It never fails when I tell my teenage students that “yes,” something needs to be colored before being turned in, that I’ll get a few rolls of the eyes, or shrugged shoulders. The older we get, the more we seem to forget the importance of colors not only in our lives, but in the classroom, as well. When it comes to available teaching resources, there are few, which are simpler and cheaper than incorporating colors (when applicable) into your assignments.
Why is Color Important?
When asking for color to be part of a given assignment, it’s important that as an educator, it serves as a functional purpose, not necessarily just for aesthetics; especially when dealing with adolescent children. Yes, there certainly is a time and a place for coloring just for the pure joy of it; but, in an increasing climate of accountability, it’s a good idea that when you’re asking for color as part of the grade, it serves a distinct purpose. If color on a particular assignment serves a functional purpose, it’s used to obtain results such as:
improved attention span
lowering eye fatigue
enhancing the developmental processes
In fact, research shows that colors with a medium hue (i.e. beige, sandstone, etc.) help the human eye to relax, lowering eye fatigue (Birren, 1988). So, if an assignment requires the coloring of tiny spaces or shapes, keep this in mind when choosing the colors you’d like your students to use.
As for improving a child’s attention span, time and again, the use of color has been shown to improve a student’s ability to increase their productivity in the classroom. In fact, the use of color on any particular assignment helps the child stay focused on their current task (Hathaway, 1987).
When working with colors as part of a required assignment, it’s important to understand the age you’re dealing with in the classroom. By doing so, you’ll be helping the child get the most out of the colors being used. For example, it’s been shown that younger students prefer high contrast and bright colors, along with a desire to work with colors which create patterns. On the contrary, the older children get, their tastes in colors shift to softer and more subdued color shades, which offer a relaxing sensation when viewed (Mahnke, 1996).
Overall, the use of color with any student, regardless of age has great developmental benefits. Not only does a splash of color make assignments more appeasing to look at, but if done right, can have positive implications on the student’s academic growth, as well.
Birren, Faber. The Power of Color. Carol Publishing Group, New Jersey, 1997.
Hathaway, W. (1987), “Light, Colour, and Air Quality: Important Elemen
ts of the Learning Environment?” Education
Mahnke, Frank H. and Mahnke, Rudolf H. Color, Environment and Human Response. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, 1996.