The effects of classroom noise on the reading comprehension of adolescents

Daniel Connolly, Julie Dockrell, Bridget Shield, Robert Conetta, Charlie Mydlarz, Trevor Cox

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    An investigation has been carried out to examine the impact of different levels of classroom noise on adolescents' performance on reading and vocabulary-learning tasks. A total of 976 English high school pupils (564 aged 11 to 13 years and 412 aged 14 to 16 years) completed reading tasks on laptop computers while exposed to different levels of classroom noise played through headphones. The tasks consisted of reading science texts, which were followed by multiple-choice questions probing comprehension and word learning. Number of questions attempted, times taken to read the texts and to answer questions were recorded, as well as correct answers to different types of question. The study consisted of two similar experiments, the first comparing performance in classroom noise at levels of 50 and 70 dB LAeq; and the second at levels of 50 and 64 dB LAeq. The results showed that the performance of all pupils was significantly negatively affected in the 70 dB LAeq condition, for the number of questions attempted and the accuracy of answers to factual and word learning questions. It was harder to discern effects at 64 dB LAeq, this level of noise having a detrimental effect upon the older pupils only.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number372
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2019


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