It’s important to know that noise in the classroom is not just distracting – it can severely impede learning especially when coupled with poor acoustics in the classroom.

Poor acoustics in the classroom can have a significantly negative impact on “Speech Intelligibility” – the ability to clearly hear and understand the speaker. Children must be able to hear and understand what is being said in order for learning to occur.

The impact of poor acoustics varies and is largely dependent on the age of the child. For younger children who do not have the vocabulary or the maturity to understand how a conversation should unfold, filling in the gaps can be next to impossible whilst noise in general can create much stress for children of all ages in a learning environment. For all inclusive schools an even greater emphasis on acoustic control is required, as special needs children require higher quality auditory environments.

To fulfill the role of learning environment, classrooms should have acoustic properties that allow at least 90% of all useful information leaving a talker’s mouth to reach the ear of listeners.

If a teacher is required to raise her voice in order to be heard, then it is safe to assume there is a noise issue. Fortunately,  noise from chatter  can to some degree be controlled through teaching techniques. Some teachers in primary years make use of a traffic light system as in indicator to students of noise levels.

Noise and Acoustics cannot be separated from each other and both need to be reviewed when assessing a classroom to determine best solution to improve either or both for better overall results.

ACOUSTIC RECOMMENDATIONS

AGE BACKGROUND NOISE
(Occupied)
AMBIENT NOISE
(Unoccupied)
REVERBERATION TIME
(Unoccupied)
6-7 years < 45 dBA < 28 dBA < 0.4s
8-9 years < 47 dBA < 35 dBA < 0.4s
10-11 years < 50 dBA < 39 dBA <0.4s
12+ years < 50 dBA < 40 dBA <0.4s

IDEAL SPEECH TRANSMISSION INDEX (STI) RECOMMENDATIONS

AGE GROUP STI
6-7 years <0.75
8-9 years <0.75
10-11 years <0.75
12+ years <0.75
Hearing/language Impaired <0.75