Do poor weather conditions affect student performance?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Do poor weather conditions affect student performance?

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An overwhelming majority of teachers report that poor weather conditions do affect student performance. There could be multiple explanations for this phenomenon. If weather conditions are bad enough that some students are unable to attend class, obviously their grade and performance may suffer. Snow storms which make some roads, especially in rural areas, impassable could be just such a situation. While main arterial roads to the school will be open students in outlying areas may be snowed in.

Inactivity can also lead to a dip in performance levels. When the weather is inhospitable outside and students are unable to burn off excess energy during break times they may be less able to focus on lessons. This is particularly noticeable with younger children who have a decreased ability to sit still of extended periods of time. The benefit of physical exercise to brain function is well documented, so not being able to run around and play at lunch can affect performance.

There is always the basic distraction factor to consider as well. When it's storming outside students spend more time looking out the window that watching the teacher. One student notices the rain falling sideways and before you know it class is halted so everyone can take a look. The sound of thunder is just as distracting.

The other factor that probably accounts for student performance issues is mood related. Dismal weather makes you feel less motivated and focussed in general. When the weather system is prolonged the affect is more pronounced. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a documented syndrome that affects many people both young and old. Is it any wonder that students are less able to concentrate or feel less motivated to complete their work when the weather is bad? There has been research to show that light therapy can help people with SAD, helping prove the theory that lack of exposure to sunlight in winter months is detrimental for some people. Even if your symptoms are not severe enough to be SAD lesser feelings of malaise may be present.

Unless we learn to control the weather or build ourselves a big bubble in which to live, weather conditions will continue to affect people in all walks of life and teachers will continue to see student performance issues.