Colours affect our decision making and learning capacities within our brain. If you’re not convinced, think about how many times you’ve driven down a road because of a green traffic light or stopped at a red stop sign.
Colour is an important factor that should be taken seriously and it’s time we should use its advantages in how we learn. It should be a key component of how we foster our learning capabilities through visual learning.
So, what colours are helping us to learn? What colours are too distracting? This would be down to how colour affects the neurological pathways in your brain leading to biochemical responses.
Using the right colour, and the correct selection and placement can seriously affect feelings, attention, and behaviour when learning regarding human psychology.
Research with Alzheimer’s patients has shown that colour cues improve memory and that learners recall images in colour more easily than images in black and white.
Let’s look at some colours and how these can massively improve learning capabilities, especially regarding online learning.
We’ll cover the biological responses that these elicit for the overall demographic of the population. It’s key to note that this isn’t a definitive science and some colours may invoke different responses for different individuals. For instance, the colour blue may invoke a bad response if you’re scared of water.
Green - Improves Concentration
Think about some beautiful scenery. Most images in your head will depict the colour green, rolling green hills and lush green forests spring to mind. These low wavelength colours promote restfulness and calm leading to improved efficiency and focus.
This means that green is a perfect colour for promoting concentration and decreasing restlessness.
Green is a good colour for keeping long-term concentration, engagement and clarity, making it a good choice for an office or school. This is in direct contradiction to red which is seen to provoke a stimulating and exciting response. Maybe it helps in the short term, but stimulation has to tail off at some point.
There is some real scientific evidence behind this hypothesis. “Some studies have shown that people who work in green offices have higher rates of job satisfaction, and consumers have been shown to spend more time shopping in stores that are painted green”.
Another study, led by Dr. Kate Lee, examined 150 university students. "She gave the group a boring, monotonous task that dragged their attention span to a breaking point, pressing a series of numbers over and over as they read off a computer screen. The students were told not to press keys when the number three appeared on the screen. Then break time came, and in a 40-second window half of the group viewed a green roof, while the others looked out onto a bare concrete roof. Amazingly, the research showed that students who looked at the green view made fewer errors and had overall better concentration".
If revising or learning, it might be a good idea to work with the colour green if you’re bored of monotonous or tedious material. This could revitalise your learning capacity and capabilities.
Orange - Mood Lifter
Think about a nice orange sun setting over the horizon - it’s nice and soothing, isn’t it. Orange can be a welcoming and mood-lifting colour for learners, which in turn promotes comfort and improves neural functioning within the brain.
There are some theories that state the colour orange can actually increase oxygen supply to the brain which can stimulate mental activity. Increases in oxygen supply also lead to feeling invigorated and setting you up with the ‘get things done’ mentality. Experts have even stated that the colour orange should be used for painting test-centres and exam halls.
This does come at a cost, avoid bolder orange colours if your learners are young and naturally energetic. This is a bad colour for those prone to overstimulation or hyperactive disabilities like ADHD.
Many studies have found that when colours are used to emphasize a feature or piece of content on the screen, learners’ attention levels increase with the colour orange.
Of course, the best colours for this are warm colours, like orange. So we can say that when you’re looking to highlight certain facts or important information, orange can be a better choice than the traditional red
Blue - Productivity
Research into the colour blue is useful for learners undertaking highly intellectually challenging workloads. That is work which requires a high cognitive load like, academics or programmers.
Blue is best used for learning situations which are challenging and is very ingrained already within school environments. Blue paper, blue ink, or blue highlighting can be used to help improve reading comprehension too.
Blue in general it seems is a relaxing and calming colour, but lighter shades will seem more ‘friendly’ while darker ones seem a little more sombre.
Blue is the perfect colour for promoting high thought levels but too much blue can be linked towards a sense of coldness and detachment.
Combination of Colours
If completing work or revising, experts state that the use of these three colours can enhance the peoples learning experience depending on the type of work.
It will be useful to use these three colours in combination with one another to truly stimulate brain capabilities.
For online learning, it would be useful to implement these colours whilst using online resources such as Sherpa.