Classroom acoustics are generally overlooked in American education. Noise, echoes, reverberation, and room modes typically interfere with the ability of listeners to understand speech. The effect of all of these acoustical parameters on teaching and learning in school needs to be researched more fully. Research has shown that these acoustical problems are commonplace in new as well as older schools, and when carried to an extreme, can greatly affect a child's ability to understand what is said (Barton, 1989; Blair, 1990; Crandell, 1991; Finitzo, 1988). The precise reason for overlooking these principles needs to be studied more fully. Recently, however, acoustic principles have been clarified, and technologies for measuring room acoustics and providing sound systems have become available to solve many of the acoustical problem in classrooms (Berg, 1993; Brook, 1991; D'Antonio, 1989; Davis & Davis, 1991; Davis & Jones, 1989; Eargle, 1989; Egan, 1988; Everest, 1987, 1989; Foreman, 1991; Hedeen, 1980). This article describes parameters of the problem, its impact on students and teachers, and four possible solutions to the problem. These solutions are noise control, signal control without amplification, individual amplification systems, and sound field amplification systems.
KEY WORDS: classrooms, acoustics, listening
Submitted on July 12, 1994
Accepted on March 2, 1995
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