1.0 Background of Study The use of colour in education Colour is a medium and device understood by all people Colour is a powerful tool, which has many uses in education. It can be used to get attention, enhance clarity, establish a code, label things in nature and differentiate items. Teachers also use various colours to influence learning outcomes. For example, in schools we are asked to stick to blue or black ink. Teachers usually use red ink to correct assignments, homework and test papers. It is done to draw our attention to the mistakes we make. In one way, red is threatening and makes us feel anxious in the sense that we will remember not to repeat the points highlighted in red. Also, while showing the differences between different concepts and to emphasize important points, teachers generally make use of coloured chalks so as to make the differences prominent. Furthermore, in the classroom, the writing board is often black in colour so that white colour will be easily visible and now with the advent of white boards more colours can be used on the board. Another example is the use of a highlighter to mark an important piece of information in a text book. In this sense, colours used in the right proportion can enhance our learning outcomes and benefit us in a number of ways. Colour draws on both symbolic and cognitive powers to affect learning, facilitating memorization and identification of concept. Colour also influences the way we see and process information; it can improve our ability to remember both words and pictures (Myers 2004). Colours can play a positive role in affecting learners’ cognitive retention (Dzulkifli , 2013). However, the effects of colour on ….of college students are not stated… For enhanced academic performance, it’s important to know how colour influences learning and what colours are best for specific age levels and environments. Instructional designers must consider the age, gender and culture of his/her audience when designing courses, choose colours wisely and use them generously or sparingly where appropriate. It is crucial for us to know how to use colour for educational purposes. Colour is not just represented in vision, and it can evoke emotional responses (e.g., Vandewalle et al., 2010), aesthetic judgments (e.g., Taylor & Franklin, 2012), and associations to objects and concepts (e.g., Palmer & Schloss, 2010). There is also a growing body of recent evidence that colour can affect performance on cognitive tasks (e.g., see Elliot & Maier, 2014). Whilst many of the early investigations into the effect of colour on cognition and behaviour produced null effects (e.g., Stone & English, 1998), much of this research had poor control over the colours or how colours were viewed, or lacked appropriate rigorous experimental control (see Elliot & Maier, 2007; Whitfield & Whiltshire, 1990). More recent research has attempted to provide a rigorous framework for the investigation of colour performance effects and has revealed a generally consistent pattern of colour effects. 1.1 Problem statement Studies have variously reported on the effects of colour on academic achievements of learners and the influence of colour on memory performance. Colours compared with achromatic type have been examined in various forms, from prints to slides and other computer-driven technologies. however, students and teachers alike have not yet seem to fully utilize colour as a main tool in education. Students are not keen on using colured markers to make notes and teacjers don’t use coloured markers and powerpoint slides to teach. Notes and textbooks are not printed in colour. However, literature has not reported much on samples drawn from adult students of the post-graduate level/class. This may originate from the assumption that coloured materials are always preferred and that the young and adults respond to colour in the same way. It therefore becomes logical to question whether colour impacts memory retention of graduate students and what colours are best for enhancing educational performance this age group. As we make our way into the age of visual multimedia education, there is a need for us to practice more specific visual literacy such as colour. This calls for the appropriate use of the design element: colour, in the use of educational materials. Therefore, it is crucial for us to know how can colours improve memory. 1.2 Purpose of study The purpose of this study therefore was to examine the effect of colour on the memory performance of undergraduate students. The study also aimed to find out which colour category has a greater effect on their retention rate. Research question Does colour improve memory performance Does colour improve concentration Significance of the study This study will contribute to the quality improvement of tertiary education in college, universities and any other institutions for undergraduate students. Education is important for the future as students advance to the next stage in life colours should be included to match their learing progress. Happier and more productive learning journey experience to adulthod to the working industry in the near future. 2.0 Literature review There have been many past researches linking colour to human cognitive abilities, including memory performance and attention rate. This is common as human beings are always looking for ways to enhance their cognitive abilities. The following literature reviews the connection between colours with memory, attention, and emotion. Farley and Grant (1976) were among the earliest researchers that came out with a theory suggesting that colours have a great effect on human memory. This finding was based on their research on attention and cognition. They used colour and non-colour multimedia presentations to conduct experiments on the influence of colour on attention and memory performance. They found that coloured multimedia presentations resulted in better attention and memory performance than that of non-coloured multimedia presentations. This is significant to the present research as the use of colours is involved in evaluating the human memory and their ability to concentrate. According to Boyatzis and Varghese (1994), children can verbally express their emotional responses to colours. 69 percent of children show positive emotional responses towards colour. There are distinct colour-emotion associations among children. Children show positive emotions towards bright colours such as red, blue and pink and negative emotions towards dark colours such as brown, black and gray. Children’s psychological response towards bright colour became increasingly positive with age. Girls like brighter colours and dislike darker colours wherelse boys show positive emotional reactions towrds dark colours. As the past research is based on children, the present research is focuses on students of the undergraduate level. It is normal to question the responses once children reach a mature level. They learn to think critically as they mature. Onasanya (2002) looked into the effectiveness of colour on the cognitive ability of a group of students exposed to photographic prints. His findings showed that the group of students that were presented with coloured photographic prints had a marginal advantage over the black and white print group. He proved that colour was effective on the cognitive achievements of students. A similar finding was reported by Smilek, Dixon, and Merikle (2002) that investigated the influence of colour on memory performance. They used digit numbers in four different conditions: black, white, congruent, and incongruent colour conditions. Undergraduate students were utilized as participants in the study. Participants were given three minutes to study the stimuli and another three minutes to recall the stimuli. Significant differences were found between recall conditions. The