I am the proud mother of a senior in HS as well as a 3rd grader; my oldest is a young woman who just turned 18 and my youngest is a little boy who is half that age. With the exception of their eyes, their cheekbones and their ability to incessantly argue with each other, they couldn’t be more opposite.
Wherein my daughter was always wanting to please her teachers and be “the favorite,” my son seems to think that negative attention is just as good as positive. My daughter, always willing to get organized and do her homework first, is constantly flabbergasted at my son who procrastinates with his homework until threats from me ensue. My daughter has an incredible ability to focus on tasks but my poor little son has the attention span of a gnat when there is the slightest distraction from ambient noise.
This leads me to purpose of this post…noise and how it affects learning.
I’ve done a lot of reading about noise distractions and the affects noise and sound have on learning environments and, while I won’t bore you with the minutia, I’ll highlight some things for you to consider:
- Our ability to make sense of what we hear is not fully developed until our teenage years.
- In most environments, individuals hear with about 70% accuracy.
- In environments where noise isn’t well managed, individuals hear with about 25-30% accuracy.
WAIT, WHAT? Can you imagine being satisfied with food being “edible” only 25% of the time, or being satisfied with our dentist doing only 25% of the work we needed done, or being satisfied with our car operating effectively only 25% of the time? Of course not, but yet that is what a student is left with…needing more from his teacher but only getting 25%.
- Learning almost always requires effective speaking and listening.
- Students ability to recognize speech sounds is decreased by even the modest levels of ambient noise.
- Recognizing speech is imperative to learning.
- Excessive noise makes it difficult for individuals to focus because their minds are busy trying to filter the unnecessary sounds.
- Individuals who cannot focus on what is being said will struggle in remembering what is heard.
- Individuals who cannot focus on what is being said will struggle with “connecting the dots” or otherwise applying logic and reasoning to what is being said.
- There is more ambient and residual noise in classrooms today than there was in the past due to multiple electrical devices and equipment, more students and activities, etc.
- Many of our classrooms in use today were not designed for good acoustics.
- You can’t selectively mask sounds…excessive sound absorbing materials in walls and ceilings will also mask needed audio communication.
All of this being said, I am worried!
As a parent of a soon-to-be college student where complex projects and ideas will be presented in each class, and as a parent of a little guy who already struggles with attention spans and focus, I am worried that teachers, professors and instructors don’t have the support they need to mitigate the above issues.
We need to amplify their voices!
If educators need to be heard and heard correctly, we need to amplify their voices.
If students need to focus on what the teacher says, we need to amplify their voices.
If we can’t selectively mask the ambient and other distractive noises, we need to amplify their voices.
Voice amplification is the practical solution.
Among the many new products available, voice amplification equipment typically includes an amplifier connected to ceiling mounted or individual/desk/table mounted speakers and microphones. Some systems have wires and some use infrared or radio frequency signal technology.
Recent developments now include security alert functionality on the teacher’s pendant, enabling the office to be notified of an emergency. The speaker’s voice can be heard and recorded remotely by school administrators and emergency personnel. The latest systems also allow for connection to other audio-visual devices in the classrooms and the creation of podcasts from the lessons that are presented. That’s super cool!
So, I said all of this to say this: voice amplification systems are an affordable solution to problems of low student engagement, participation and achievement caused by poor sound quality.
Voice amplification offers these benefits:
- they increase the chances of the information being heard accurately;
- they support better teacher-student interaction and understanding; and
- they encourage student participation.
I don’t know about you, but I want my children to enjoy these benefits.
Please feel free to read another post, If It Seems Like I’m Yellin’ At Ya, It’s Because I Am! It is also about voice amplification but from the teacher’s perspective.