Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Auditory stimuli preferences and their impact on reading comprehension in the classroom

Maeroff, Dalia (2023) Auditory stimuli preferences and their impact on reading comprehension in the classroom. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (1MB) | Preview


There are many theories as to what physical qualities of a classroom improve learning and comprehension, ranging from air quality and type of light to feelings of belonging and seating arrangement present in the room. Here, I adopt an evolutionary perspective on physical learning environments, specifically drawing on stimulus preference research (Ulrich, 1983, 1986), context dependent memory studies (Godden & Baddeley, 1975; Smith & Vela, 2001) the savannah hypothesis (Barkow et al., 1995), and the biophilia hypothesis (R. Kellert & O. Wilson, 1995). A part of evolutionary landscape preference theory and stimulus preference research (Ulrich, 1983, 1986), which proposes that human beings function better when in close proximity to natural resources, such as sunlight, fresh air, water, food, and shelter. Learning, in human beings’ ancestral pasts, has always been conducted outside as a highly experiential, adaptive, and social endeavor. Only in recent human history has learning moved indoors and become less collaborative and hands-on, and more restrictive in how people learn. In today’s physical classroom environment, features like air quality and lighting have already shown a positive benefit on learning (Amirul, 1993). In this work, I further this concept and test the savannah hypothesis and the influence of auditory stimuli in the classroom: how does natural versus unnatural sound stimulus impact learning? 245 psychology students at the University of Pittsburgh took three reading comprehension tests in classrooms while listening to background sound stimuli of natural, city, and classroom soundscapes, as well as answered questions about their stress levels, study habits, sound stimuli preferences and demographic information. The overall difference between the three soundscapes is not significant when submitted to an ANOVA test. There is no significant difference between the mean values of the three soundscapes. Additionally, there is no significant effect of stress, stimuli preferences, and demographic information on performance in different sound conditions. There is a significant effect of places students prefer to study and performance in different sound conditions that provides evidence for context-dependent learning on a more general scale rather than specific situations.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maeroff, DaliaDAM291@pitt.eduDAM291
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFraundorf,
Committee MemberTullis,
Committee MemberNokes-Malach,
Committee MemberCousins,
Date: 28 April 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2023
Approval Date: 28 April 2023
Submission Date: 26 April 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 60
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: psychology, cognitive psychology, learning sciences
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2023 18:19
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2023 18:19


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item