Individual differences in dealing with classroom noise disturbances

Jessica Massonnie*, Denis Mareschal, Natasha Z. Kirkham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Downloads (Pure)


Classrooms are noisy: when children are engaged in solo work, they also hear background babble, noise from outdoor, people moving around. Few studies investigating the effects of noise on academic tasks use naturalistic stimuli. Questions also remain regarding why some children are more impaired by noise than others. This study compared primary school children’s performance at three academic tasks (text recall, reading comprehension, mathematics) in silence, and while hearing irrelevant verbal noise (storytelling, n =33) or mixed noise (outdoor noise, movement, babble, n =31). We found that noise does not impair overall performance. Children might use compensatory strategies (e.g. re-reading) to reach the same level of performance in silence and noise. Individual differences in selective attention and working memory were not related to the impact of noise, with one exception: children with lower working memory were more impaired by noise when doing mathematics. Replication on a larger sample is needed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMind, Brain, and Education
Early online date27 Apr 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 27 Apr 2022


  • children
  • elementary school
  • noise
  • executive functions
  • working memory
  • selective attention
  • academic performance
  • UKRI
  • ESRC
  • ES/1788414


Dive into the research topics of 'Individual differences in dealing with classroom noise disturbances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this