The link between HVAC type and student achievement
Jaramillo, Ana Maria
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Researchers and practitioners have found that the type of mechanical system utilized to thermally condition a space impacts the noise level for occupants. Indeed, in schools, air conditioning systems are by far the largest contributors to room noise (Bradley, 2002; Nelson et al., 2005; Siebein et al., 2000). Studies have also demonstrated the impact of noise on youth\'s cognitive performance. The problem is worsened in non-native speakers and children with hearing loss (which can be temporary due to colds and allergies or permanent). No studies yet have bridged those two widely-supported findings: if the type of mechanical system impacts (and often dictates) the noise level in the room, and if the noise level in the room impacts the performance of the student, might there be a correlation between mechanical system type and student achievement? An examination of 73 elementary schools in a single Orlando, Florida school district suggests that, for schools populated with students of similar socio-economic background, schools cooling with the noisiest types of mechanical system, with both a compressor and fan exposed to the room, underperformed on standardized student achievement tests relative to those with quieter types of systems. Also, schools with the highest percentages of low socio-economic level children are more likely to get the noisiest type of cooling system. Mechanical system data was gathered through an online survey answered by facility maintenance managers and school percentage student achievement scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) were obtained from public online data for years 2003 to 2010 for third grade only. This is the earliest students are tested by the FCATs and studies show a larger impact of noise at an early age. This study examined as well the extent to which teachers believe noise from mechanical systems has an effect on student learning and under what conditions. Results from an online survey sent to third grade teachers in the same schools show that teachers generally judge noise levels in their classroom to be sufficiently quiet and do not consider noise to be a problem that needs addressing. However, in open-ended questions teachers demonstrated an understanding of the effects of noise in children\'s concentration and classroom speech communication.
- Doctoral Dissertations