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Noise Distraction

Does It Affect Your Grades?

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Are you distracted by noise? Some students struggle to pay attention in class and other study areas because small background noises interfere with their concentration.

Background noise does not affect all students in the same way. There are a few factors that may determine whether noise distraction is a problem for you.

Noise Distraction and Learning Styles

Three of the most commonly recognized learning styles are visual learning, tactile learning, and auditory learning. It is important to discover your own prominent learning style to determine how to study most effectively, but it's also important to know your learning style in order to recognize potential problems.

Studies have shown that auditory learners are most distracted by background noise. But how will you know if your are an auditory learner?

Auditory learners often:

  • Talk to themselves while reading or studying
  • Move their lips while reading
  • Are better at speaking than writing
  • Spell better out loud
  • Have difficulty visualizing things
  • Can't follow conversations when the TV is on
  • Can mimic songs and tunes well

If you feel that these traits describe your personality, you may need to pay special attention to your study habits and the location of your study space.

Noise Distraction and Personality Type

Two personality types that you may recognize are introversion and extraversion. It is important to know that these types have nothing to do with ability or intelligence; these terms merely describe the way that different people function.

Some students are deep thinkers who tend to talk less than others. These are common traits of introverted students.

One study has shown that noise distraction can be more harmful to introverted students than to extroverted students when it comes to study time. Introverted students can experience more difficulty understanding what they are reading in a noisy environment.

Introverts typically:

  • Like to work independently
  • Are confident about their own opinions
  • Think deeply about things
  • Reflect and analyze more before acting on something
  • Can focus on one thing for a long time
  • Enjoy reading
  • Are happy in their "own little world"
  • Have a few deep friendships

If these traits sound familiar to you, you may want to read more about introversion. You may discover that you need to adjust your study habits to cut down on the potential for noise distraction.

Avoiding Noise Distraction

Sometimes we don't realize how much background noise can affect our performance. If you suspect that noise interference is affecting your grades, you should consider the following recommendations.

Turn off the mp3 and other music when you study. You may love your music, but it's not good for you when you're reading.

Stay away from the TV when doing homework. Television shows contain plots and conversations that can trick your brain into distraction when you don't even realize it! If your family watches TV on one end of the house during homework time, try to move to the other end.

Buy earplugs. Small, expanding foam earplugs are available at large retail stores and auto stores. They're great for blocking out noise.

Consider investing in some noise-blocking earphones. This is a more expensive solution, but it might make a big difference in your homework performance if you have a serious problem with noise distraction.

For more information you may consider:

"The Effects of Noise Distraction on SAT Scores," by Janice M. Chatto and Laura O'Donnell. Ergonomics, Volume 45, Number 3, 2002,pp. 203-217.

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