February 16, 2016 /
Jason Galliger

Why Trees Help Students Learn Better

Teddy Roosevelt said that “native ability with education is like a tree without fruit.” But what if I told you that there is new evidence to suggest that trees actually can help students learn more effectively?

A new study conducted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor William Sullivan and his PhD student, Dongying Li, presents just that — a causal connection between trees and learning.

They argue that context impacts learning. Indeed, previous studies have shown that physical characteristics of school environments like lighting, noise reduction, indoor air quality, temperature and the age of the building can all have an impact.

Accessible green spaces in schools have also been shown to have benefits. Like reducing stress, enhancing physical activity and play, mental health, concentration and environmental awareness. These are reasons why we advocate for, and plant trees at schools across the District.

But what about trees?

To establish a link, Sullivan and Li conducted an experiment where they tested different classroom window views and how they affected students stress and attention levels, along with information retention.

What they found was surprising — students who had a green window view (a view with either greenery or a tree present) recovered from mental fatigue faster and were able to pay attention longer and thus retain information better.

For us, the study confirms something we’ve already known. Trees are vital to school grounds!

Every fall and spring we plant hundreds of trees at public, private and charter schools in D.C. through our School Tree Planting program. Apply now! Applications are accepted year-round. Applications for a planting date in Fall 2016 (October – December) or Spring 2017 (March – May) are due May 1, 2016.

Check out the full story on our blog!