Where do you sit in the classroom?


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   Being that we go to such a large university, although it depends on your major, many of us are typically used to having class in large lecture halls.  Depending on where you are sitting, it could be very difficult to pay attention, hear the professor, or be able to see what is being presented in front of you.  Most teachers and even parents often encourage students to sit towards the front of the classroom, making it almost impossible to not pay attention or even become so easily distracted. 
071002_missouri_macs.jpg
   Above is a picture of a college lecture hall at The Missouri School of Journalism.  This classroom fits hundreds of students.  When entering the room whenever they have class, it is more of an important decision than one thinks when the choose where to sit, and if they sit with friends or acquaintances.  I've always found the following question very interesting: does where you sit in class say anything about you and does it have any effect on grades?
   Thanks to <a href="http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/campuslife/does-where-you-sit-in-class-say-a-lot-about-you">USA Today</a> article, my question was successfully answered.  Chris Hakala, a psychology professor at the Western New England University, states that where a student sits in the classroom affects how the professor perceives them.  It is often found that students who sit in the front of the classroom have a much easier time developing stronger relationships with professors, but will not necessarily translate into better grades.  Sitting in the front almost always improves classroom engagement, but the grades depend a lot on the individual student.  Hakala says, "In bigger classes, students in front do tend to be better students.  That being said, if you tell a bad student to sit up front, it's not going to do a lot."  
    The article states that there has been a lot of research as to whether seat placement has a strong correlation to grades and GPA.  However, the data is difficult to interpret because it does specify a clear enough correlation.  As we learned in class, correlation is not causation.  Although, Dr. Paul Adams, a dean at Wilkes-Barre University, states that the middle of the classroom is the absolute worst place to sit.  He says that when a teacher is presenting in a lecture hall, their eyes almost always go to the front or way back of the classroom.  The middle is simply overlooked <a href="http://www.creators.com/advice/tween-12-and-20/sit-in-the-front-of-the-classroom-to-pay-better-attention.html">Creators.com</a>
   You may be thinking, "Well I sit in the back of the classroom and I do completely fine in class".  The amount of time spent on the subject and class outside the classroom as well the preparation put into exams are third variables that could obviously affect grades and GPA. I searched awhile through numerous websites to see if I could find an experimental test that touched the subject but was unable to find one.  The hypothesis that where one sits in the classroom has no affect on grades is one that needs further research.  My only advice, don't sit in the middle!

1 Comment

I don't think that you will find any real link between overall GPA and where someone sits. However, I don't doubt that where someone sits would affect how much time they have to actually study to get a certain grade, as I am sure that affects how you absorb the information in a lecture. Now that I think about it, I think you could find a very strong correlation between how well the students actually absorb the information in a lecture, and where they sit in the class, and this is actually a very testable hypothesis. You could give pop quizzes right after a lecture, have students write down their seat number, and the scores would most likely lean toward sitting in the front as being better. I think this could be done in this class especially, as the same quizzes are given over years at a time, so you could choose one particular subject and follow the results of one quiz over time. Let's hope Andrew doesn't read this and start this year.......

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