IT IS a scientific fact that man is biologically programmed to adapt with the changes in their environment. But can Thomasians withstand the drastic changes brought by the shift in academic calendar and still perform well?

People use up energy to release heat and regulate their body temperature in order to survive. We have natural responses when exposed to different levels of heat that might affect our performance.

In his book “Human Thermal Environments: The Effects of Hot, Moderate and Cold Environments on Human Health, Comfort and Performance," Environmental Ergonomics professor Ken Parsons of the Loughborough University said people have different responses to different temperatures.

Changing temperatures can result in the clouding of consciousness, confusion, illness and collapse, he said. Other less obvious effects can be seen through thermoregulatory responses, such as hyperthermia, when the body keeps more heat than it releases, or hypothermia, when the body releases more heat than it keeps, which can be lethal for a person especially in the El Niño season.

Hotter temperatures can help the body move faster while sweating may affect a person’s grip.

Parsons said there is no simple direct relationship between climate and temperature and responses such as aggression and depression.

Authors Elizabeth Jago and Ken Tanner, in a compilation of studies from the University of Georgia, wrote that working in comfortable temperature could boost performance.

Lee Herrington's study in 1952 found out that temperatures above 27 degrees Celsius (ºC) tend to reduce work efficiency and output. Jago and Tanner said that as temperature and humidity increased, "achievement and task performance deteriorated, attention spans decreased, and students reported greater discomfort."

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Their study concluded that cooler classrooms created increased feelings of comfort, activity, and productivity. They added that air condition could be considered as the most critical factor in providing an optimum thermal environment for learning.

‘Summer mode’

According to the study by Glen Earthman, a professor of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, temperature, heating and air quality are the most important individual elements for student achievements.

Studies have found that students perform mental tasks best in rooms kept at temperatures in the range of 20 to 23ºC, mainly because they are comfortable. As students report greater discomfort, their achievement and task performance deteriorate.

Claudette Agnes, the head of the Department of Psychology of the College of Science, said it was possible for students to adjust to the academic calendar shift but with some challenges.

Because of a "summer mode" where students are geared for vacation in the months of March to June, students may find it harder to adjust to the academic calendar shift because they are used to treating the period of summer classes as vacation, Agnes said.

"Thomasians are aware that other students from other schools are enjoying their summer vacation," she said. "Some students cannot join their family outings because they still have classes."

She added that one primary advantage of this adjustment is for students to be ready for the ASEAN integration.

Agnes suggested that students should start conditioning themselves for their bodies to cope with the academic shift both physically and mentally, and also advised students to start adapting to the new calendar through “slowly accepting its existence.” Maritz L. Lubo and Rhenn Anthony S. Taguiam

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