Which is your favourite seating position in class? For me back then, I love to sit somewhere in front. Maybe because of my sight, or, perhaps because of the proximity to the teacher. The choice of seating position in class is somewhat dependent on the students. While some prefer to sit in front, others love to sit at the back, and just around the middle is what does it for some other students. In many instances however, seating arrangements are determined by the teachers. They say who sits where, and who doesn’t sit where.

While we sit where we love to in class, does seating position is in any way connected to academic performance? Well, where students sit in class can have a major impact on their experience, grades and ultimately the value of their education, according to numerous academic studies as well as anecdotal evidence from teachers and students.

Classroom seating position should be chosen wisely, as the decision can have consequences for students’ academic performance. According to a study published in 2013, GPAs decreased by 0.1 point on a four-point scale for every row further back students sit.

Front-row seats

Appraising classroom rows based on academic success, some professors have observed that the front row remains prime sitting position typically held by outgoing scholarly students. “I notice the more prepared and personable students sit in front rows,” said Dr. Chris Hammons, interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and chair of the department of government (London). “Students in the front almost always score higher on exams.”

Perhaps more importantly, the front row may be the ideal location for shy, timid students who have trouble paying attention, Also, sitting closer to the front of the room does have an effect on student-teacher rapport, which is linked to greater academic performance, according to a Jan. 5 article by Julie Mastrine in USA Today College.

Stuck in the middle

Still, some students prefer the middle rows. This location in the classroom can make paying attention difficult depending on the student. In fact, Dr. Robert Wallace, a member of the National Education Association, considers choosing to sit in the middle of the classroom one of the worst decisions a student can make. “In a classroom setting, a speaker’s eyes tend to go to the front of the room and the back,” he wrote in an article for Creators.com. “They don’t look at the centre of a room as often or with the same amount of attention.”

Well, I don’t agree with Wallace’s viewpoint, especially when teachers, much like homeowners associations, take matters into their own hands. Sometimes these teachers arrange student seating to encourage more classroom discussions. Other tactics often employed include specifically calling on everyone or even engaging the class with group discussions or presentations.

Back-row blues

If neither the front nor middle is suitable for a student, there can only be one other solution: the back.

For the broker on the value of classroom seating, the back row would have the lowest value. This fringe vicinity of the physical classroom often plays host to the biggest distractions, with texting, chatting and sleeping setting in like squatters at a foreclosed home.

Back to my own experience, many distractions occur at the back of the classroom. That’s where students would chat, play video games and do some other stuff which the teacher must not know about. With the advent of Facebook and the likes, I am sure the situation would be worse by now.

Distractions

Phone owners, apprehensive students or students with attention-deficit disorder should avoid sitting in the back, according to numerous studies. Fellow students often are some of the biggest distractions, but it is possible for students who are good listeners to still perform well in subjects despite the back-of-the-class distractions. Those who do not listen well or are easily distracted may want to divert from the back row, and it might even be better for them to avoid it altogether and shift themselves and their school supplies to the front of class to help them focus.

Of course there are exceptions to the statistics, which state that sitting in the back of the class increases the probability of receiving a D or F by 23 percent. Well, perhaps, those A-listers who sat at the back would have done better if they had sat in front.

Row placement is not the only critical decision students face when choosing a seat. The position of the seat within the row is equally important. Like being on an airplane or at church, the aisle usually gets taken first as it provides the most legroom and easiest escape route when students decide to duck out of class.

Students who are late the first day usually end up with middle seats, so punctuality is a good strategy for those seeking the aisle.

Verdict unclear

Until more research is done in this area, the final answer to the question about classroom seating arrangements and academic performance remains unclear. But then, depending on your attention/concentration span, including your visual acuity, you should choose the position that will best suit you.

Now tell us which seat position (Front, Middle or Back) do you prefer, and why?