The use of and attitudes to voice amplification in higher education institutions
Abstract: Background: Voice is still the most important tool used by teachers, but voice is varied and subject to problems. Teachers who lecture for long hours or have taught for most of their professional lives, face issues such as voice discomfort, chronic voice disorders, occupational voice disorder, stress, physiological and psychological problems. Due to issues such as poor acoustics in the classroom and absence of any installed voice amplification system, teachers might be subject to increase their vocal load to reach all the students in the classroom. Purpose: The aim of this study is to study the fundamental frequency (fo) and the strength Leq[dB(C)] of the teacher’s voice, with and without voice amplification system. Method: Students from the preparatory year of their studies at KTH (CBH), were asked if they would like to participate in this study that researches on the voice health of teacher. Two days of teaching sessions were recorded using a microphone attached to the teacher’s mouth and three other static microphones placed in different parts of the room. The voice amplification system used in the study, was the one that was already in use at some of the classrooms at KTH. The students and the participating teacher were given questionnaires, towards the end of the teaching session to voice their opinion on the teaching voice, with and without the voice amplification system. Results: The results from the data collected from the recordings, have shown that the SPL increased between 0.6 dB(C) and 5 dB(C) when the voice amplification system was turned on. The fundamental frequency (fo) of the teacher’s voice reduced by 1.4% with the use of the voice amplifier. The response of the students was overwhelmingly in support of the voice amplification system used during the recordings. 60-62% of female respondents and 68-79% of male respondents felt that the voice amplification system increased the audibility in the classroom. Conclusion: Leq [dB(C)] values from the mics around the classroom showed a considerable increase and thus the amplification system provides a good acoustic condition for the teacher to communicate with his students and a significant improvement in student’s comprehension of the teacher’s voice and learning conditions. There was a decrease in the fo of the teacher’s voice with the amplification, which is good for the teacher’s vocal health and reduces voice disorders while improving the quality and audibility of teacher’s voice. Majority of the students felt that the amplification system was beneficial during the teaching sessions and would like to see more amplifiers installed in more classrooms.
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