An investigation into the acoustics of different sized open plan and enclosed Kindergarten classrooms

Kiri T. Mealings, Jörg M. Buchholz, Katherine Demuth, Harvey Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Open plan classrooms, where several class bases share the same space, have recently re-emerged in Australian primary schools. This study compared the acoustics of four different Kindergarten classrooms: an enclosed classroom with 25 students, a double classroom with 44 students, a linear fully open plan triple classroom with 91 students, and a semi-open plan K-6 classroom with 205 students. Ambient noise levels, intrusive noise levels, occupied background noise levels, and teacher’s speech levels were recorded during different activities. Room impulse responses using logarithmic sweeps were also recorded 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 two largest open plan classrooms, resulting in signal-to-noise ratios and speech transmission index scores to be well below those recommended in classrooms with students of this age. Additionally, occupied background noise levels in all classrooms were well above recommended levels. These results suggest students may have difficulty listening and learning in open plan classrooms and teachers are likely to strain their voice. Therefore, open plan classrooms are unlikely to be appropriate learning environments for young children unless high intrusive noise levels are moderated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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