The Benefits of Sound-field Classroom Amplification by dfhercbml

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									                              LightSPEED Technologies, Inc. 11509 SW Herman Rd., Tualatin, OR 97062 www.lightspeed-tek.com +1 503.684.5538




                                                                                                    Introduction
                               The Benefits                                        Recent studies in the USA have verified
                                                                                   that hundreds of thousands of schoolchil-
                                            of                                     dren are at risk academically, due to a
                                                                                   high incidence of poor classroom acous-
                      Sound-field Classroom                                        tics, high classroom ambient noise levels
                                                                                   and mild hearing loss, due to common ear
                               Amplification                                       infections among primary age children.
                                                                                   These studies show conclusively that con-
                     • The Effects of High Ambient                                 ditions in the majority of primary school
                                                                                   classrooms make it difficult for a signifi-
                       Noise Levels are Overcome
                                                                                   cant portion of pupils to hear adequately.
                                                                                   These same studies show that many of the
                     • 30% of Children Will Hear                                   children who are not hearing adequately
                       Their Teacher Significantly                                 become deficient academically in at least
                       Better                                                      one subject by the time they enter sec-
                                                                                   ondary school. These results, taken from
                     • Attention and On-Task Times                                 three of the largest studies in the MARRS
                                                                                   Project (1979-1993), have been validated
                       Improve
                                                                                   by the U.S. Department of Education.
                                                                                   All recent studies confirm that sound-field
                     • Class Interaction and
                                                                                   classroom amplification overcomes ad-
                       Participation Increases                                     verse classroom conditions by providing
                                                                                   pupils with enhanced speech recognition,
                     • Classroom Stress is Lowered                                 which greatly improves their opportuni-
                                                                                   ties to learn. Sound-field amplification is
                     • Behaviour Problems are                                      now recognized as one of the most pow-
                       Reduced                                                     erful and cost effective tools to enhance
                                                                                   pupil listening in the classroom.
                     • Teacher Absenteeism is
                       Reduced                                                          What Is a Sound-field
                                                                                       Classroom Amplification
                     • Academic Test Scores Improve                                  System & How Does It Work?
                     • ESL Children achieve higher                                 The teacher wears a wireless, infrared mi-
                       Scores                                                      crophone. The teacher’s voice is broadcast
                                                                                   as infrared light to an infrared microphone
                     • Children With Learning                                      receiver/amplifier, which plays it through
                       Disabilities Can Benefit                                    loudspeakers for the entire class to hear.
                                                                                   The amplified teacher’s voice overcomes
                                                                                   background noise, poor room acoustics
                                                                                   and mild hearing loss to make it easier for
                                                                                   pupils to concentrate on what the teacher
                                                                                   is saying.




