Evaluating children’s perceptions

In the 10 participating countries, data were gathered by the country teams via a questionnaire, and a pooled database was created by the NEIH using STATA/SE 10.0 software for the statistical analysis. A total of 6,758 children participated in the study (49.1 percent girls and 50.9 percent boys). The gender distribution of the children was fairly similar in the 10 countries. Temperature, humidity and CO2 concentrations were monitored in classrooms in seven countries using the comfort questionnaire.

The average age of the children who participated in the comfort assessment was around 10 years. The overall mean age was 9.82 and +/- 1.31 years. The variance in age among the countries was statistically significant.

The overall time that the children who participated in the comfort assessment spent in the classroom was 24.4 hours per week, with a minimum of 21.1 hours per week and a maximum of 27.7 hours per week.

The distribution of children's perceptions of air freshness in the classroom in relation to sitting place at the time of completing the questionnaire can be seen by clicking on the link below.


Additional information

The distribution of children's perceptions of air freshness was similar regardless of whether they were sitting close to the window, in the middle of the room, or close to the door (

Figure A28).

Perception of air freshness at the moment, by sitting place in relation to windows and doors

 




One of the most important questions regarding the children’s perception of comfort was: “Do you like your classroom?” The distribution of answers is shown in

Figure 20.

Distribution of responses to the question “Do you like your classroom?”

More than 80 percent of the children said that they liked their classroom more or less, while 11 percent considered their classroom to be adequate.



The distribution of answers related to perceived air temperature is shown in

Figure 21.

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive air temperature in the classroom?”

Around 7 percent of children felt that the classroom was not warm enough; 48 percent of the children thought that the classroom was warmer than optimal; and 44.7 percent of the children considered the temperature to be adequate.



Perceived air temperatures showed an increasing trend with increasing measured air temperatures, as expected


(
Figure 22),

Measured mean temperature (°C ) in relation to the perceived air temperature in the classroom

although the standard deviation was very wide, demonstrating large individual variability in perceptions of temperature. However, the results indicate that the children perceived an optimal temperature to be between 21 and 22°C.



The questionnaire also evaluated children’s perception of air temperature in the classroom according to seating in relation to windows and doors. More children sitting near a window thought the temperature to be very warm than those sitting in the middle of the room. In most of the investigated classrooms the heating system was under or close to the windows, contributing to this perception among the children.

In classrooms with open windows, significantly more children perceived the temperature as good. The percentage of children who responded that they were disturbed by an open window was no different among those sitting near to (8.5 percent) or far from (8.3 percent) the window or in the middle of the room (8.4 percent). In classrooms with an open door, more children felt the temperature to be higher, although the difference was not statistically significant. The percentage of children who responded that they were disturbed by an open door was no different among those sitting near to the window (5.3 percent), near to the door (5.3 percent) or in the middle of the room (5.4 percent).

Although there were significant differences among the countries, overall children’s attitudes to ventilation levels were balanced between stuffiness and draughtiness

(
Figure 23).

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive ventilation in the classroom?”



The tendency in the results of measured relative humidity corresponded to the perceived level of ventilation

(
Figure 24),

Measured mean relative humidity (%) and perceptions of ventilation in the classroom

although the relationship was not clearly linear.



In terms of air quality,

Figure 25

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive air freshness in the classroom at the beginning of the teaching period?

shows that about 11 percent of the children found the air in the classroom to be bad/not fresh, even at the beginning of the teaching period, and

Figure 26

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive air freshness in the classroom at the end of the teaching period?”

shows that about 28 percent of the children found it to be bad/not fresh at the end of the teaching period.

 

At the time the questionnaires were completed, air quality in the classroom was perceived as quite good in most of the countries. This subjective perception was well supported by the measured CO2 concentrations in seven countries

(
Figure 27).

Measured mean CO2 concentrations and perceptions of air freshness in the classroom



There was no significant difference in perceptions of air freshness at the time the questionnaire was completed in terms of seating in relation to windows or doors. Significantly more children thought the air quality to be better in classrooms with open windows than in classrooms with closed windows (click on the link below).


Additional information

Significantly more children thought the air quality to be better in classrooms with open windows than in classrooms with closed windows

(
Figure A29).

Perception of air freshness at the moment in classrooms with and without open windows

 




Figure 28

Prevalence (%) of children with a headache in relation to current perception of air quality in the classroom

shows the percentage of children with a headache in relation to current perception of air quality in the classroom, associated with CO2 concentration.

 


Additional information

Significantly more children had a headache among those who felt the air quality to be bad (27.2 percent) or even neutral (20.9 percent) than among those who felt the air quality was good (16.9 percent). As girls complained significantly more frequently of headaches (21.8 percent) than boys (17.6 percent), and younger children had headaches more frequently than older children, after adjustment for gender and age logistic regression analysis revealed that in bad air the risk of headache increased by 96 percent, and even in neutral air quality by 31 percent, compared to good air quality.




Figure 29

Distribution of responses to the question “Where do you usually spend your break time?”

shows the distribution of answers to the question “Where do you usually spend your break time?” In total, 41.2 percent of children stayed in the classroom during the breaks. Although there were significant differences in perceptions of air quality during the breaks between classroom, corridor and schoolyard, most children still tended to spend the breaks inside the classroom.



Figure 30

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive the air quality during break time?”

shows children’s perceptions of air quality in relation to where they spent their break time.



Figure 31

Distribution of responses to the question “How would you rate the noise level in the classroom at the moment?”

shows the distribution of answers to the question about the perceived level of noise in the classroom at the time the questionnaire was completed. Almost one-third of the children considered the classroom to be noisy, at least to some extent. In general, one-third of the children were not disturbed by the noise. Others were disturbed in most cases by outside noise, and by inside noise in some countries (Italy and Kazakhstan)

(
Figure 32).

Distribution of responses to the question “What distracts your attention during lessons?”



Perceptions of noise levels differed among the children who participated in the comfort assessment. Around one-third of the children were disturbed by outside noise during lessons, although more than half of the children were not disturbed significantly.

Lighting in the classroom affects children’s performance at school.

Figure 33

Distribution of responses to the question “How do you perceive the lighting in the classroom?”

shows the distribution of answers to the question about children’s perception of lighting in the classroom. With the exception of Serbia, Italy and Slovakia, about 60 percent of children found the classroom to be lighter than optimal. With the exception of Hungary, most children claimed not to be disturbed by the light being on

(
Figure 34).

Distribution of responses to the question “Do you find it disturbing if the light is on?”

Overall, 22 percent of children were disturbed if the light was off

(
Figure 35).

Distribution of responses to the question “Do you find it disturbing if the light is off?”

 

 
Ministero Dell'ambiente Italian Trust Fund