Learning is inhibited by heat exposure, both internationally and within the United States

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According to new research coauthored by Patrick Behrer, Jisung Park and Joshua Goodman, extreme heat negatively impacts students’ abilities to learn and could deepen educational inequities throughout the world. The results of this study demonstrate the long-term impact climate change has on human capital and cognitive skills development. This leads into larger questions about how climate change will play a role in determining educational achievement and economic growth, in relation to socioeconomic status, within and across countries.

“Temperature is a surprisingly disruptive factor for students — both for high-stakes test-taking and for learning over the longer term,” said Park.

“Heat seems to negatively impact all students but the effects appear to be much worse for more vulnerable students,” Behrer said. “As a result, it seems likely that increasing heat exposure may exacerbate existing educational inequalities.”