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                              The Goal of Sound-field                                 room. At these kinds of noise levels criti-
                              Classroom Amplification                                 cal components of speech are masked and
                                                                                      it is not uncommon to have less than 50%
                     Young children spend 45-60% of their                             word recognition for children in years 1 to
                     school day involved in listening activi-                         3 seated 12 feet or more from the teacher.
                     ties. Their primary channel for learning                         Sound-field amplification overcomes
                     is hearing. The more easily children can                         ambient noise levels and distributes the
                     hear, the more they will learn. For maxi-                        teacher’s voice at the same amplified level
                     mum learning to occur, the teacher’s voice                       throughout the classroom. Each child
                     must be highly intelligible to every child.                      hears the teacher at the same level, no
                     Younger children’s lack of experience                            matter where the child is seated.
                     and knowledge with speech and language
                     makes them very dependent on the soft,                                30% of Primary School
                     subtle consonant sounds that make up the
                     key elements of word recognition.
                                                                                         Children Hear Their Teacher
                                                                                             Significantly Better
                     The goal of Sound-field Classroom Am-
                     plification is to enable every child in the
                     classroom to hear clearly all the speech                         In an extensive series of studies, (conduct-
                     components of the teacher’s voice - no                           ed from 1971 to the present), The U.S.
                     matter where a child is seated in relation                       Department of Education has validated
                     to the teacher’s position in the room.                           that approximately 30% of any primary
                                                                                      and lower secondary school population
                     The following are benefits of sound-field                        will have ear infections and middle ear
                                                                                      fluid throughout the school year. These
                     classroom amplification, related to study
                                                                                      common middle ear conditions produce a
                      summaries. The detailed summaries are                           mild hearing loss (MHL) of 10 to 20 deci-
                              available upon request.                                 bels. Without intervention, 70% of these
                                                                                      MHL children will become academically
                         High Ambient Noise Levels                                    deficient in at least one or more subjects
                            Are Easily Overcome                                       by Year 6.
                                                                                      The U.S. Department of Education has
                     The mix of various noises that make up                           confirmed that sound-field amplification
                     the ambient noise in a classroom are com-                        in the classroom can overcome the hear-
                     posed of external noises, such as street                         ing loss of MHL children and with sound-
                     traffic, construction, playground noises;                        field amplification these children are able
                     noises from general facilities, heating/                         to perform as well academically as chil-
                     AC, hallway noises and classroom noises:                         dren with normal hearing.
                     furniture movement, children talking, etc.
                     Several thorough studies have measured                                     Attention & On-task
                     both occupied and unoccupied class-
                     rooms. Quantitative measurements have
                                                                                                   Time Improve
                     revealed that occupied reception class-
                     rooms can range from 65 to 75 decibels                           One of the most common difficulties for
                     (dB), occupied primary school classrooms                         children in listening is distraction. A pupil
                     can range from 55 to 65 decibels, and                            sees a movement in his peripheral vision,
                     occupied secondary school classrooms                             a child at the back of the classroom may
                     can range from 60 to 70 decibels. Since a                        hear a chair move next to her as loud as
                     teacher’s voice level drops by 75% for a                         the teacher’s voice. The result in either
                     child 12 feet from the teacher, these levels                     case may be the loss of a word or a con-
                     of ambient noise significantly impair the                        cept. A child’s sensitivity to distractions
                     listening ability of a child seated 12 feet                      can vary day-to-day and even hour-to-
                     or more from the teacher’s position in the                       hour. In addition, the average classroom

