Batho, L. P., Martinussen, R., & Wiener, J. (2020). The effects of different types of environmental noise on academic performance and perceived task difficulty in adolescents with ADHD . Journal of Attention Disorders , 24 (8), 1181–1191. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054715594421
Batho, L. P., Martinussen, R., & Wiener, J. (2020). The effects of different types of environmental noise on academic performance and perceived task difficulty in adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 24(8), 1181–1191. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054715594421
The potential effects of environmental noise—nonsense speech (background babble) and white noise—were investigated relative to a no-noise control testing condition. Although not designed as accommodations within the study, performance in these testing conditions can inform the needs of students with disabilities.
Fifty-two (52) high school-aged youth (ages 14–16) with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), recruited through disability organizations and schools in Ontario, Canada, participated. Demographic and other information including sex (male/female), age, medication use, and family home languages was reported; 41 participants had individualized education program (IEP) plans. Potential participants were not included if they had a prior genetic or neurological disorder diagnosis; however, participants could have had a co-occurring learning disability or mental health disability. Screening tests included the Conners 3rd edition (Conners, 2008), the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP), the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS), the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), and the Working Memory Test Battery for Children (WMTB-C; Pickering & Gathercole, 2001).
Performance was assessed on academic tasks requiring a high degree of cognitive demand, including reading comprehension with an oral retell task, and written expression, incorporating proportion of correct written sequences for testing mechanics, and total words written for writing fluency. Time for silently reading the reading passage was also documented. [A reading passage from the Qualitative Reading Inventory–Third Edition (QRI-3; Leslie & Caldwell, 2001) provided the academic content.] The perceived difficulty of each task was also rated by participants.
Participants had no significant differences in academic scores in reading or writing across the three test conditions—no-noise, white noise, and background babble. There was a mix of non-significant average score comparisons: (a) participants did somewhat best on reading comprehension in the no-noise condition, (b) they completed reading in slightly less time in the white noise condition, (c) they did slightly best in writing accuracy in the background babble condition, and (d) they produced (somewhat) the most written words in the white noise condition. Participants indicated that both the reading task and the writing task were most difficult in the background babble condition and least difficult in the no-noise condition. The only statistically significant performance difference among participant characteristics was linked to medication status.