Classrooms should be designed for modern teaching styles. In a study supported by the Oticon foundation published 2002, a research team from New Zealand looks at the acoustic implications of new teaching styles, where interaction between children is encouraged besides more traditional teaching.
More and more learning is done in small groups and a high emphasis is put on incidental learning, defined as what children learn from each other through gathering information casually. This asks for classrooms that are at least as much designed to maintain low ambient speech levels as to transmit the teacher’s speech from the blackboard to the pupils’ positions.
The typical, traditional situation of the static teacher is standing at the blackboard and talking uninterrupted to the class correponds to only 12% of the time. Most of the time, he/she using the whole classroom, where sound pressure level reduction is an important parameter.
“Matwork” means that the teacher is everywhere “on the mat” (floor, carpet) throughout the classroom. This implies a short distance teacher to listener pupil, with a large proportion of direct sound to the listener and high signal-to-noise ratio.
At the same time, most other pupils will be involved in individual work and group work, for which reduction of sound pressure level and prevention of cocktail party effect is the critical issue.
Six-page summary of the main research findings.
Full research report