on Math Scores

Hot Temperatures Have Short-Term Negative Impact on Math Scores

According to a new study, research supports the fact that warmer temperatures negatively affect brain functions such as working memory and therefore can reduce student math scores in the short term.

The researchers, which included economist Joshua Graff Zivin and two colleagues from the University of California, San Diego, they were "able to study 8,003 children who had been given recurring math and reading assessment tests — sometimes on more than four separate occasions over time — in their home," according to The Washington Post.

"The dataset allowed them to overlay test scores with the average temperature in the county where they lived on the day of testing. And hence their very surprising result — 'we find that math performance declines linearly above 21C (70F), with the effect statistically significant beyond 26C (79F),' as the paper puts it. No effect was found for reading scores, however," the Post said.

The researchers had hypothesized that math scores were likely to be effected more than reading scores because research across different fields, like in the military, has consistently revealed that tasks that are more complex to execute are most affected by high temperatures.

Interestingly enough, the researchers found that the effect on math scores was short-term and that high temperatures had seemingly no long-term effect on math scores.

This admittedly perplexed the researchers, but they "ultimately concluded that, much like Florida building its beachside roads higher up in the face of rising seas, parents and children were probably engaging in a kind of “adaptation” to higher temperatures (even though they were not aware that’s what they were doing)."

All in all, the researchers believe the implications of the study prove that warming temperatures have an effect on cognitive functions and that "the human capacity for adaptation and adjustment over time can be a powerful thing."

Read the full story here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

05/13/2015

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