n Education as Change - Rethinking our classrooms : assessment of background noise levels and reverberation in schools

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the status of classroom acoustics in primary schools in the Johannesburg area. Grade 1 classrooms from 15 different schools participated in this study. Background noise levels and amount of reverberation (echo and sound reflection) in unoccupied and occupied classrooms were measured in each classroom. The relationship between the number of learners and background noise level in the classroom was also investigated. Background noise levels measured in unoccupied classrooms were then compared to the South African National Standard specification for maximum background noise allowed in an unoccupied classroom. It was found that 14 out of the 15 classrooms had unoccupied background levels that exceeded the maximum classroom background noise limit recommended. 13 of the 15 had acceptable amounts of reverberation. Classrooms with more learners per classroom area generally had higher occupied classroom background noise levels. Overall, the majority of classrooms that participated in this study had unoccupied background noise levels that could potentially interfere with speech understanding in the classroom. Results from this study are discussed in relation to implications for the learner, teacher, class size and future research.

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