Can you hear me now?
Study shows students don’t hear as well as they think
By Jill Pease
Some college students who think they have normal hearing may actually be overestimating their abilities. In a UF study of college students who believed they had normal hearing, one-quarter did not have normal hearing sensitivity.
It was an unexpected discovery made during the early stages of another study. UF researchers at the College of Public Health and Health Professions were recruiting college students with normal hearing for a study on temporary hearing loss and personal music players.
“You would expect normal hearing in that population,” said lead researcher Colleen Le Prell, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of speech, language and hearing sciences. “The criteria for normal hearing we used for the study were, we thought, extremely liberal criteria.”
The study findings appeared last month in a special supplement of the International Journal of Audiology.
The UF study involved 56 college students with an average age of 21. In 25 percent of the participants, researchers measured 15 decibels or more of hearing loss at one or more test frequencies, an amount that is not severe enough to require a hearing aid but could disrupt learning, Le Prell said. Of the participants who demonstrated hearing loss, 7 percent had 25 decibels or more of hearing loss, which is clinically diagnosed as mild hearing loss.
“A number of studies have shown that even a mild hearing loss that isn’t treated clinically is associated with behavioral issues in school, like poor performance on tests and lower evaluations by teachers,” Le Prell said.