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Evidence-Based Association of Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort in Elementary and Secondary Classrooms with Students' Absenteeism and Academic Performance

Shihan Deng, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

There is limited evidence that associates the classroom’s indoor air quality(IAQ) and thermal comfort(TC) with students’ illness-related absenteeism(IRA), total absenteeism(TA), or standardized test scores, and limited evidence that examines the difference of the associations separately between heating and non-heating seasons. Furthermore, based on the knowledge of the author, a study that examines the direct and indirect association of IAQ and TC with IRA, TA, and Math or Reading scores is never performed in the literature. To fill these knowledge gaps, this study was performed, including 85 elementary and 28 middle school classrooms from two school districts in the Midwestern United States. A wide collection of data of IAQ and TC metrics were performed and repeated three times per classroom throughout an academic year. Three models were constructed and adjustment was made for demographic and socio-economic variables.^ The results of Model-1 show the IAQ and TC conditions are differently associated with IRA between heating and non-heating seasons before adjustment. Fine particles were associated with IRA during non-heating season. CO 2 concentration was associated with IRA during heating season. Formaldehyde concentration was significantly associated with TA after adjustment. The results of Model-2 indicate ventilation rate and CO2 concentrations are associated with Reading percentiles while formaldehyde concentration is associated with Math percentiles before adjustment. Absolute humidity is associated with Math percentiles after adjustment. The results of Model-3 conclude the formaldehyde concentration is directly associated with Math percentiles and indirectly associated with Math percentiles through absenteeism.^ The results of this dissertation have relevance for engineers, school administrators, and parents who interested in reducing absenteeism and improving Standardized test scores. Efforts made to reduce the IRA should target different IAQ and TC conditions of the classroom between heating and non-heating seasons. Improvement of Math and Reading scores were predicted with the improvement of different IAQ and TC conditions. Part of the improvement of test scores came from the effect of IAQ and TC conditions on absenteeism.^

Subject Area

Engineering

Recommended Citation

Deng, Shihan, "Evidence-Based Association of Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort in Elementary and Secondary Classrooms with Students' Absenteeism and Academic Performance" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10272227.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI10272227

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