Professor Barbara Prashnig said learning can be affected by a whole range of external factors.
Some pupils prefer bright lights, others dim; some work better to music, others prefer silence; some are at their best in the morning, others in the afternoon; some want to learn formally; others informally; some (mostly boys) have a greater need for mobility, others less so.
There are also different sensory strengths among pupils that learning has to take into account, she said: some pupils are more visual than others and some are more auditory, while some will respond more readily to tactile factors and others to the kinesthetic senses of experiencing things by doing them or acting intuitively.
Other external influences on pupils' learning include fluorescent lighting, Professor Prashnig continued. These work by flashing on and off around 100 times a second. This releases the hormone cortisol, which interferes with the energy supply of those brain cells used to recall facts.
She added:"During prolonged exposure to fluorescent light, many students get stressed, intellectually tired, restless and agitated."