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Community Engagement

Classroom color research

Data reveals the transformative power of paint in learning environments

Classroom color research

Connecting color in the classroom to enhanced student and teacher engagement.

In 2015, our signature COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® program launched its initial project by transforming a school with both fresh colors and energy. As a leading color authority, we have a deep understanding of the positive impact that color can have on a space, and its potential to impact moods and behavior. On the day of our very first Colorful Communities project and at dozens of projects since, we have witnessed the power of color and paint in spaces for students to learn and grow. 

Student engagement and their curiosity, interest in and passion for learning has been linked to a variety of positive academic outcomes. Our focus on investing in positive educational outcomes paired with our color expertise, led us to explore how classroom environments can play a role in impacting engagement.

In current times, we know that the environment for education is like none other.  As school districts, educators and families navigate how to provide a valuable education experience via classroom, virtual learning methods, or a combination of both, safety is the primary concern. Our path to discover the impacts of color in classroom aligns with the sentiments of many teachers and parents, who must prepare learning environments to encourage a calm, focused and positive experience for students, in the classroom and at home. See a recent blog post from our research partner, RAND Corporation on this very topic.

Read on for more on our findings.

Exploring the Impact of Color on Classrooms

Painting classrooms with colors specifically intended to enhance learning can improve both students’ and teachers’ experiences in the classroom and increase their feelings of engagement in learning.

That is the key finding of a new study funded by PPG and conducted in partnership with Campos and RAND Corporation. The research focused on measuring students’ and teachers’ attitudes and engagement in three school districts in the U.S., before and after classrooms were painted, guided by a PPG color and design expert.

Download Executive Summary (PDF)

2020 Research highlights

2020 Research highlights

  • Students believed the new paint colors made them happier and helped them to learn
  • Teachers noticed that students were calmer, more focused, and more engaged
  • In newly painted classrooms, teachers felt more energetic and empowered
  • Students and teachers in control classrooms that were not painted had essentially little to no change across attitudes and engagement
  • These insights can provide educators, administrators, and parents with greater insight into how paint color can create conditions that enhance student learning

View Infographic (PDF)
Dee Schlotter

Senior Color Marketing Manager

Dee Schlotter

Pittsburgh, PA


At a time when educators and students are facing apprehensions and many unknowns in a quest to return to classrooms, student engagement continues to be an important factor in achieving a positive and productive learning environment. We experience the impact of certain colors in our everyday lives - from colors that make us feel calm and comforted to colors that energize and mobilize us. The findings show how powerfully color works to create happiness and enhance engagement and moods within one of the most transformative spaces for students. 


Impact in action

In 2015, we launched our Colorful Communities initiative within the walls of Propel Schools in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Five years later, our partnership and the visible and tangible impacts of that very first project continue. Hear from Principal Robert Powell as he shares his insights on why these transformational projects are linked to enhanced learning environments and better outcomes for his students.

  Watch Video

Color Choices for Learning

PPG knows color and the science behind it. Our team is experienced in applying principles of Color Psychology to maximize educational environments.

As part of our 2020 research, we sought to assist educators in exploring colors that generate desired outcomes in their unique classroom settings. Creating focus, energizing, activating. Every color contributes to a student’s experience within a classroom. 

Interested in learning more about color section advice in learning spaces? Read our PPG expert Q&A.

Also, consider these quick tips:

  • Rooms with different purposes require different color schemes.
  • Certain colors can enhance areas of high energy and creativity or promote calm, concentration and clear thinking. Where and how color is used matters.
  • Balance is key; use of too much bold or bright can be overstimulating. Consider the desired impact of the color and how much time a student spends in the space.
  • Student age is an important factor; primary schools often use warm off whites or light creams as a base with brighter colors as accents, while middle schools are better suited for bright to medium bodied colors.
2018 Survey Highlights

2018 Survey Highlights

Research funded by PPG in 2017-18 found that classroom design and color can contribute to improved student engagement, though resources are scarce to invest in these classroom improvements. These findings were the result of a survey reaching 900+ teachers, parents, and school administrators from across the U.S.

View Infographic (PDF)

Interested in learning more about PPG’s research on color in the classroom? Access our full report and more information by contacting colorfulcommunities@ppg.com.

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