Loud classes, bad students, sick teachers

Loud classes, bad students, sick teachers

School classes are noisy. That may be because there are about thirty children there – and not all of them are model students. Above all, it is due to the poor acoustics in the classrooms. High, relatively bare rooms without carpet have long reverberation times: Spoken language is challenging to understand, and the many background noises can be heard for a long time without being silenced. In such conditions, many students need help to concentrate. Those who sit awkwardly sometimes need help understanding the teachers. It was shown that students make fewer mistakes when dictating if they can hear the text through headphones and thus without interference.

Difficult concentration

A quiet classroom has an average noise level of around 52 decibels (dB(A)). A very loud classroom can produce up to 100 decibels, according to the University of Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt study. In Germany, 50 decibels were measured during quiet work and around 75 decibels in typical teaching phases. As far as volume is concerned, you could teach on a main thoroughfare. f

However, the workplace ordinance requires a volume that does not exceed 55 decibels for predominantly intellectual activity, meaning that classroom concentration is usually only possible under challenging conditions. At 75 decibels, students and teachers experience increased blood pressure and accelerated heart rates, resulting in physical stress. You must speak even louder if you want to assert yourself against this noise level. Voice and larynx problems are inevitable. A survey showed that 80 per cent of the teachers felt disturbed by the noise in the classroom.

 

Good acoustics – better performance

The Heriot-Watt University study found that most classrooms had poor acoustics. According to this, many students could only understand their teachers if they tried and concentrated hard. It was also interesting that the teachers could have assessed the room acoustics more positively. Communication problems in the class were not attributed to the acoustic conditions but rather to the behaviour of the students, a lack of discipline or their pedagogical competence.

Rooms can be upgraded acoustically. Acoustic ceilings were installed in the classrooms as part of the study. Students taught in classrooms with good acoustics performed significantly better than students in noisy classes. Students need better acoustics, and also teachers. The study showed that teachers in classes with good acoustics had significantly fewer sick days than their colleagues. And that’s good for everyone.

Did you know …?

Is the Ordinance on the Protection of Employees from the Hazards of Noise and Vibration now applicable law following approval by the Federal Council at the end of February? According to this, employers must provide hearing protection from a continuous noise level of 80 decibels. From 85 decibels, employees are even obliged to use it. The previously possible exception rules for individual cases no longer exist. In Germany, ears are better protected at work than the EU requires. This had set the limit at the workplace to 87 decibels.

… that noise-related accidents keep happening despite clear rules? In Norway, the upper limit for sound exposure at the workplace is 85 decibels. Nevertheless, hearing impairments are the most common injuries at work, three times more often than strains on the skin or the respiratory tract. Noisy workplaces were not adequately marked, so the offered hearing protection was not used.

… are those ears still being damaged in German workplaces? Noise-induced hearing loss has been at the top of the statistics for recognized occupational diseases for years. In 2004, there were 42,000 noise-related pension cases in the trade associations alone, for which 162 million euros had to be raised. In addition, around 6,000 new cases of occupational noise-induced hearing loss were reported within the same year, according to the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

… that every third firefighter is hard of hearing? A survey of 3,300 firefighters in Madrid showed that hearing loss was the second most common occupational ailment. Loud sirens, machines and devices are assumed to be the cause. Chemical burns from contact with chemicals rank first.

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