Written by Jo Budden, British Council, Spain, © British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN, UK A recent study in the Netherlands explored the different types of seating arrangements in elementary schools, and the teachers' considerations for deciding who sits where (Gremmen, van den Berg, Segers, & Cillessen, 2016). Conclusion I suggest you try as many classroom layouts as you can to see how you feel most comfortable. The research in this study focused on a holistic environment-human-performance model examining school and classroom spaces and relating these to individual pupil progress statistics. State Government of Victoria, Australia © 2019. ScienceDirect ® is a registered trademark of Elsevier B.V. ScienceDirect ® is a registered trademark of Elsevier B.V. The view of the blackboard differs dramatically from one part of the room to another often because of a glare from the ceiling lights. I substitute a lot of classes, so I don't necessarily know all the students' names so it's vital to be able to see them all. There is no ideal classroom layout for all activities.' Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. or its licensors or contributors. Someone may be teaching in a room for years without realising the students in a quadrant of the room will have difficulty seeing the blackboard or charts. Forty years ago, US environmental psychologist Professor Robert Sommer had this to say about choosing a classroom layout. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Teacher, published by the Australian Council for Educational Research. The identification of the impact of the built environment factors on learning progress is a major new finding for schools' research, but also suggests that the scale of the impact of building design on human performance and wellbeing in general, can be isolated and that it is non-trivial. Learning Environments Research, 2(3), 249-263. There is no ideal classroom layout for all activities.' ​​​What effect do different classroom seating arrangements have on student participation? We use cookies to help provide and enhance our service and tailor content and ads. Social Psychology of Education, 19(4), 749-774. A significant opportunity exists for maximizing learning opportunities and creating meaningful experiences by rethinking the classroom experience. Sommer, R. (1977). Classroom layout. Fernandes, Huang & Rinaldo (2011) say it would be good for students if the learning activity dictated the seating. Considerations for classroom seating arrangements and the role of teacher characteristics and beliefs. The muted impact of the whole-building level of analysis provides some support for the importance of “inside-out design”. Should teachers or students decide who sits where? 'The lighting is much better in one part of the room than elsewhere, it is cold over by the windows, and perhaps too warm by the heating vent. Theory into Practice, 16(3), 174-175. However, even if the furniture is immobile, remember that your students aren't, so you can think about how you want to group students and how you can use the space you have to your advantage. ‘The teacher’s educational philosophy will be reflected in the layout of the classroom. (Sommer, 1977). Effects of classroom seating arrangements on children's question-asking. You can usually get the students to help you and as long as you give the instructions in English it's all good language practice! Here are some questions to consider: For me, the first question is really important. If you really can't change how your classrooms are set up, then do spend time thinking about how you can vary where your students sit and where you position yourself in the room too. The importance of layout When you're planning your lessons do you ever think about the layout of the classroom? ', This advice is still relevant today. Inadequate lighting, noise, low air quality, and deficient heating in the classroom are significantly related to worse student achievement. Throwing it open to students to decide means some will get a better pick than others. The layout of your classroom can have a serious impact on the way you teach and the way your students learn. 10 environmental factors of the classroom and 5 non-e factors are analysed. The teacher should be able to justify the arrangement of desks and chairs on the basis of certain educational goals. A study involving a class of fourth graders in Germany (Marx, Fuhrer & Hartig, 1999) looked at whether different seating arrangements led to students asking more questions. Please enable scripts and reload this page. Sommer argues that, far from being a 'single homogeneous space cube' a classroom is lots of connected micro-environments. Gremmen, M. C., van den Berg, Y. H., Segers, E., & Cillessen, A. H. (2016). How are you going to teach, what will the learning activity be and what do you want to achieve? This may involve using spaces at the front, or down the side of the classrooms, letting students stand up or to sit on the tables to do certain activities. He goes on to give a few examples: the traditional row and column style with all seats facing the front lends itself to 'sit-and-listen teaching'; for group work, where students share tasks and cooperate 'cluster tables are best'; and if you're using equipment that needs some space, such as Cuisenaire rods in mathematics, then you're going to need long tables. By continuing you agree to the use of cookies. 'Our results showed that question-asking was more frequent when the children were seated in the semicircular arrangement than in the row-and-column arrangement,' the researchers report. With Bring your own device programs (BYOD) and smartboards, screen glare can be a problem. The teacher should be able to justify the arrangement of desks and chairs on the basis of certain educational goals. You can usually get the students to help you and as long as you give the instructions in English it's all good language practice! Children in these zones (those with a more central seating location) asked more questions per lesson. Which brings us back to Sommer's suggestion to choose something that works for you and your students, in your context, at that particular point in time. Now, I'd like to look at a few typical classroom layouts. Within this structure, seven key design parameters have been identified that together explain 16% of the variation in pupils' academic progress achieved. Classroom layouts The horseshoe Tables in a horseshoe or three sided square shape. Traditional classroom layout. Sommer adds: 'A few students may have an outside view, others don't. A display board is placed in the front of the room, a teacher desk is placed near the front and the student desks are arranged in rows facing the front. The study uses multilevel statistical modelling for the nested situation. Forty years ago, US environmental psychologist Professor Robert Sommer had this to say: 'The teacher's educational philosophy will be reflected in the layout of the classroom. (Sommer, 1977) All the students will be able to see you, the board and each other and you will … There may also be a physical barrier between students in the rear and portions of the blackboard, such as a tall student in a front desk.'. An Environment-behaviour factors model is strongly validated. The classroom dynamics can improve dramatically when you change the layout, it's a matter of experimenting and seeing what works best for you and your students and it's something that you may want to take into consideration at the lesson planning stage. © BBC World Service, Bush House, Strand, London WC2B 4PH, UK, Conducting Feedback on Exercises and Tasks, Evidence-based reflection and teacher development, CLIL and EMI - From Schools to Higher Education, ELTons Innovation Awards 2020: Awards ceremony, Education exchange: Schools reopening - pupil well-being. Evidence-based teaching approaches for your classroom, Professional learning opportunities for teachers, Register for Bastow’s Managing Emotions webinars, Supporting your role as a literacy leader. When asked about opting for certain classroom arrangements, the 50 teachers mentioned between two and 19 reasons – most of them were academic (31 per cent) but 17 per cent were related to classroom management. Sometimes it may be impossible and impractical to move the furniture around at all for many reasons including the fact that in some schools the tables are bolted to the floor! The impact of classroom design on pupils' learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis. Data on the 3766 pupils who occupied those spaces were also collected, including the focal dependent … Do certain seating arrangements en​​courage participation? Classroom layout is not just a matter of rearranging chairs, but rather of purposefully rearranging a classroom to achieve desired outcomes. What does your learning space reveal about your teaching philosophy? Scientific research shows how the physical classroom environment influences student achievement. This article looks at some of the basic points that you can consider regarding the way you arrange your classroom. Can I move around the room so that I can monitor effectively. Although it can seem like an extra effort and a waste of time I find that spending the first two minutes of a class moving the furniture so that I can see every single face is time well invested.

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