Seating position in lecture halls can affect grades

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Choice of seating in the lecture hall can affect a college student’s performance, a study suggests.

Lectures are a staple of higher education, and understanding how students interact and learn within the lecture theatre environment is central to successful learning.

Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK examined students’ reasons for choosing particular seats in a lecture hall, and investigated how seating positions correlate with student performance.

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“Interaction is a key part of learning and knowing who the students are interacting with can be a great benefit when designing activities,” said David P Smith of Sheffield Hallam University.

Many students preferred being able to sit with their friends, while others were more concerned with either attracting or avoiding the lecturer’s attention.

Some students chose seats that allowed them to see and hear clearly, while others picked easily vacatable seats that made them feel less anxious, researchers said.

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Friendship groups who sat together tended to achieve similar grades, and students who sat alone at the edges tended to do worse than average.

Lecturers may be able to use these findings to provide assistance to anxious students, and to support the learning of all students by encouraging interactions between the different groups.

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