Relationships between unoccupied classroom acoustical conditions and elementary student achievement measured in eastern Nebraska

  • Ronsse L
  • Wang L
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Abstract

Building standards recommend maximum background noise levels (BNL) and reverberation times (RT) for unoccupied classrooms. However, existing research does not show a consistent correlation between these parameters and student achievement. Through in situ testing, this research seeks to determine what acoustical conditions should be attained in elementary schools for students to meet educational goals. Acoustical measurements were conducted in a Nebraska public school system and correlated to achievement scores from students in the surveyed classrooms. Unoccupied BNLs and RTs were gathered in 34 third and 33 fifth-grade classrooms. Additionally, binaural room impulse response measurements were gathered in a subset of the classrooms. The results suggest that student reading and language subject areas may be negatively impacted by higher unoccupied BNLs; to meet the upper half of NE state targets, these levels should be less than 45 dBA. However, the percentage of students receiving free or reduced price lunches is more strongly correlated to achievement than BNLs, and the negative correlations between noise and achievement are not significant when controlling for this demographic variable. One statistically significant relationship that remained when controlling for demographics was that classrooms with lower distortion of frequency-smoothed magnitude values generally had students with higher language scores.

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Authors

  • Lauren M. Ronsse

  • Lily M. Wang

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