Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



Windowless school buildings are currently being proposed as a design solution to the problems of vandalism, energy conservation, and building costs. However, little consideration is being given to the effects of windowless classrooms on the students and teachers inside. The intent of this thesis was to describe the effect of windowless classrooms on three specific areas of cognitive behavior: rote learning, concept formation, and perceptual ability. In addition, a description of student and teacher affective behavior, based on formal observations, was included. Two identical sixth grade classes were selected for this study. The experimental period was divided into two three-week phases. Class A1 began the experimental period with all existing windows covered. Class A2 was left unmodified. Students and classes were allowed to function as usual during each experimental phase. Students in each class were randomly divided into three test groups for the testing phases of the study. Testing took place in the same classroom in which students were currently functioning. Group C1 received a rote learning task and was asked to memorize a sequence of seven nonsense trigrams. Group C2 received a concept formation test that involved combining the properties of size, shape, and color into a correct concept. Group C3 was given the MacGregor Perceptual Index. During the second experimental phase the environmental conditions were reversed for the two classrooms. In addition, observations were taken in the areas of aggressive behavior, destructive behavior, and boredom. Analysis of variance and a simple main effects analysis revealed the following significant (p<.01) results:

1. For the rote learning task, class A1 performed better in a windowed environment while class A2 performed better in a windowless environment.

2. For the conceptual learning task, class A1 performed better in a windowless environment while class A2 performed better in a windowed environment.

3. No differences were noted in the perceptual tasks.

Thus, the classes responded to the windowless environment in the opposite manner from each other, and each task group within the class responded differently to the windowless environment. The analysis of the affective behavior indicated that aggression in both classes increased in a windowless environment, as did teacher frustration. It was concluded that it was not possible to pass a definitive judgement that windowless classrooms are detrimental to student cognition and learning. Students were significantly affected by their environment, but no clear relationships could be drawn, probably due to the influence of unidentified variables. Suggestions for further research are offered.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert Carl Cohlmeyer

Second Committee Member

Robert Carlton Walters

Third Committee Member

Anne P. Taylor

Included in

Architecture Commons