The Impact of Sound-Field Systems on Learning and Attention in Elementary School Classrooms PurposeThe authors evaluated the installation and use of sound-field systems to investigate the impact of these systems on teaching and learning in elementary school classrooms.MethodsThe evaluation included acoustic surveys of classrooms, questionnaire surveys of students and teachers, and experimental testing of students with and without the use of sound-field systems. ... Research Note
Research Note  |   August 01, 2012
The Impact of Sound-Field Systems on Learning and Attention in Elementary School Classrooms
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Bridget Shield
    London South Bank University
  • Correspondence to Julie Dockrell: j.dockrell@ioe.ac.uk
  • Editor: Sid Bacon
    Editor: Sid Bacon×
  • Associate Editor: Charissa Lansing
    Associate Editor: Charissa Lansing×
Article Information
Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / School-Based Settings / Hearing
Research Note   |   August 01, 2012
The Impact of Sound-Field Systems on Learning and Attention in Elementary School Classrooms
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2012, Vol. 55, 1163-1176. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0026)
History: Received January 31, 2011 , Revised June 20, 2011 , Accepted December 24, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2012, Vol. 55, 1163-1176. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0026)
History: Received January 31, 2011; Revised June 20, 2011; Accepted December 24, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 17

PurposeThe authors evaluated the installation and use of sound-field systems to investigate the impact of these systems on teaching and learning in elementary school classrooms.

MethodsThe evaluation included acoustic surveys of classrooms, questionnaire surveys of students and teachers, and experimental testing of students with and without the use of sound-field systems. In this article, the authors report students' perceptions of classroom environments and objective data evaluating change in performance on cognitive and academic assessments with amplification over a 6-month period.

ResultsTeachers were positive about the use of sound-field systems in improving children’s listening and attention to verbal instructions. Over time, students in amplified classrooms did not differ from those in nonamplified classrooms in their reports of listening conditions, nor did their performance differ in measures of numeracy, reading, or spelling. Use of sound-field systems in the classrooms resulted in significantly larger gains in performance in the number of correct items on the nonverbal measure of speed of processing and the measure of listening comprehension. Analysis controlling for classroom acoustics indicated that students' listening comprehension scores improved significantly in amplified classrooms with poorer acoustics but not in amplified classrooms with better acoustics.

ConclusionsBoth teacher ratings and student performance on standardized tests indicated that sound-field systems improved performance on children’s understanding of spoken language. However, academic attainments showed no benefits from the use of sound-field systems. Classroom acoustics were a significant factor influencing the efficacy of sound-field systems; children in classes with poorer acoustics benefited in listening comprehension, whereas there was no additional benefit for children in classrooms with better acoustics.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, United Kingdom. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Kate Rigby and Ann Carey. We thank all the children and teachers for their time and effort.
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