Noise, Distraction and Privacy in Conventional and Open School Environments
This paper focuses on the relationships between noise, distraction and privacy as perceived by students in open and conventional elementary and secondary schools. The effects of such factors as the nature of the educational program and classroom density upon student perceptions are also explored. It is commonly assumed that high noise levels result in high distraction. Research has shown that this assumption is not commonly supported. Several factors must be considered. First, the nature of the noise itself has different properties and is perceived differently; noise comes from many sources. Thus, different types of noise at the same intensity may have different effects. Secondly, not only are there different types of noise that may have disruptive effects, but there are also distracting factors not associated with noise, e.g., movement, crowding, temperature, etc. Third, the nature of the activity being performed may not require low noise levels for proper concentration. Fourth, perceptual levels vary with individuals. Thus, the first task was to determine to what extent noise levels were perceived differently by students in open and conventional space. The second task was to determine to what degree such factors as the type of educational program or classroom crowding (density) affect these relationships. Third was the task of investigating the noise-distraction relationship and to determine if students were distracted to a greater degree in open space. And a fourth task was to determine if open space
results in reduced privacy for students.