From Guest Blogger: Lauren Moffett
The arrangement of the desks in your classroom might be affecting your students’ abilities to learn and to pay attention, says Carolyn Evertson, Ph.D. & Inge Poole, Ph.D. of Vanderbilt University in their case study entitled Effective Room Arrangement (PDF).
With distractions such as pencil sharpening, interruptive peer-to-peer interaction, and trashcan ‘basketball’, students will find anything to divert the attentions of themselves and others from the subject at hand; minimizing their exposure to distracting tasks could save the teacher, and the student, time and will ultimately maximize the amount of time learning in the classroom setting.
In their study, Evertson and Poole map out various seating arrangements that best suit the type of individual in a classroom, from a very social child to one with special physical needs (such as a student in a wheelchair). Possible strategies to alleviate various problems with students include minimizing distractions, maximizing access, matching arrangement to lesson purpose, and movement with ease. These tactics were developed from the following stats collected by Evertson and Poole:
- Items (windows, doors, aquariums, etc.), equipment (computers, overhead projectors, etc.), and individuals (reading groups, adjacent peers, etc.) can be distracting.
- Preventing distractions helps to decrease misbehavior, but is even more effective when replaced by positive teacher statements.
- High traffic areas (water fountain, pencil sharpener, trash can, teacher’s desk, etc.) need to be arranged to avoid congestion and to minimize the distraction their use causes.
- Many studies have identified teacher interaction with students is connected to student seating location. Those students seated at the front of the room and down its center are more likely to receive attention from the teacher.
- Students facing an instructional area have easier access to it; those with their backs to instruction can avoid participation.
- Frequently used materials and equipment (pencil sharpener, texts, etc.) should be stored in easily accessible locations.
Using this case study, a teacher can use the templates included to create their very own personalized classroom arrangement based on need. The templates include individual work arrangements, arrangements best for lectures, and group work geared stations, all of which allocate space for classroom essentials such as the board, teacher’s desk, and even trashcans. Look for these templates and more in their case study (PDF).
With Nova’s Trolley E-Class and NOVALinked, a teacher can use Evertson’s and Poole’s tactics for better classroom arrangements while also minimizing distractions. When the class is in 'lab mode', with the desks arranged correctly, the teacher need only to prompt the NOVALinked system to move the Trolley E-Class supporting the monitors of the computers into their upright position, so that the students can utilize the technology at hand. When the students’ computer work is finished, the teacher need only to move the monitors to their hidden position, and the potential distraction (the computers in this case) is gone. By implementing the various tactics as previously mentioned, a teacher will have more control of the classroom and will also succeed in having attentions of even the most distracted student.