Alarming effects of noise in schools

86% of French students in middle and high school find their school too noisy. The worst place is the canteen, followed by the corridors and the entrance hall. This is showed by a recent French survey of students in middle and high school.

Research/Case studies Education

Together with UNESCO’s Week of Sound organization, Ecophon wanted to know more about noise in schools. They let the French research company OpinionWay do a survey in January 2021, asking questions to a sample of 506 students, representative of the population of middle and high school students, about their sound environment.

The results are alarming, as 86% of the students sometimes (51%) or often (35%) find their schools too noisy. The canteen is the noisiest place: 89% finds it very or quite noisy.

Serious consequences of noise

Although the figure for the classroom is much lower, 34%, it still reflects a major problem: every third student find the space where they are supposed to study and learn noisy. And the consequences of the noise for those children are serious:

  • 75% find that the noise prevents them from concentrating.
  • 74% find that the noise prevents them from hearing the teacher properly.
  • 69% find noise caused by equipment tiring.
  • 64% are disturbed by noise from outside.
  • 64% gets a sore head caused by resonance and echo in common areas.

Teachers get voice disorders

Sylvain Coudret, acoustics expert at Saint-Gobain Ecophon, is not surprised by the result of the study.

“A lot of teachers have voice disorders. This is related to the fact that they constantly have to raise their voices to be heard by the students. We have found that the heart rate is directly linked to the level of noise in a classroom. We can see that as the sound level in the classroom increases, the heartbeat of the teacher speeds up accordingly. This implies stress and anxiety.”

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The point of providing acoustic solutions is to reduce the heart rate of the teachers, improve the students learning capacity and, in the end, their grades.

This is by far not a trivial issue. Consider that the students learning capacity is reduced by noise, and the impact that may have on their grades, and a quite serious picture appears.

“The point of providing acoustic solutions is to reduce the heart rate of the teachers, improve the students learning capacity and, in the end, their grades. Of course, many factors are interacting, but the acoustics is one of the most critical”, Sylvain Coudret underlines.