January 2011 – blogUT

I recently came across a comical picture that describes the seating arrangements of university students in a lecture/seminar. While this may be a satirical take on students, I have to wonder if this is true. Does sitting closer to the front give you a chance to really soak in information? Does sitting near the doors mean you want the easiest way to exit? Does sitting in the back indicate you’re “too cool” to sit at the front and spend your time texting your friends?

Some would argue and say that “yes, seating does matter”. Seating would matter in the sense of how well you would pay attention. Sitting in the first few rows allows for a closer look at the professor and you would have to be paying attention because you’re right within the professor’s field of vision. Being in the first few rows would allow you to be alert and ready to take on the lecture at hand.

However there are others who would counter that argument and say “no, seating does not matter”. Their reasoning would be that regardless of where you are sitting in class, what actually matters are the marks from the assignments and/or exam. It could also depend on if the student was early or late for the class and they just pick whatever seat was available.

With these two arguments in mind, I attempted to put this ‘seating arrangement’ matter into my own hands. I spent this past week sitting in different areas of the classroom: front, middle row, back, near a door, etc. While this may not be everyone else’s experience, this was mine.

Sitting in the front row actually ‘pressured’ me into paying FULL attention to the lecture and discussion and reduced the temptation to glance over at my phone, for fear of being rude to the professor. I was fully engaged in the class. Now sitting in the center of the room seemed to reduce that ‘pressure’ that the front row gave. The center was a bit more relaxed and I was able to pay attention without getting distracted by my phone. The back of the classroom, you know the “too cool for school” section seemed the most relaxed. I actually typed the introduction for this piece while sitting there. (I advise you to NOT do this!)

All in all, I believe that for me personally, seating in a lecture does matter. Although my “seating arrangement experiment” was not a formal one, it did provide some insight into this ‘myth’ of where people sit in class. This ‘myth’ might not apply to others but I believe it’s an interesting topic for debate and discussion.

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