Minimizing the Learning Impact of Noisy Classrooms

EKU Online > Minimizing the Learning Impact of Noisy Classrooms

Too much noise in a classroom can have a negative effect not only on students’ ability to understand what is being said, but also on behavior, the ability to concentrate or pay attention, and even performance on reading tasks. The term “classroom acoustics” refers to the level of sound and the way in which sound travels within a classroom. Understanding the causes of noise in a classroom and implementing simple strategies can help reduce overall sound levels to help create a more favorable learning environment for students.

What contributes to classroom noise?

Background noise
The noise that is heard in a classroom which is not directly related to instruction. It includes the following:

  • Sounds occurring outside the school building such as traffic noise, lawnmowers, and even children on the playground.
  • Sounds occurring within the building such as talking in the hallways.
  • Sounds occurring within the classroom such as HVAC devices, computers and projectors, and student conversations.

The way in which sound moves within the classroom and whether it is absorbed by soft surfaces or bounces off of hard surfaces.

What can be done to curb classroom noise?

If classrooms are noisy when they are empty, then they will be even noisier when students are present. A few simple strategies can help reduce noise levels.

  • Put small rugs on the floor
  • Hang soft materials such as felt, corkboards, or even acoustic panels on the walls
  • Avoid configuring tables and desks in straight rows
  • Turn off equipment when it’s not in use
  • Keep doors and windows closed
  • Ask students to use quieter voices

Children do not have the same level of listening skills as adults; therefore, teachers need to take deliberate steps to create a positive listening environment in their classroom to help students focus on learning.

By:Dr. Michelle Gremp, associate professor of special education and coordinator of deaf & hard of hearing, EKU Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

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