Classroom acoustics and hearing ability as determinants for perceived social climate and intentions to stay at work.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Background noise and room acoustics may impede social interactions by interfering with oral communication and other cognitive processes. Accordingly, recent research in school environments has showed that social relationships with peers and teachers are described more negatively in rooms with long reverberation times (RT). The purpose of this study was to investigate how RT and hearing ability (i.e., hearing thresholds [HT] and distortion product oto-acoustic emissions) were associated with schoolteachers' perceptions of the social climate at work and their intentions to stay on the job. Schoolteachers (n = 107) from 10 schools that worked in classrooms classified by acoustical experts as "short RT" (3 schools, mean RT 0.41-0.47 s), "medium RT" (3 schools, mean RT 0.50-0.53 s), and "long RT" (4 schools, mean RT 0.59-0.73 s) were examined. Teachers who worked in classrooms with long RT perceived their social climate to be more competitive, conflict laden, and less relaxed and comfortable. They were more doubtful about staying on the job. Even if the teachers were generally satisfied with their work the results suggest that the comfort at work may have been further improved by acoustical interventions that focus on reducing sound reflections in the classrooms. Yet, due the study design and the novelty of the findings the potential practical significance of our observations remains to be evaluated.