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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


CASTRO-MARTINEZ, Jaime A.; CHAVARRIA ROA, Julián; PARRA BENITEZ, Andrés  y  GONZALEZ, Santiago. Effects of classroom-acoustic change on the attention level of university students. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2016, vol.33, n.2, pp.201-214. ISSN 1668-7027.

Noise in learning environments has proven to be a big source of health problems not only for teachers, but also for students. Noise is considered as every type of sound that we are not interested in hearing, whereas a useful sound is the one we want to perceive. Studies that analyze the relationship between the effects of noise and attention processes are developed within the idea that sound stimulation acts intermittently as an activator and therefore it can generate an over-activation in the individual due to the distortion caused by this diffused stimulation on the attention process. Furthermore, researches also show that the presence of noise affects performance by making subjects focus their attention upon aspects of the task defined as relevant. Researchers have stated the importance of changing learning spaces in order to favor the health- work-life conditions of teachers and to improve the students’ learning conditions. These alterations include architectural changes, using sound-field amplification, or ceiling baffles and reflect ors that allow changing the reverberation levels of sound in order to modify the need teachers have to modulate their voice and avoid wearing it out. Is common that regulations on the acoustic characteristics of many places set general requisites that are minimal and insufficient to control noise and reverberation, and that are not in line with the guidelines on intermittent sounds. The objective of this research was to examine the effect of noise, reverberation, and acoustical barriers on the level of attention of 141 students from a private university in . Modular panels with acoustic properties were used for an acoustic intervention in some classrooms, intending to reduce the noise levels. Then, all the students of four courses of Mathematics and Statistics were considered. At least two courses had classes in the class rooms that had the acoustic intervention at the beginning of the semester, and the same teacher should be teaching those courses (in both altered and unaltered classrooms) in order to exclude differences associated with the teacher. Since the investigation aimed to measure the level of attention of the students that were in both classrooms. We designed two measurement strategies that correspond to the two types of researches that study the relationship between noise and attention. However, this study presents important differences regarding the strategies that are traditionally associated with embedded figures tests, tests regarding global shape processing and details, or surveillance tasks, because these situations were not controlled within a lab but real noise situations in a classroom. Two strategies of attention measurement were used. The first strategy measured the level of attention through a questionnaire with words belonging and not belonging to the class, but related to the subject. The second strategy allows calculating the Attention Index (AI), which would be measured by the average of the times students look away to a specific point, this is indicated in a grid. The results point towards significant differences between the acoustically intervened and non-intervened groups. That difference is significant both for the traditional attention measurement strategy through a questionnaire with word list and for the alternate Attention Index (AI) measurement strategy using a grid. This study shows that noise levels have an important effect on the students’ attention processes, and that specific changes, aimed at decreasing reverberation values in classrooms affect positively the levels of attention and student performance. They also indicate the need to improve the acoustic conditions of learning sites in order to allow students to achieve a better understanding of contents and to lessen the fatigue of the teachers’ voices.

Palabras clave : Noise; Reverberation; Noise barriers; Student performance.

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