Teaching Styles and Classroom Acoustics

The choice of classroom acoustic solutions are largely dependent on the pedagogy and classroom design.

Traditional: Teacher up front instructing to students in more traditional desks set out in rows. These classrooms tend to be more smaller rooms and house up to 30 students in general.

Future Learning: Teacher and students move around an agile 21st Century Classroom. These classrooms tend to be larger open spaces with up to 100 students occupying the space at any given time with several teachers. In general these classes require a combination of different solutions to produce optimum classroom acoustics.

Speech Intelligibility and Classroom Acoustics

Speech Intelligibility is the most important thing in a classroom and both noise and reverberation characteristics of the classroom can have significant impact on the STI. (speech intelligibility index)

If a classroom has poor acoustics:

  • low-frequency sounds will distort speech. Low frequency sounds are created by the things that “hum” – air conditioners, fans, lights etc
  • the sound will bounce off ceiling and walls and create echoes
  • sound levels will escalate, creating a sense of chaos and stress in the classroom.
  • students and teachers will have to raise their voices to be heard increasing the risk of vocal strain.
  • children with any kind of hearing impairment will be impacted significantly.

The same would be true if the classroom activities were too noisy or if the background noises from equipment, traffic, other classes etc were at unacceptable levels.

Challenge

  • Reducing sound levels
  • Minimising background low-frequency sound
  • Ensuring speech clarity
  • Preventing the build-up of echoes
  • Ensuring speaker and listener comfort

Possible Classroom Acoustic Solutions

  • Use a sound-absorbing ceiling with exceptional absorption qualities for all speech frequencies, and particularly low frequencies
  • Add wall absorbers on the back wall for traditional teaching, and on two adjacent walls for group work.
  • Make use of desk dividing screens to create individual work zones when required by student and teacher. Perfect for testing and assessments.
  • Free standing screens can help separate students during group works time. The sound absorbing panels assist in confining the sound to the area.