Colored Paper and Impact on Learning Experiment

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Some people say that using colored paper or text rather than plain white paper or black font can improve learning and performance. One claim is that printing text on green paper helps students read better, while another is that yellow paper helps students perform better on math exams. How accurate are these claims? Here's how to design a psychology experiment around this theory.

The Foundation of a Psychology Experiment

Does the color of the paper or the color of the text 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 and/or the color of the text impacts test results or memory.

Possible Research Questions

When preparing an experiment about color and learning, you may choose one of these questions to study in your experiment:

  • Does using colored paper increase scores on a math test?
  • Does using a different colored font increase scores on a math test?
  • Does using colored paper increase reading comprehension?
  • Does using a different colored font increase reading comprehension?
  • Does printing text on green paper increase reading comprehension over other colors of paper, such as yellow, blue or brown?
  • What color text works best for reading comprehension?
  • What color text works best for math scores?
  • Does using colored paper boost memory?

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 or science 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/or with different colored fonts 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 colored 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 and 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 instructors, such as a bulletin board presentation or a lab report.

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By Kendra Cherry, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."