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Improving the acoustic environment of schools for pupils and teachers

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Improving the acoustic environment of schools for pupils and teachers Bridget Shield & Anne Carey London South Bank University Julie Dockrell & Kate Rigby – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Improving the acoustic environment of schools for pupils and teachers


1
Improving the acoustic environment of schools for
pupils and teachers
  • Bridget Shield Anne Carey
  • London South Bank University
  • Julie Dockrell Kate Rigby
  • Institute of Education, University of London

2
Outline of talk
  • Acoustic requirements for classrooms
  • Background to EPSRC project - previous research
  • EPSRC project - aims and methodology
  • Acoustic surveys of classrooms
  • Remedial acoustic treatments to classrooms
  • Teachers voice levels
  • Amplification in the classroom
  • installation
  • benefits
  • Summary and conclusions

3
Acoustic requirements for classrooms
  • To provide good listening and speaking conditions
    a classroom must have
  • Low background noise
  • Short reverberation time
  • Good sound insulation
  • between classrooms to minimise transmission of
    classroom noise
  • of external façade to minimise intrusion of
    external noise

4
Building Bulletin 93 (DfES, 2003)Acoustic design
of schools
  • School buildings built since 2003 must comply
    with the Building Regulations
  • Legal requirements for acoustic design of new
    schools specified in Section 1 of Building
    Bulletin 93

5
Building Bulletin 93 (DfES, 2003)Acoustic design
of schools
  • Indoor ambient noise levels
  • Airborne sound insulation
  • Impact sound insulation
  • Reverberation time
  • Sound absorption in corridors and stairwells
  • Speech intelligibility in open plan spaces

DfES kept informed of results of EPSRC project
which will inform any revision of BB 93
6
Two major research projects on classroom
acoustics
  • The effects of noise on the attainments and
    cognitive performance of primary school children
  • Department of Health/DEFRA 1999-2001
  • Acoustic design guidelines and teacher strategies
    for optimising learning conditions in classrooms
    for hearing and hearing-impaired children
  • EPSRC (EQUAL) 2002 - 2005

7
Background - previous study
Methodology
  • Noise surveys outside 142 primary schools in 3
    London boroughs
  • Noise surveys inside 140 classrooms in 16 schools
    in two boroughs
  • Questionnaire survey of all Year 2 children in
    one borough (Ngt2000) and their teachers (Ngt50)
  • Comparison of noise levels with SATs results
  • Experimental testing of mainstream and SEN
    children in typical noise conditions

8
Background - previous study results
  • Children are exposed to higher noise levels at
    school than recommended by BB 93 and WHO
  • Children are aware of noise and annoyed by
    specific noise sources
  • Ease of listening in the classroom is related to
    external noise levels
  • Exposure to noise affected performance on
    academic tasks
  • Classroom babble affects performance on verbal
    tasks
  • External environmental noise affects non-verbal
    tasks and speed of processing tasks
  • Children with special educational needs are
    differentially affected
  • Majority of teachers experience voice and throat
    problems

9
Effects of noise on Key Stage 2 SATs
  • External noise (142 schools)
  • Internal noise (16 schools)

Results hold when data corrected for
socio-economic factors
10
Effects of noise on speed processing task
Changes in test scores in noise
11
Effects of noise on children with special
educational needs
Results of experimental testing
12
Acoustic design guidelines and teacher strategies
for optimising learning conditions in classrooms
for hearing and hearing-impaired children
Aims of EPSRC EQUAL project
  • To identify those acoustic parameters that are
    most applicable to childrens hearing and
    listening in classrooms
  • To investigate ways of improving the acoustics in
    classrooms
  • To investigate the use and effectiveness of
    classroom amplification systems
  • To investigate the effects of acoustics on
    teachers voices
  • To develop new word tests for hearing and hearing
    impaired children

13
Acoustic design guidelines and teacher strategies
for optimising learning conditions in classrooms
for hearing and hearing-impaired children
Aims of EPSRC EQUAL project
  • To identify those acoustic parameters that are
    most applicable to childrens hearing and
    listening in classrooms
  • To investigate ways of improving the acoustics in
    classrooms
  • To investigate the use and effectiveness of
    classroom amplification systems
  • To investigate the effects of acoustics on
    teachers voices
  • To develop new word tests for hearing and hearing
    impaired children

14
Acoustic design guidelines and teacher strategies
for optimising learning conditions in classrooms
for hearing and hearing-impaired children
Methods used in EPSRC EQUAL project
  • 39 mainstream and special schools in London,
    Herts, Berks, Hants
  • Acoustic surveys of 55 classrooms in 25 schools
  • Measurements of voice levels of 36 teachers
  • Study of installation and use of amplification
    systems (SFS) in 20 schools
  • Questionnaire surveys of children with and
    without SFS
  • Cognitive testing of children with and without
    SFS
  • Structured observation of children with and
    without SFS

15
Acoustic survey of 55 classrooms reverberation
times
18 out of 44 untreated rooms meet BB 93
criterion All treated rooms meet criterion
16
Teachers voice levels
17
What can be done to improve the acoustic
conditions for teaching and learning?
  • For teachers
  • For children
  • mainstream
  • with permanent hearing loss
  • with temporary hearing loss
  • with language problems
  • with attention difficulties
  • Two approaches investigated
  • Increasing acoustic absorption to reduce
    reverberation time
  • Using amplification/sound field systems in the
    classroom

18
Effectiveness of acoustic treatment
Acoustic absorption can be added to the ceiling
(as here) or to the ceiling and walls
No absorption RT 1s
With absorption RT 0.5s
19
Effectiveness of acoustic treatment
Measurements in 7 untreated and 6 matched treated
classrooms
20
What is a Sound Field System (SFS)?
Amplification in the classroom
  • A SFS is essentially a simple speech
    reinforcement system used by the teacher.
  • Three main types - 4 small moving coil
    loudspeaker - single column loudspeaker -
    multiple flat panel (DML) in ceiling
  • Systems usually consist of boom or collar mounted
    directional radio mic transmitter, radio mic
    receiver, mixer/amp loudspeakers.
  • Typical price 1000 - 1500 per system.