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                     today will have several children with                           among children in the class is heightened.
                     some type of learning difficulty: one of                        The prime example is when a teacher
                     the most significant of these is Attention-                     needs to raise their voice in a forceful
                     Deficit Disorder (ADD).                                         manner to get the attention of a child
                     It is now known that sound-field amplifi-                       misbehaving in the back of a classroom.
                     cation can, in many cases, reduce a child’s                     All the children feel the stress of such a
                     sensitivity to distractions. When a teach-                      verbal encounter. It is also well known
                     er’s voice is amplified 5 to 15 decibels                        that a loud, forceful command for some
                     above ambient noise, improving articula-                        children can have the opposite response to
                     tion and enhancing speech intelligibility,                      the desired behaviour. In general, children
                     the amplified instruction better captures                       are known to respond best to a natural,
                     a child’s attention and tends to suppress                       conversational voice level, as when some-
                     their sensitivity to the normal sounds and                      one is standing near them.
                     movements within the classroom. Teach-                          Sound-field amplification allows a teacher
                     ers using sound-field amplification report                      to speak at a natural conversational voice
                     less need to repeat instructions and re-                        level and still be heard clearly by all
                     minders to carry out previous requests.                         children in the class, as if the teacher were
                                                                                     standing beside them. Teachers report a
                                Class Interaction &                                  significant reduction in stress within the
                              Participation Increases                                classroom, fewer behaviour problems,
                                                                                     better response to verbal correction when
                                                                                     necessary and overall easier management/
                     Children that cannot hear and under-                            control of classrooms.
                     stand clearly what they are being asked
                     and told, often lack the confidence to
                     participate in classroom discussion. The                          Teacher Absenteeism Due to
                     MARRS studies show clearly that a                                   Voice & Throat Illness Is
                     significant number of primary and lower                               Almost Eliminated
                     secondary school children cannot hear
                     adequately due to poor classroom acous-
                     tics, high ambient noise levels, and high                       Voice fatigue and throat infections ac-
                     incidence of mild hearing loss. When a                          count for 11% to 16% of teacher absentee-
                     child cannot hear instructions well, the                        ism. Even in a classroom with relatively
                     uncertainty of what is happening can                            low ambient noise a teacher must project
                     cause reluctance to become involved.                            his or her voice to overcome the normal
                                                                                     physics of sound travel through air. The
                     Teachers employing sound-field in the                           inverse square law of physics defines that
                     classroom note an improvement in pu-                            for every doubling of the distance from a
                     pil motivation and participation, due to                        teacher, their voice level drops by 75%.
                     more consistent understanding of what                           This means a pupil seated at 12 feet from
                     is expected. They also report a marked                          the teacher hears the teacher’s voice at
                     improvement in responses to questions                           less than one-eighth of the level of a child
                     and requests. In classrooms where pupils                        seated three feet away from the teacher. In
                     use the microphone to amplify their own                         order to overcome this loss of voice level
                     voices, teachers report increased enthu-                        over distance, many teachers have to proj-
                     siasm and desire to read and give verbal                        ect their voices well above a natural and
                     reports.                                                        healthy level for their vocal cords. This
                                                                                     results in higher than average throat/voice
                      Classroom Stress is Lowered                                    problems for teachers.
                      & Fewer Behaviour Problems                                     With the use of sound-field amplification,
                                                                                     a teacher is able to speak in a conversa-
                     Educational psychologists have known                            tional voice, all children hear them easily,
                     for some time that as a teacher raises his/                     and most, if not all, voice strain is elimi-
                     her voice level, the tension and anxiety
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                     nated. The outcome is that schools using                         Children With Other Learning
                     sound-field amplification report signifi-                           Disorders Can Benefit
                     cantly lower teacher absenteeism (8%
                     to 13% lower) due to voice and throat
                     problems.                                                      Several studies show that children with
                                                                                    articulation disorders (5%—10% of all
                                                                                    school age children), language disorders,
                              Academic Test Scores                                  auditory processing disorders, learning
                                   Improve                                          disorders, and unilateral sensorineural
                                                                                    hearing loss, all experience more severe
                     The MARRS studies conducted over the                           speech recognition difficulties as the voice
                     last 10 years have clearly proved that                         to noise level decreases (greater distances
                     classroom acoustics, ambient noise and                         from teacher).
                     mild hearing loss have a significant effect                    Although there is not as much empiri-
                     on the academic performance for 25%                            cal data to support improvement due to
                     to 30% of primary and lower secondary                          sound-field classroom amplification, im-
                     school populations. What has been over-                        proved voice to noise ratios have proved
                     looked until recently has been the impact                      helpful to many of these children.
                     of classroom acoustics and ambient noise
                     on children with normal hearing.
                     Sound-field studies show that amplifying                       Teacher Survey Shows Sound-
                     a teacher’s voice results in exceptional                       field Classroom Amplification
                     improvement in reading and language test                       Systems Perceived More Use-
                     scores for all pupils at all primary levels.
                     It has reduced special education refer-
                                                                                     ful Than Most Popular Audio/
                     ral rates by up to 40% over five years.                               Visual Equipment
                     Some studies have shown a 7% to 10%
                     improvement in academic test scores for                         A survey of ninety school teachers ranked
                     normal hearing children. The statistically                     the importance of the most popular equip-
                     significant gains made, employing sound-                       ment used in class instruction. The equip-
                     field amplification, have usually been evi-                    ment list included: cassette tape player/
                     dent in less than one full school year, and                    recorder, overhead projector, television,
                     have been maintained in research study                         classroom amplification system, camcord-
                     periods for up to three years.                                 er, TV/VCR combination, and CD-ROM.
                                                                                    Those teachers who had used classroom
                      Children for Whom English Is                                  amplification gave it twice the Number
                                                                                    1 votes over the next most useful equip-
                        A Second Language Can                                       ment, the overheard projector.
                          Experience Over 30%
                          Improvement In Word/
                         Sentence Recognition

                      A 1994 study shows that noise in the
                     classroom has a substantial negative im-
                     pact on ESL pupils when compared with
                     native language pupils. At 18 feet from
                     the teacher the ESL child scores 25%
                     lower than native language children.
                     A recent study shows that ESL pupils can
                     score as much as 30% higher on word/
                     sentence recognition tests with sound-                                    www.lightspeed-tek.com
                     field classroom amplification.
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