Background noise levels and reverberation times in unoccupied classrooms: Predictions and Measurements

Heather A. Knecht, Peggy B. Nelson, Gail M. Whitelaw, Lawrence L. Feth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Classrooms are often filled with deterrents that hamper a child's ability to listen and learn. It is evident that the acoustical environment in classrooms can be one such deterrent. Excessive background noise and reverberation can affect the achievement and educational performance of children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and children with normal hearing sensitivity who have other auditory learning difficulties, as well as elementary school children with no verbal or hearing disabilities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent of the problem of noise and reverberation in schools. To that end, we measured reverberation times and background noise levels in 32 different unoccupied elementary classrooms in eight public school buildings in central Ohio. The results were compared with the limits recommended in the American National Standards Institute standard for acoustical characteristics of classrooms in the United States (ANSI S12.60-2002). These measurements were also compared to the external and internal criteria variables developed by Crandell, Smaldino, & Flexer (1995) to determine if a simple checklist can accurately predict unwanted classroom background noise levels and reverberation. Results indicated that most classrooms were not in compliance with ANSI noise and reverberation standards. Further, our results suggested that a checklist was not a good predictor of the noisier and more reverberant rooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Classroom acoustics
  • Educational audiology
  • Noise
  • Reverberation


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