21
Why are SFS installed?
Amplification in the classroom
  • To provide all pupils in the classroom with equal
    speech signal from the teacher
  • Installed in classrooms where there is a hearing
    impaired child
  • Installed for use by a teacher with voice
    problems
  • Systems are installed for individual pupils, to
    improve acoustics by the school, or in a blanket
    manner by LEA.
  • General misconception that SFS solve all
    acoustical problems

22
Where are SFS installed?
Amplification in the classroom
SFS installed across whole range of classrooms
measured
23
Amplification in the classroom
SFS were not used in about half of the classrooms
in which they were installed
Sound field systems can only be used successfully
if
  • Acoustic conditions in the classroom are suitable
  • They are installed correctly, in appropriate
    places in the classroom
  • They are installed in consultation with the
    teachers who will be using them
  • Teachers are given training in their use
  • If they work!

24
Examples of poor installation/communication
The loudspeakers have been installed in areas
where class teaching does not take place
25
Example of poor training of the teacher
The loudspeakers have been decorated for
Christmas!
  • Of teachers surveyed
  • 56 not given any training in use
  • of systems
  • 63 not consulted about placing
  • of systems

26
Evaluation of sound field systems
  • Schools in Hertfordshire and London
  • Effects on childrens listening
  • questionnaire survey of children in mainstream
    (Nq1396) and special schools (Nq128) before and
    6 months after installation
  • Effects on childrens behaviour
  • Structured observation of pairs of hearing and
    hearing impaired children in 9 classrooms with
    and without SFS
  • Effect on childrens performance - SFS on/off
  • testing of 380 children (24 with SEN) over 3 week
    period
  • spelling, oral comprehension, speed of processing
  • Effect on childrens learning - 6 months after
    installation
  • testing of 280 children (41 with SEN) before and
    after
  • spelling, oral comprehension, speed of
    processing, reading, maths

27
Evaluation of sound field systems - impact on
listening
  • Children in SFS classrooms reported improvements
    in hearing teacher in 3 out of 8 situations when
    teacher is speaking
  • writing on board
  • working in groups
  • children making noise outside classroom
  • No changes for hearing impaired children
  • small sample and possible technical difficulties
  • Children in special schools reported improvements
    when
  • cannot see teachers face
  • writing on board
  • moving around classroom
  • children making noise outside classroom

Benefits in hearing teacher for majority of
children
28
Evaluation of sound field systems - observational
results
  • No changes between classrooms with and without
    SFS in
  • adult involvement
  • type of task performed by children
  • type of sound made by children
  • underlying teaching and learning activities
  • In SFS classrooms
  • children's hands raised less often
  • children more attentive
  • children respond more quickly to teacher
  • children less distracted by external noise

Beneficial effects for all children
29
Evaluation of sound field systems - effect on
childrens performance and learning
  • Performance (SFS on/off)
  • Improvements in spelling for all children
  • no change in comprehension and speed of
    processing
  • Improvements in spelling and comprehension for
    SEN children
  • no change for speed of processing
  • Effects greater for SEN children
  • Learning (changes after 6 months)
  • No changes in spelling and maths
  • Significant improvements in comprehension and
    speed of processing

Improvement in processing oral input,
particularly for children with additional
learning needs
30
Summary and conclusions
  • The acoustic conditions in the majority of
    existing classrooms do not meet current
    regulations
  • Reducing noise and reverberation would benefit
    childrens learning and teachers health
  • Acoustic treatments can be applied to remedy the
    situation
  • Amplification in the classroom can improve the
    listening and learning situation for mainstream
    children and those with additional learning needs
  • Amplification is not a remedy for poor acoustics
  • In order to be used successfully amplification
    must be installed
  • in classrooms which are acoustically suitable
  • in appropriate positions in the classroom
  • in consultation with the teacher
  • with adequate training of teachers

31
Current and further EPSRC research
  • The acoustics of open plan classrooms
  • (LSBU, EPSRC studentship, 2003 - 2007)
  • Modelling performance of SFS
  • (LSBU, EPSRC studentship, 2005 - 2008)
  • The acoustic design of secondary schools
  • (LSBU, IoEd, Univ of Salford, new application)

32
Help needed
  • Access to schools
  • Opportunities to do before and after testing
    (acoustic and psychological) where remedial
    treatment/structural alterations planned
  • Access to classrooms to test new word test

33
Acknowledgements
This work has been funded by the Engineering and
Physical Sciences Research Council.
Contacts
Julie Dockrell j.dockrell_at_ioe.ac.uk Bridget
Shield shieldbm_at_lsbu.ac.uk
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