Proposal Title

Learning Comfortably: Flexible Seating and Student Performance in the Elementary Classroom

Location

Elementary Classrooms - Preston 1

Proposal Track

Research Project

Session Format

Presentation

Abstract

Classroom environment has been a topic of study in education for a long time. It is widely recognized that there is a close relationship between classroom organization and student learning, and that students must feel physically safe and psychologically secure to learn (Montello, 1988). A growing body of research in recent years demonstrates that classroom seating has effect on student behavior, academic learning, and health (Merritt, 2014). In a traditional classroom, seating arrangements usually have regular desks and chairs placed in rows and columns, and the teacher chooses where students sit. The aim is to maximize teacher control. But in non-traditional, flexible seating arrangements, there are no regular chairs. Instead, the classroom uses wobble stools, bouncy balls, floor pillows, floor chairs, and other such variety. Students are allowed to choose what to sit on and where to sit. The goal is to let students feel comfortable while learning. Flexible seating is now increasingly embraced by teachers and students in many classrooms, although its purported positive effect on student performance deserves further examination (Pierce, 2017). Using a quasi-experimental design, this action research project investigated the effect of flexible seating on student perceptions, behavior, and academic performance in an elementary school. The study included two regular 2nd grade classes, each with approximately 20 students. During one school semester, one class implemented the flexible seating arrangements and the other class continued as usual the traditional seating arrangements. Through teacher observations, benchmark tests, and student surveys, data on student behavior, academic performance, and perceptions were collected at beginning, during, and ending of the semester for analysis and comparison. Overall, students favored flexible seating and distractive behavior decreased, but no noticeable effect of flexible seating on academic learning was found. This presentation shares findings of the action research project and discusses classroom implications of flexible seating.

Keywords

Classroom arrangement, flexible seating, student performance, elementary school

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Oct 4th, 1:45 PM Oct 4th, 3:30 PM

Learning Comfortably: Flexible Seating and Student Performance in the Elementary Classroom

Elementary Classrooms - Preston 1

Classroom environment has been a topic of study in education for a long time. It is widely recognized that there is a close relationship between classroom organization and student learning, and that students must feel physically safe and psychologically secure to learn (Montello, 1988). A growing body of research in recent years demonstrates that classroom seating has effect on student behavior, academic learning, and health (Merritt, 2014). In a traditional classroom, seating arrangements usually have regular desks and chairs placed in rows and columns, and the teacher chooses where students sit. The aim is to maximize teacher control. But in non-traditional, flexible seating arrangements, there are no regular chairs. Instead, the classroom uses wobble stools, bouncy balls, floor pillows, floor chairs, and other such variety. Students are allowed to choose what to sit on and where to sit. The goal is to let students feel comfortable while learning. Flexible seating is now increasingly embraced by teachers and students in many classrooms, although its purported positive effect on student performance deserves further examination (Pierce, 2017). Using a quasi-experimental design, this action research project investigated the effect of flexible seating on student perceptions, behavior, and academic performance in an elementary school. The study included two regular 2nd grade classes, each with approximately 20 students. During one school semester, one class implemented the flexible seating arrangements and the other class continued as usual the traditional seating arrangements. Through teacher observations, benchmark tests, and student surveys, data on student behavior, academic performance, and perceptions were collected at beginning, during, and ending of the semester for analysis and comparison. Overall, students favored flexible seating and distractive behavior decreased, but no noticeable effect of flexible seating on academic learning was found. This presentation shares findings of the action research project and discusses classroom implications of flexible seating.