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Sharing EU classroom acoustic research in the US

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Drs. Marcus Oberdorster and Gerhart Tiesler from Germany were invited to speak at the distinguished Knudsen lecture at the 161st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Seattle Washington, USA.

The research which Markus and Gerhart presented was a combined project looking at “acoustic ergonomics in schools” which looks at classroom acoustic conditions for modern teaching and learning and how good classroom acoustics reduce teacher workload and stress.
Gerhart shares with us how it was received and how it may influence the present noise level upper limits….

Gerhart’s comments:
“It was very important to talk about Ergonomics and how to analyse the “workplace school”, to give an idea of analysing instruments that for.
There is a great discussion in the States about upper limits for basic noise level at 50dBA!!!
So our lecture has given the ASA some arguments for lowering this limit against the background of physiological effects by noise below 80dBA, the “low noise”.
There was also a very intensive discussion about importance of good room acoustics for teaching hearing impaired children instead of “sound field systems”, which only will amplify the noise without upgrading the speech intelligence”.
More about the papers;
The acoustic environment of classrooms has a significant impact on new modern teaching scenarios. Today, in many countries, education and teaching is becoming more student centred and differentiated. Classrooms that might have worked well for decades might have to be acoustically “updated”.
Markus Oberdörster from Ecophon Germany, together with Gerhart Tiesler who worked with ISF University of Bremen in Germany, spent years investigating the room acoustic conditions of a large amount of German classrooms. Markus talked about acoustics and teaching styles, but also questioned the relevance of Sabine’s formula in non-diffuse conditions and the limitations of reverberation time as the only acoustic descriptor to use.
Gerhart took this further by revealing data on how poor room acoustics has an impact on teacher’s workload, i.e. heart rate as stress indicator. The consequence of acoustically good classrooms is reducing the stressor “high sound levels”, giving higher activation, reducing fatigue and potentially better learning results by the students.
Acoustic ergonomics of schools

Educational Environments 178 Research 163

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