The Effect of Campus Study Spaces on Mental Wellbeing at Dalhousie University: Does the Lack of Natural Light in the Killam Library Reduce Students Mental Wellbeing?
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The purpose of this study is to test whether the lack of natural light in the Killam Library reduces the mental wellbeing of students during the winter season at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This study is important because the Killam Library stacks do not provide access to adequate natural light, and the lack of natural light has been proven to reduce the mental wellbeing of students (Grimaldil, Partonen, Saarni, Aromaa, & Lonnqvist, 2008). As well as this, the mental wellbeing of students has been shown to decrease during the winter season, as there is less daylight hours (Grimaldil et al, 2008). Therefore, it is important to consider how lighting in the winter season affects the mental wellbeing of students at Dalhousie University. This study focused on students in the stacks of the Killam Library (experiment) and the quiet area of the Collaborative Health Education Building (CHEB) (control). The selection of the two study areas centred around the level of variation between their lighting systems. The Killam Library stacks has minimal window installations and currently supports fluorescent lighting (Dalhousie University, n.d.). The CHEB quiet area is equipped with LED lights, along with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a source of natural light throughout the day (Dalhousie University, n.d.). Students studying in both study areas were surveyed, and information was collected on preference of campus study areas, average time spent per week studying in a specific study area, important qualities of a study area, the value of light quality in a study environment, physical and emotional responses to study spaces, and lastly, suggestions for improvements to study areas. Overall, 336 students were sampled. Data was analyzed on excel using chi-squared tests. It was found that students studying in the Killam Library had lower energy levels and higher stress levels than students in the CHEB. These results may be due to the poor lighting quality in the Killam Library. As well as this, students from both sample areas primarily suggested that lighting be improved in the stacks of Killam Library. As students studying in this area have lower energy levels and higher stress levels, and low lighting quality has been proven to cause decrease energy and increase stress, it is recommended that the lighting in the Killam Library be improved (Grimaldil et al, 2008). However, creating window space in the Killam Library is not possible due to its structure. Therefore, Seasonal Affective Disorder lights should be installed in the Killam Library stacks to improve the mental wellbeing of students studying in that area.