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Building a Sound Future
for Students: Considering the
Accustics in Occupied Active
Laura C. Brill Acoustics in occupied active classrooms should be carefully considered
because they may relate more to student achievement than unoccupied
Address: d.t_
Threshold Acoustics “M ' “"'s‘
1“ W3“ l“Ck5°“ B°“l5"“'d Children all over the world spend a majority of their time in built environments,
Sm“ 2030 spaces constructed for humans to occupy such as homes or classrooms at schools.
C}‘iC3E°v ml“°l5 50504 Although there is certainly evidence that points to the impact of the home
USA environment on development, there is less scientific research showing the effects of
Email. the classrooms built environment on student learning outcomes. However, recent
1brm@mmsholdacousficflom research both in the United States and abroad (including by our group) shows that
the acoustic environment of classrooms has a profound effect on learning.
mere“ Smith Surveying 220 K-12 classrooms over the course of two years of measurements has
Address; provided a unique opportunity for us to reflect on the acoustic standards that guide
Dmham 5c},o01ofA,c},;1gcmm1 the design of these classrooms. The purpose of specifying acoustic conditions in
Engimmng and construction classrooms is to ensure that the spaces are appropriate learning environments.
University of Ngbmska,]_inco1n Standards on classroom acoustics typically set recommendations for unoccupied
1119 South 571}, gm“ spaces based on a goal of attaining clear communication through increased
oma},a_ Ngbraska 5g1g2,9g15 speech intelligibility. Such standards, however, are not commonly enforced in the
USA United States. Furthermore, meeting current recommendations for unoccupied
classrooms may not result in appropriate acoustic environments when those
Emu’-I" rooms are occupied and in active use, which is how students typically experience
kieren.smith@huskers.unledu Classrooms
Lily M" Wang Background
Address: Researchers have taken a keen interest in characterizing the acoustic attributes of
Durham School of Architectural classrooms and their effects on both students and teachers. Studies have observed
Engineering and Construction and measured the effects of room acoustics on both speech intelligibility and
University of Nebraska—LinC0ln student academic achievement as well as on vocal health of teachers (Hunter and
1110 South 67th Street Titze, 2010; Bottalico et al., 2017; Puglisi et al., 2017). In this article, we focus on
Omaha, Nebraska 681820816 the impact of classroom acoustics on students.
Initial studies related to classroom acoustics centered on speech intelligibility
Email: or the degree to which speech is clear and recognizable. Speech intelligibility, often measured in the form of word, phrase, or sentence recognition, depends
on the sound level of the talker, the level of the background noise, and the room
acoustic characteristics (Bradley, 1986). When the ratio of the signal level from the
talker to the noise level from background sources (signal-to-noise ratio) is low,
the speech intelligibility scores of children and those with hearing impairments
are consistently found to be worse than for adults or those with normal hearing
(Crandell and Sma.ldino, 2000; Shield and Dockrell, 2003; Klatte et al., 2013).
14 1 Acuultlcl Tbday 1 mi 2013 1 volume 14, 1551493 ©2l718Acousz1caISOciezy afAmm'm. All nghzs reserved.

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