Author Topic: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation  (Read 8695 times)

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Offline Olexandra

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Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« on: March 07, 2012, 11:25:24 PM »
Apart from learning conditions, equipment, materials, tasks, and emotional environment in the classroom, there is one more factor that can raise students' motivation, but is often neglected or underestimated by teachers. It is physical environment, or more specifically, seating arrangement. In this post I am going to explain why rearrangement of classical students' seating can help recreate new unexpected situations and give some physical relaxation invoving moving activities.
The classical seating arrangement is a teacher facing students, and students seating at their desks (in pairs or separately). Seating arrangement depends on the character of the activities proposed. Changing seating arrangments is in most cases stipulated by group activities. Scrivener (1998) claims that teachers should not only plan the tasks and activities for students, but also consider which seating  arrangments are most appropriate for each activity. The most wide-spread variants of seating arrangments include the following:
1)
2)
3)

Byrne (1992) and Scrivener (1998) propose some more patterns of seating arrangments in class:
- "enemy corners" - good for debates between two opposing teams who seat in front of each other;
- "panel" / "public meeting" - suitable for the activities involving occasional regrouping of learners; 
- "wheels" - suitable for such activities where students in the position of "outer wheel" change pairings.

Rearrangements of students seats can be very helpful in early morning/late evening classes when students are either still sleepy, or already too tired to be productive. Such students need some external push to wake up and feel more active. Moving around in the classroom, changing groupmates frequently can affect students' performance significantly. In some cases teacher might even want to offer students some standing group work activities. What is more, some researchers (Nunan (1989), Woodward (1991)) even offer carry activities wholly or partly outside classroom (parks, coffee-shops, even stores). 

Offline Randall Sadler

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 04:46:32 PM »
Great info!  Someone needs to also invent an easy way to have mobile positions in computer labs.  I hate always being stuck in rows!!!

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Offline Freddy Freitez

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 01:12:59 PM »
This is really important. To do this, not only shapes but  also personality traits should be considered to make the most out of it... and to avoid problems!

Offline marta2

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 12:42:19 PM »
When I first taught one my classes, we were sitting in "theater" style, but once I changed it to a "U" shape, I saw a huge increase in student participation. Instead of just listening to me, the students were paying more attention and responding to things that their classmates said. I also find it much easier to reach each group and give feedback/suggestions when students are working in groups/pairs
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 12:45:22 PM by marta2 »

Offline twang13

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 12:44:06 PM »
This is an interesting information. The most difficult part I think about is how to make it possible to easily change the seat arrangement in the class if the class is long. If the equipment could be mobile, that would be wonderful! But I know it will be very expensive. :P But we still could make it manually as long as teachers could have good class management.

Offline tsong

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 12:54:45 PM »
I remember learning about this in my early childhood edu courses, saying that student misbehavior may not be due to just the student, but maybe to the teacher or seating arrangement. If they can't see, then they won't focus! Also, I agree with the point about personality traits, and that that should be considered to provide optimal learning conditions for each student. Maybe if the students are older, you could let them choose where to sit. Of course, forewarn them that if their choice of seating affects their focus or studies, you will move them. If you notice that friends are sitting together and they're still focusing, that should be okay. However, if they become too chatty or relaxed in class or "working together" on too many assignments, you would of course move them. For younger children, or for when you first meet your students, you don't have much background or real knowledge about them. You might hear about them from previous teacher, but you don't actually know for sure yet, and the student may be different in your class! In that case, you'd have to observe how your students perform in different situations, and maybe even what students they work better with. Then, when it comes time to change seats, take those into account. Also, for the younger ones, you'll probably be switching seats a couple times a year/semester so that they can learn different things from different classmates. ;D

Offline Evan Branson

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Re: Seating rearrangement as a factor of students' motivation
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2016, 05:49:26 PM »
I think this is an interesting potential study. What if we could compare a large number of similar classrooms with all variables held except for classroom seating differences? hmm... Or has this already been done?