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Does Using Colored Paper Improve Learning or Academic Performance?

Color and Learning Experiment


Young woman writing on sticky notes
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I've had a number of people suggest that using colored paper rather than plain old white paper can improve learning and performance. One teacher suggested that printing text on green paper helps students read better, while another claimed that yellow paper helps students perform better on math exams.

How accurate are these claims? Does the color of the paper really have an impact on how much a student learns or how well they perform on an exam? These questions form a great basis for a psychology experiment that you can perform yourself. If you are looking for a psychology experiment idea for a high school or college course, consider testing whether the color of paper impacts test results.

Possible Research Questions

  • Does using colored paper increase scores on a math test?

  • Does using colored paper increase reading comprehension?

  • Does printing text on green paper increase reading comprehension over other colors of paper, such as yellow, blue or brown?

Developing Your Hypothesis

After you have chosen a research question, your next step is to develop a hypothesis. Your hypothesis should be an educated guess about what you think will happen in the experiment. For example, a possible hypothesis might be one of the following:

  • Students who take a math test printed on colored paper will perform better than students who take the same math test printed on white paper.

  • Students who read text printed on colored paper will perform better on a reading comprehension test than students who read the same text printed on white paper.

Choose Participants, Develop Study Materials and Identify Your Key Variables

When it comes to choosing participants for your study, talk to your instructor. In some cases, you might be able to conduct your experiment with other students in your psychology course. If this is not possible, it is essential to get permission from your teacher before proceeding to work with any group of participants.

After you have selected a group of participants, create the materials that you will use in your experiment. For this psychology experiment, your materials might include a math test printed on different colors of paper, reading selections printed on different colors of paper and reading comprehension tests.

Next, determine the key variables of your experiment. These variables may differ depending on the exact hypothesis you decided to investigate. For example, if you are researching whether or not color paper increases reading comprehension, your independent variable would be the color of the paper and the dependent variable would be the scores on the reading comprehension test.

Collect and Analyze Data, Report on the Results

After you have collected the data for your experiment, analyze the results. Did the color of the paper used have any effect on your dependent variable? Were the results of the experiment statistically significant? Write up your results in the manner required by your instructor, such as a bulletin board presentation or a lab report.

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