Acoustics: what you need to hear

Jan Simonsen, ROCKWOOL Group

Students all over the world are having trouble hearing their teachers, but there is a solution.

People, Humans, Kids, School, children

Why acoustics are important for learning

“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”

How many times has that phrase silently crossed our minds – or has even been spoken out loud – while we listened to a presentation or lecture? Often, when there is only one person speaking to many people, it is common for some of the words to get lost within the sounds of the room.

Whether it is other audience members talking amongst themselves or a faulty microphone being used by a teacher or presenter, words sometimes fall on deaf ears and cannot be re-iterated or re-emphasised when needed. This has become so common that a recent study revealed that children tend to miss 25% of the words spoken by their teachers.

A common classroom occurrence
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Children tend to miss 25% of the words spoken by their teachers

This stems from a recent finding that only 75% or less of the speech in classrooms is intelligible, which results in a lowered understanding of any given subject being taught in the classroom. 

Such a large percentage calls for us to find a solution – particularly for the acoustics within classrooms where children are experiencing hearing issues. In these situations, forgotten heroes – such as walls and ceilings – can play a fundamental role, and using these elements made from the right materials properly within the sound design and plan of schools can help ensure that our kids can hear and thus, learn, better.

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The indoor environment in buildings affect the people inside it

Source: Noise level: Acoustic society (2018) // Indoor pollutants and ventilation: World Green Building Council (2017) // Thermal comfort and lighting: World Green Building Council (2016) // Dampness: Fraunhofer (2016b) and European Respiratory Society (2013).

Recent studies suggest that teachers are prone to vocal damage in classrooms that have too much sound within their walls, whether it be from other students or from the outdoors. A classroom that contains modern acoustic solutions helps instructors to continue teaching with less strain to their voices, while students pay better attention to their lessons.

Although this may seem like a big task just for the sake of being able to listen better, there is good reason for it to take place when you consider the intensity and frequency of acoustics. And this much-needed overhaul does not have to be complicated. A re-design to the classroom can help optimize the intensity and frequency of sounds for those who are inside the room’s walls.

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Benefits for students and teachers alike

Today, many educators believe that some students have difficulty hearing their instructors clearly. To address this problem, classrooms could be fit with materials such as acoustic ceilings and walls, both of which have the ability to absorb sounds that might interfere with what is being said by the teacher to the students. 

Any way you look at it, all signs point to a better experience overall for kids and faculty members, and it improves the quality of life within the school.

Schools that have been around for decades lack simple technologies that would improve their acoustics, meaning that it is time to employ practical solutions to bring them into the modern world. If you don’t think so, then it might be time to have YOUR hearing checked. 

 

Sources: 
1. ROCKWOOL, Renovation Report 2018.
2. https://acousticalsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/classroom_acoutics_1.pdf

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