Better learning in clean schools?

6th of January 2023 Article by John Griep
Better learning in clean schools?

John Griep at VSR in the Netherlands, on research into the link between clean schools and learning.

It is the end of the year and this is traditionally the time for good intentions. Ours are not so different in form (doing research) from previous years; they are different in content, though. Indeed, in 2023, we will be conducting research into the effect of cleaning perceptions on school learning outcomes. Suppose you could contribute to student learning outcomes as a cleaning sector?

We have long known that there is a difference between technical cleaning quality and the cleaning perception of building users. VSR has been researching how this data compares for years. For example, excellent handling of complaints may not have a direct positive impact on the number of fingerprints, but it does affect the appreciation you receive from customers as a cleaning company. Moreover, previous research shows that a better cleaning experience has a positive effect on office worker performance.

So it is worthwhile for both clients and cleaning service providers to invest in enhancing the cleaning experience.

VSR is aiming to work with Schoonmakend Nederland, the Dutch trade association for professional cleaning and window-cleaning companies, to conduct research into the perception of cleaning quality in education and its effect on learning outcomes. The goal is to broaden the research into other environments, such as offices.

Lecturer and researcher Herman Kok of Wageningen University & Research previously conducted similar research in higher education. His perception survey among students and teachers showed that cleaning perception is related to learning outcomes. Kok argues: if you want to improve the perception of cleaning quality and therefore learning outcomes, then don’t just focus on cleaning hours, but think holistically. According to him, in relation to our perception of ‘clean’, we respond to, among other things:

• Visibility/optics
• Symmetry in the space (is the room tidy or not?)
• Odour
• Colour: green and brown are not positive; light blue and light green are
• Surface (rough or flat)
• Personnel (clothing of cleaners, eg. no sweat stains)

In all, he included 49 such elements in his research. Influencing these factors costs a cleaning company almost nothing more, and does pay off handsomely. Creating a ‘wow effect’ can increase the cleaning experience by between two and 10 per cent.

And that pays off. Because whereas there is a link between cleaning experience and well-being, engagement and productivity in business, in schools there seems to be a link between cleaning experience and school performance. Reason enough for perception measurement in education. We are looking forward to working with Schoonmakend Nederland in this as well.

In addition to new research, VSR will continue to invest in ongoing research in 2023, such as into the storage of moistened microfibre cloths, disinfection with UVC and the training readiness of cleaning workers.

Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited