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Acoustic Ergonomics of Schools research report by Bremen University, Germany.

Acoustic Ergonomics of Schools research report by Bremen University, Germany.

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The study centred on the “school as a workplace” and as such the workplace of teachers and pupils. The study shows the link between a reduction in noise and the reduction in teachers stress levels. It also demonstrates that sound level reduction in the occupied room is more dramatic with multi conversation activities such as groupwork.
The study centred on the “school as a workplace” and as such the workplace of teachers and pupils. The study shows the link between a reduction in noise and the reduction in teachers stress levels. It also demonstrates that sound level reduction in the occupied room is more dramatic with multi conversation activities such as groupwork.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Saint-Gobain Ecophon (UK) on Aug 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/23/2013

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Modern School Acoustics
On teaching styles, room acoustics, teachers'health and pupil behaviour
 
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Modern School Acoustics on teaching styles,room acoustics, teachers’ health and pupilbehaviour
By Dr. Markus Oberdörster, Ecophon Germany and Dr. Gerhart Tiesler, Institut für Interdisziplinäre Schulforschungder Universität Bremen (Institute for interdisciplinary school research of the University of Bremen, Germany) 
1. Noise in schools – currentstatus of school research
Schools have become much noisierin recent years, with the numberof complaints about this steadilyincreasing. In 1999, a study bythe ISF (Institute for InterdisciplinarySchool Research) of the Universityof Bremen, with about 1,200teachers participating, gave a veryclear picture of the stress factors thatarise in schools. When questioned,more than 80% of those taking partadmitted experiencing stress caused
"I am stressedby the noisethat pupilsmake."
do not agreeat alltend not toagreeagreeslightlytotally agreeAnswers (%)
by pupil noise. One year later, theBundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz undArbeitsmedizin (German FederalInstitute of Occupational Health)was commissioned to carry outthe most extensive research projectto date on "Noise in educationalestablishments". Observations frommore than 570 lessons showedan average classroom
SPL (soundpressure level) of approximately 65 dB(A).
Levels that are thishigh mean that communicationcan be extremely difficult or evenimpossible.Of course, the sound pressure levelmeasured in the classroom doesnot only consist of unwanted noise,since the teacher's voice and anecessary contribution of pupilvoices are also involved. Thus,overall classroom noise is generatedby the two-way teaching processas well as by other factors. Evenif this overall level were generatedexclusively by the teacher, thiswould mean - at the very least - thathe or she would have to speak ina raised voice throughout the entirelesson.The question of noise in schoolsis therefore extremely complex.How, for instance, does the generalnoise level in the classroom affectthe communication processesthat take place there? How it ispossible to differentiate between
disturbing noise
on the one handand
useful noise
(sound) on theother hand, when carrying out ascientific teaching analysis? Howdo SPL and poor understandingof communication affect pupilperformance and/or teachers' work stress? And, not least, what areteachers really talking about whenthey complain about noise in theclassroom – the measurable SPLor, rather, the way in which theirteaching is disturbed?All these issues resulted in themost recent ISF study in 2005on the
"Acoustic ergonomics of schools"
. Based on 175 lessons,the first stage involved researchingthe effects of different teachingmethods (direct teaching vs.student-centred teaching) on thebasic* and working** SPL inthe classroom. The second stageinvolved an investigation intohow
changing room acoustics
 (reverberation time and speechintelligibility)
affects this level for each respective teaching method
.It was possible not only to analyseaverage values for lessons butalso to gain insight into actualteaching phases that showed clear,pedagogical characteristics.
ISF study, 1999: 80% of teachers complainabout the noise made by pupils
*The Basic SPL: the general basic noise level in a fully occupied class over a defined time period.** The Working SPL: the noise level parameter describing a working situation.
 
 
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School with predominantly direct teaching method.
The third stage then addressed hownoise, in terms of natural, workingsounds, affects teachers duringlessons.
How do room acousticsaffect teachers' measurablephysiological stress in relation toactual teaching events?
These kinds of ergonomicquestions, linked with actualeducational trends, may besurprising at first glance. However,they give an interesting insight intothe concept of noise in schools,its causes and effects, and intoother acoustic factors such asreverberation time and speechintelligibility.
2. Teaching past andpresent - schooling reflectedin educational trends
The education system in mostindustrialised countries is changingfaster than ever before, not justsince recent OECD-Reports
1)
.The organisation of schooling ingeneral, and
teaching methods
inparticular,
have changed a lot inrecent years.
Is noise in schools a newproblem, one that did not existpreviously? This question is certainlyjustified, since complaints byteachers about noise do not occurin the literature from the beginningof the 1900s. The "modern","student-centred" and "non teacher-centred" teaching methods (e. g.partner, group or project work)that are promoted by educationalexperts do certainly produce totallydifferent communication scenarios
School with predominantly student-centred teaching method.
1) OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)/PISA (Programme for International StudentAssessment, Learning for Tomorrow's World, First Results from PISA 2003, OECD Publishing, Dec 2004, 478 p,ISBN: 9264007245. (Available in English, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish)OECD/Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), Schooling for Tomorrow: Think Scenarios, Rethink Education, OECD Publishing, April 2006, 200 p, ISBN: 926402364X (Available in English and French)

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