An investigation into the acoustics of an open plan compared to enclosed Kindergarten classroom

Kiri Trengove Mealings, Jorg M. Buchholz, Katherine Demuth, Harvey Dillon

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Open plan classrooms, where several class bases share the same space, have recently re-emerged in Sydney primary schools. This case study examines the acoustics of a mid-range open plan Kindergarten classroom containing 91 students, compared to an enclosed classroom of 25 students. Ambient noise levels, intrusive noise levels, occupied background noise levels, and teacher's speech levels were recorded in both classrooms during different activities. Room impulse responses using logarithmic sweeps were also recorded in each classroom for different teaching scenarios. From these recordings, signal-to-noise ratios, speech transmission index scores, and reverberation times were calculated. The results revealed much higher intrusive noise levels in the open plan classroom, resulting in signal-to-noise ratios and speech transmission index scores to be well below those recommended in classrooms with students of this age. Reverberation time in the open plan classroom was also outside the recommended level. Additionally, occupied background noise levels in both classroom types were well above recommended levels. These results show the importance of further research into the noise levels of open plan classrooms to determine if they are suitable learning spaces for young students. The impacts of noise on speech perception, learning, and teacher's vocal health are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAustralian Acoustical Society
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationToowong, Qld
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • classroom acoustics
  • open plan classrooms


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