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The Effects of Classroom Seating Arrangements On On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance

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The Effects of Classroom Seating Arrangements On On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance

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The effects of classroom seating arrangements on on task behavior and academic performance

The Effects of Classroom Seating Arrangements On On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance

An Action Research Project

By Danielle Steger

EDUC 702.22

Spring 2010

Table of contents



-Statement of the Problem

-Review of Related Literature

-Statement of the Hypothesis

• Method

-Participants (N)

-Instruments (s)

-Experimental Design


• Results

• Discussion

• Implications

• References

Table of Contents



Seating arrangement has been a topic of debate since the early 1900’s.

Popularity has moved from single row or column seating to cluster seating, a model to encourage cooperative learning.

The question still remains, what is the most effective seating arrangement for the primary classroom setting?

Is there one particular model that should be used 100% of the school day, or should the lesson dictate the seating arrangement?

Statement of the problem

Statement of theProblem

PS X has adopted cluster seating for all classrooms, 100% of the school day. Independent math practice at PS X is complicated by off-task behavior and would benefit from a less distracting seating arrangement, such as paired columns.

Review of related literature

The Importance of Seating Arrangement

• Room arrangement affects

the learning process, student behavior, and student engagement.

(Bonus & Riordan, 1998; Florman, 2003; Lackney

& Jacobs, 2002; Proshansky & Wolfe, 1974; Richards, 2006; Strong-Wilson & Ellis, 2007; Susi, 1989; Weinstein, 1977).

PROS: Research Supporting Row Seating

• On-task behavior increases with rows.

(Hastings & Schwieso, 1995).

Review of Related Literature

Review of related literature1

Review of Related Literature

PROS: Research Supporting Row Seating

• Students prefer orderliness and clear views of the teacher.

(Raviv, Raviv & Reisel, 1990).

• Some learners prefer to learn alone or with one partner.

(Burke & Burke-Samide, 2004; Church, 2004;

Dunn & Dunn, 1975).

• Learning style is 60% biological.

(Dunn, 1990).

Review of related literature2

Review of Related Literature

PROS: Research Supporting Row Seating

• Row seating reduces talking.

(Koneya, 1976; Ridling, 1994; Silverstein & Stang, 1976; Wannarka & Ruhl, 2008; Weinstein, 1979).

• In the 1900’s the business model entered the American education system based on the German model of efficiency.

(Callehan, 1962).

Review of related literature3

PROS: Problems With Cluster Seating

• Increased proximity increases likelihood of off-task conversations.

(Koneya, 1976; Ridling, 1994; Weinstein, 1979).

PROS: Theorists and Supporters of Row Seating

• Students prefer row seating.

(McCorskey & MCVetta, 1978).

• Task orientation is improved.

(Raviv, Raviv & Reisel, 1990; Weinstein, 1979).

Review of Related Literature

Review of related literature4

CONS: Arguments Supporting Cluster Seating

• It is ideal for socially facilitated learning.

(Patton, Snell, Knight & Florman, 2001).

• It promotes “innovation.”

(Raviv, Raviv & Reisel, 1990).

• Students like each other more and communicate better when facing each other.

(O’Hare, 1998; Bovard, 1951).

CONS: Arguments Against Row Seating

• Row seating impedes a teacher’s ability to walk between student desks and assess learning.

(Weaver Dunne, 2001).

Review of Related Literature

Statement of the hypothesis

Statement of the Hypothesis

HR1: Changing the seating arrangement from cluster seating to paired columns over a five week period will increase the on-task behavior of 25 common branch second grade students at PS X during math class, and lead to increased scores on math assessments.



Class A

• Began with 24 students

(12 boys, 12 girls)

• Ended with 25

(12 boys, 13 girls)

Class B

• 2nd Grade

•PS X, Brooklyn • 24 students

• Common Branch (14 boys, 10 girls)

• Title 1 school

• Cluster Seating




Student Surveys

• Class A Pre-test

• Class B Pre-test

• Class A Post-test

Unit Tests(enVision program)

• Unit Tests 1-11 (Pre-test)

• Unit Tests 12-14 (Post-test)


Research design

Research Design

Quasi Experimental: Nonequivalent Control Group Design.

• Two groups: Designated treatment group (X1) and control group (X2) are pre-tested (O), exposed to a treatment (X), and post-tested (O).

• Symbolic Design:

O X1 O

O X2 O

• Groups not randomly assigned.

Threats to validity

Internal Threats

• History

• Maturation

• Testing

• Instrumentation

• Selection

• Mortality

• Selection-Maturation Interaction

External Threats

• Generalizable Conditions

• Pre-Test Treatment Selection

• Treatment Interaction

• Specificity of Variables

• Multiple Treatments

Threats to Validity



September 2009 – January 2010

• Pretest Data Collection (Unit Tests 1-11)

February 2010

• Class A Pre-test Survey

• Class B Pre-test Survey

February 2010 – March 2010

• Intervention in Class A

• Post-test Data Collection (Unit Tests 12-14)

March 2010

• Class A Post-test Survey



Class A Post-test

*No correlation was found.

*rxy = +0.57



Class A & B Pre-test

* Class A average 85%, Class B average 86%.

* Class B performed 1% higher than Class A.



Class A & B Post-test

* Class A average 80%, Class B average 79%.

* Class A performed 1% higher than Class B.



• Theorists link seating arrangement with a child’s ability to remain attentive, work productively, and learn.

(Bonus & Riordan, 1998; Burke & Burke-Samide, 2004; Koneya, 1976; Lackney & Jacobs, 2002; McCorskey & McVetta, 1978; Proshansky & Wolfe, 1974; Richards, 2006; Strong-Wilson & Ellis, 2007; Susi, 1989; Weinstein, 1979).

• The results support the research:

- Class A and B were taught using identical

lesson plans, resources, and assessments.

- Pre-test: Class B outperformed Class A. - Post-test: Class A outperformed Class B.



• A change in seating improved test scores in Class B.

• More research needs to be done.

• More participants are needed.

• A longer study needs to be done.