Thoughtful use of classroom technology can help address noise levels and prevent noise-related learning loss.

Classroom noise pollution is adding to student distraction

Thoughtful use of technology can help address noise levels and prevent noise-related learning loss

Key points:

  • Students can’t learn if they’re having trouble listening
  • Tech tools and sound amplification can help combat classroom noise pollution

Learning depends on listening. But classroom noise pollution is making hearing in the classroom harder. Finding simple and effective ways to dial down classroom noise levels can help increase focus and stamina.

The World Health Organization recommends classroom sound levels of no more than 35 decibels. The average volume of a classroom, however, rings in at more than twice that level. At 77 decibels, the average classroom produces the same level of noise as freeway traffic or other “annoyingly loud” sounds.

What’s causing all this noise? Changes in the classroom that brought many advantages, such as interactive technologies, more small group work, and flexible classrooms, have contributed to noise levels. Some schools may also experience environmental noise such as city traffic, construction, or noise from ventilation systems.

The result is classroom noise pollution that causes distraction and discomfort for students and teachers. From learning loss and lower standardized test scores to student distraction and teachers losing their voices, noise has significant impacts in the classroom. Research reveals that 40 percent of students say they can’t understand their teacher due to background noise. Meanwhile, three-quarters of teachers say their jobs make their voices hoarse or strained.

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