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Seating plans- rows or not?

Updated: May 22

Half-term is over and it might be time to start thinking about your class seating arrangements. Many schools encourage teachers to change it around every so often but with this in mind, what does the research currently say about seating arrangements.

According to AC Fernandes in a journal titled "The impact of seating locations on student classroom learning" a student's seating location has a clear impact on their engagement in lessons and their overall attainment. In m opinion, this makes it a teacher's responsibility to get the seating plan right for an optimal learning environment.

Now it is obvious that teachers will place students based on particular characters that do not work so well together. However what is not so obvious is how to lay out the room. Research by Marx, Fuhrer & Hartig, (1999) showed that student participation is higher when not sat in rows. This evidence suggests that more questions are asked and more interaction occurs when students are all sat in this way rather than in rows. I'm not suggesting getting rid of the rows from all classes, they do serve their purpose and we'll get to that later. If you have classes that are particularly quiet and you're trying to increase engagement- have a go at a horseshoe or semi-circle arrangement that is linked with increased student participation in questioning.

What about rows? Rows are shown to, in most of the literature, encourage desired student behaviour. (Simmons & Carpenter, 2015) Seating student in rows encourages silent and independent work and can assist the teacher in managing behaviour. If your classes are challenging in this way- keep them in rows!

The actual placing of individual students must consider so many other factors- more to come on this matter soon! Let us know your thoughts on seating arrangements and we'll comment on the research that supports your strategies/ methods in our next article.

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