Job satisfaction and social climate in noisy classrooms


© Anita Valdes

A large amount of research is carried out on the dangers that noise poses to hearing, but the psychological and social aspects of noise may sometimes be overlooked. The role of clear oral communication, in a comfortable environment, is of course fundamental in the learning process. Researchers from Denmark specializing in the working environment and psychology set up an investigation to assess this rarely studied topic.

Roger Persson from the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, and his associates, conducted a study to assess the impact that reverberation times (RTs) in classrooms, hearing thresholds, and sound distortion, have on the perceived social climate and schoolteachers’ intention to stay on the job. More than 100 teachers from 10 schools in the municipality of Copenhagen were included in the study and their classrooms were classified as short, medium, or long RT by acoustic experts. There were 3 short, 3 medium, and 4 long RT classrooms. A standard questionnaire was used to assess various aspects of the perceived social climate at work.

Unadjusted univariate ANOVA statistical analysis of the results showed that teachers in long RT classrooms were less positive about their social climate than those in short and medium RT environments. The main findings about the social climate demonstrate that it was perceived as more competitive, more rigid and rule-based, more conflict laden, and less relaxing and comfortable. The authors highlight the novelty of their findings and say that the potential practical significance of the observations remains to be evaluated.

Source: Persson R, et al. Classroom acoustics and hearing ability as determinants for perceived social climate and intentions to stay at work. Noise Health. 2013 Nov-Dec;15(67):446-53.