Episode 26 - Classroom Noise and Learning with Jessica Massonnié

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Show Notes:

This is the sixth episode in a series recorded in London! In June 2018 we attended the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference (or, more simply, EARLI) for the special interest group on Neuroscience and Education (@EarliSIG22). While there, we recorded live interviews with teachers and researchers. 

In this episode, we speak with Jessica Massonnié, who is pursuing her PhD at Birkbeck University on the effects of noise in primary school classrooms. She Tweets at @jess_masso and you can find her website here.


Primary school classrooms tend to be noisy (approximately as noisy as traffic or a vacuum cleaner). Jessica's work looks at how this noise affects learning outcomes. One of her first studies looked at the effect of recoded classroom noise on children's creativity in a lab environment. In the podcast, Jessica talks about some preliminary findings from this study.

More recently, Jessica has moved on to classroom-based research. In a study that takes place in France, she is looking at individual differences in how annoying children find noise. This factor appears to be related to how difficult it is for children to switch between tasks, and how often they mind-wander. Jessica is also looking at the effects of a mindfulness intervention on noise levels, noise awareness, and French/math test performance. 

The big take-away

It's important to be aware of noise levels; for example you can easily download an app to check noise levels in your environment. It would also be good to identify sources of noise in the learning environment - particular noises that are completely irrelevant to learning, such as the sounds of chairs scraping on the floor - and attempt to eliminate those noises.

Relevant reading and links:

Klatte, M., Bergström, K., & Lachmann, T. (2013). Does noise affect learning? A short review on noise effects on cognitive performance in children. Frontiers in Psychology4, 578.

Mehta, R., Zhu, R., & Cheema, A. (2012). Is noise always bad? Exploring the effects of ambient noise on creative cognition. Journal of Consumer Research39, 784-799.

Shield, B., & Dockrell, J. E. (2004). External and internal noise surveys of London primary schools. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America115, 730-738.

A website with yoga tutorials, created by the expert we have hired for my school study. 

A kit created by the association I am part of, to introduce children to the brain, to attention and distraction.

Previous Episodes from this series:

Episode 27 - Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia with Jane Emerson

Episode 25 - An Interview with Two Teachers