Childrens’ speech perception drops visibly in open plan classrooms, disturbing their efforts to hear discussions with peers and teachers, and leading to chronic listening fatigue.
Read: Students struggle to hear teachers in new fad open-plan classrooms
Teachers in open-plan classrooms reported greater vocal strain amid concerns that the children could not hear their voices, leading researchers to conclude that acoustically treated, enclosed classrooms make the best learning environments. Specifically,
If open-plan classrooms are still strongly desired, then they need to be purpose-built as flexible learning spaces with proper acoustic treatment and, most importantly, operable walls that can be closed when a class is engaged in critical listening activities.
Soundfields and FM Systems
Sound-field and FM systems are another way for students to hear in open spaces, with teachers reporting soundfield systems to benefit all students, not just with hearing issues.
Modifications That Benefit All Students
Teacher directed learning, small group learning and individual tasks need factoring into new classroom layouts and spaces. Educators also need awareness of digital tools to manage sound levels in physical learning spaces of all sizes and materials.