How Can I Improve My Classroom Acoustics?

Education is dependent on the clear, concise communication of ideas and concepts in an accurate, engaging and consistent manner. If the teaching environment or ability to learn is compromised, the outcomes will be compromised likewise. Think of it this way; you wouldn’t want to teach someone to read in the dark, likewise, we shouldn’t teach in the “acoustic darkness” of highly reverberant rooms. The majority of classrooms are constructed of hard, easy to clean materials which do not offer any absorption of sound energy. Thankfully there are ways to impactfully improve classroom acoustics, but first it is key to understand exactly what you’re looking to solve.


What is Reverberation?

Reverberation is the echo, or dwell, a sound has as it dissipates in space. Hard surfaces create an “echo chamber” as sound reflects from a hard surface to hard surface. The more intense the echo is, the less intelligibility the room has. Less intelligibility means that there is more room for mishearing or understanding the source material. Intelligibility resides in the higher frequency ranges where the hard, consonant sounds live. These frequencies are more directional and have less energy than lower frequencies.

 


How can a classroom be impacted?

Most classrooms and lecture halls haven’t really changed in the past 100 years. Typically the teacher is at the front of the classroom speaking to rows of desks and seats. Students can be as far away as 40ft in kindergarten to grade 12 environments, and 150ft in a college setting. The human voice loses its volume at a rate of 4db for every 6ft travelled. That means in 12 feet the volume has decreased by ½, and in 24 ft down to only ¼ of the original volume. When you add in the basic noise floor of a room (40-50 db) and the sound of rustling students, it’s no wonder why the students in the back can’t hear.

When an instructor has to teach in a compromised facility, they often have to raise their voice to the point where vocal cord straining can occur. This can cause long term vocal cord damage and also create exposure to respiratory health issues. Often the teacher has to adopt a more strident tone to cut through the din of the room noise. This often leads to students feeling yelled at, or misinterpreting the teacher’s intention. To fix this issue, teachers will often request a microphone or voice assist technology to rectify this situation.

 


How can this issue be fixed?

Acoustic panels address all of these concerns. By adding absorption of the sound energy, reflections are not able to propagate and are trapped as not to interfere with the program material. Likewise, with the base noise floor sounds, these are not allowed to reverberate uncontrolled and cause the smearing effect, giving the program material a better chance to accurately reach the student. The instructor will no longer have to raise their voice, and the burnout and tonal issues will decrease. Students will likewise have  a better learning experience while in the classroom.


Primacoustic is a leader in educational acoustics and has developed a simple formula to determine how much absorption is required to be effective. Covering 20% of the room’s wall surface area will make enough of a difference to eliminate the acoustical issues in most classrooms. The panels can be distributed on walls, ceilings or best of all, a combination of the two. 

Panels are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours and are easy to install and clean. There are no batteries to replace, no programming, no updates and will never lose their ability to absorb sound. Contact us today for a free quote and advice on making your learning space optimal for students.