Many classrooms have fixed seating, so instructors do not have a choice about how they arrange the students' seating for different learning activities.
- However, if you are fortunate enough to be in a room with movable seating, there are a variety of seating options beyond the standard rows, small group, and/or circles, each of which may facilitate specific forms of interaction, cooperation, collaboration, and/or active learning.
- Changing the seating pattern changes the dynamic and may help (or hinder) various learning activities.
- Below are some teaching and learning factors to consider as well as images of options beyond rows, squares, and circles as you plan your in-class activities.
A. Some Teaching Factors to Consider (from "Creating an Effective Learning Environment")
- "[T]he types of activities your class will do on a regular basis"
- "[W]hen students need to work independently and ... when they will work within a group"
- "[E]asy access to all the materials they will need" for learning, e.g. screens, boards, etc.
- "[P]romot[ing] reflective learning ... to develop skills in analysis and critical thinking"
B. Some Learning Factors to Consider (from "How Classroom Design Affects Student Engagement")
Within the context of a planned teaching/learning activity, desk/chair/table arrangements should be considered for their potential and/or limitations in regard to the following factors:
- Active involvement
- Opportunity to engage
- Repeated exposure to material through multiple means
- In-class feedback
- Real-life scenarios
- Ability to engage ways of learning best
- Physical movement
- Feeling comfortable to participate
- Creation of an enriching experience
C. Some Common Models
1. 11 Options
2. 4 More Options