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Factors Influencing Teachers’ Experience of Vocal Fatigue and Classroom Voice Amplification

      Summary

      Background

      Voice disorders among teachers are widespread. Teachers’ voice problems have been shown to influence the teaching-learning process, thereby impeding students’ academic performance. Voice amplification has been used as a preventative strategy to avoid voice problems and as a means of augmenting student reception of a teacher's voice. However, the relationship between perceived vocal fatigue and amplification use has not been established, nor have factors been identified which may be associated with the use of voice amplification in the classroom.

      Purpose

      This research has two aims: (1) determine the relationship between self-reported vocal fatigue and self-reported teachers’ use of sound field amplification in the classroom; and (2) identify which factors are related with the use of amplification systems among the participating teachers.

      Methods

      Paper and online surveys were provided to teachers throughout the United States. These surveys contained the 19-question Vocal Fatigue Index (VFI), in addition to other questions regarding health-related conditions and lifestyle habits of respondents. Access to and use of amplification systems, as well as other work-related factors that might influence the use of such systems were detailed by the respondents.

      Results

      Regardless of grades levels or measured factors, teachers who reported using amplification systems were more likely to report higher levels of vocal fatigue. Teachers who taught in lower grade levels or in larger capacity classrooms not only reported a greater likelihood of using the systems more frequently, but also reported a greater access to amplification systems. Overall, less than 40% of teachers had access to an amplification system. Teachers of lower grades reported having the least access.

      Conclusions

      Our results suggest an association between teachers’ use of voice amplification systems and vocal fatigue. In addition, some work-related factors (eg, grade level, classroom capacity) were associated with the use of amplification systems. The results can be beneficial to teachers, school administrators, lawmakers and health professionals to more efficiently use diminishing educational resources in a targeted fashion to better train and potentially reduce the occurrence of voice problems among teachers.

      Key Words

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