A pilot study in primary school on the effect of a noise monitoring system with lighting feedback on teachers’ voice parameters, noise levels and subjective assessments
* Presenting author
Teachers’ vocal behaviour is affected by noise generated by pupils that talk and move in classroom. Under noise conditions, teachers are likely to increase their voice level, thus causing possible negative consequences on their vocal health. In this pilot study a noise monitoring system with a lighting feedback, namely SEM (Speech and Sound SEMaphore), has been used as an educational tool. It encourages pupils to reduce their voice volumes through a coloured lighting feedback. Seven teachers from four classes of a primary school in Turin (Italy) have been monitored over two or four working days with SEM switched on and off. The results have shown that the background noise level averagely decreased of about 2 dB after the SEM was switched on. With SEM switched off a Lombard effect has occurred, i.e. an increase in the speech level with background noise level at a rate of about 0.4 dB/dB. Conversely, such effect has not been found with SEM switched on, that is when pupils effectively lowered their voice volume in answer to the lighting feedback. Self-reported responses of teachers indicated that SEM effectively reduces vocal effort and improves speech intelligibility in the classroom.