results indicate that the memory performance of the participants is better in the congruent colour condition compared to the other conditions. The current study codeucted plans to find out wether colour improves memory performance of undergraduate students. Olurinola and Tayo (2015) suggested that colour has the potential to increase chances of environmental stimuli to be encoded, stored, and retrieved successfully. The use of colour does increase retention rate of learners, especially adult learners. However, the choice of colours can be manipulated to influence the extent of human memory performance. This may be a result of visual experience of the adult learners which creates memories of past stimuli that later serve as a context for perceiving new stimuli. They also suggested that colour should be given preference in text illustration as against the black on white prints predominantly used in texts, in order for students to have a richer learning experience. For instance, knowing which colours will allow learners to retain more information would greatly impact students’ academic performance. The present research assesses wether colour should be widely integrated in college and university education. Pan (2012) utilized visual geometrical shapes in different colours. The participants were told to memorize the colours and shape of the items presented. When asked to recognize the colours and shapes of the items that were presented earlier, participants performed better in recognizing the colour of the items than the shapes. The result supported his previous studies in which colour had a stronger attention effect than shape. This study suggests that colours can produce a higher level of attention and is effective to increase memory performance. Therefore, it can be said that colours have the tendency to capture a higher attention level which leads to better memory performance. This research aims to find out if the claim is true: colour imroves concentration and memory performance. Methods A questionnaire survey was used in this study. The questionnaire survey consists of 11 questions. It is created with Google Forms and sent out to participants via social media. The questions are about the use of colour in their studies and if it affects their ability to memorise and concentrate, whether it makes their studying more productive, entertaining and motivating. Thirty participants participated in the questionnaire survey. The participants are made up of 18 females and 12 males. Participants are aged around 17 to 25 years old as this study aims to find out the effect of colour on students of college and university levels. Identity of participants is anonymous. Results Figure 4.1 The chart above shows that 83.3 percent of participants answered ‘yes’ to to the question “do you focus better when colour is involved?”, while 16.7 percent answered ‘no’ to the question. This indicates that participants attention level increases when colour is present. Figure 4.2 The above chart shows the results of the question “Do you memorise things that are coloured easily as compared to black and white?”. 93.3 percent which is 28 out of 30 of the participants answered ‘yes’ to the question, with only 2 participants answering ‘no’. The result indicates a clear response that participants memory improves when colour is included. Figure 4.3 80 percent of participants agree that looking at colours improves their mood while 20 percent disagree with the statement. This goes to show that most participants’ mood is alleviated when they look at colours. Figure 4.4 Based on the chart above, majority of students agree that the use of colours make studying or learning more entertaining, with 83.3 percent of participants agreeing to the statement and only 16.7 percent disagreeing. Discussion The results for this study showed that colour does have a positive influence on the memory and concentration of undergraduate students. The results obtained from this study confirmed the results and findings of previous studies by other researchers such as Farley and Grant (1976), Onasanya (2002), Smilek, Dixon, and Merikle (2002), and Pan (2012) which states that colours bring about better attention and memory performance. Other than that, the findings also match Boyatzis and Varghese (1994) theory of strong colour-emotion association for children. This theory proved to be true to college and university students too. They are able to express their emotional responses to colours. Students do have a positive change in emotion when lookig at colours. The results also support the findings of Olurinola and Tayo (2015) which states that the retention rate of adult learners increases when colour is present. It also supports their claims on using colours for text illustration for a more entertaining learming experience for students. Conclusion The findings for this research proved that colour enables college and university students to focus better and memorise better. It reinforces the idea that colour improves memory performance as mentioned in the past studies. Students find that the use of colours make studying and learning more entertaining. Hence, the implication of colour in higher level education should be conducted to give students a more fulfilling learning process. Some limitations faced in the conduct of this study is that the students should be asked the specific type of colour or colour range that best impact their cognitive abilities. They should be asked if congruent or incongruent colours make any differences when it comes to memorising text and pictures. Further studies should be done taking into account the gender, age groups of participants, different styles of students eg. Science students and art students etc.,people with disabilities the working class elderly children and differentaiating different colour range such as dark and light colours as well as colours in the colour spectrum. An appropriate test should be carried out to determine if participants are able to retain the information when colour is present versus when colour is absent, also taking into account the types of colurs used. Links http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/col.21949/full More experimental works exploring the influence of colour on the human cognitive processes were conducted since then. (Pan, 2012; Smilek, Dixon, Cudahy, & Merikle, 2002; Spence, Wong, Rusan & Rastegar, 2006) Reference Farley, F. H., & Grant, A. P. (1976). AROUSAL AND COGNITION: MEMORY FOR COLOR VERSUS BLACK AND WHITE MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATION. Journal Of Psychology, 94(1), 147. Boyatzis, C. J., & Varghese, R. (1994). Children’s emotional associations with colors. Journal Of Genetic Psychology, (1), 77. Daniel, S., Mike J., D., Cera, C., & Philip M., M. (2002). Synesthetic Color Experiences Influence Memory. Psychological Science, (6), 548. Olurinola, O., & Tayo, O. (2015). Colour in Learning: Its Effect on the Retention Rate of Graduate Students. Journal Of Education And Practice, 6(14), 1-5. Pan, Y. (2010). Attentional capture by working memory contents. Canadian Journal Of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne De Psychologie Expérimentale, 64(2), 124-128. doi:10.1037/a0019109 Onasanya, S.A. (2002). The effect of colour on students’ cognitive performance in instruction using photographic prints. Ilorin Journal of Education, (21), 156-166. (not apa) Dzulkifli. M. & Mustafar. M. (2013). The Influence of Colour on Memory Performance: A Review. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. 20(2),3. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=MustafarMF Nazzaro, M. (2008). Colors and learning. In B. Hoffman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. Retrieved from http://coe.sdsu.edu/EET/articles/colorlearning.
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