Smart Seating Charts: The Key to Better Student Performance?

Teachers have long known that not every student is perfectly suited to traditional classroom setups, but with budgets tight, doling out individual attention is not always a reality. What if there was a way to make the traditional classroom setting work better for everyone though?

Research has found that classroom seating arrangements have a great impact on student performance and behavior.  A study done by Angela Hammang at Montana State University found that when carefully crafted seating charts were in effect, teachers were twice as successful reaching students and that the attainment of lower ability students was doubled. In her research, Hammang experimented by moving students around in different seating charts to help them find their optimal place, in this case it was a biology classroom, based on learning styles and personalities. She also looked at groupings by gender and past grade performances. In all cases, the students performed at a higher level when the teacher assigned seating in a calculated manner. Students on the underachieving end of the spectrum showed the most improvement when classroom seating was developed with thought, and not simply assigned based on the alphabet or another random manner.

It’s clear that finding the right classroom seating assignment benefits students and educators, but how can it be accomplished without asking too much of the teacher’s time? How can the guesswork be removed?

A Simple Solution to Classroom Seating

Duncan Wilson has 16 years’ experience as a teacher who was looking for a way to streamline classroom practices to make the most of the time he spent with his students. He met software engineer Gintautas Sasnauskas a few years ago, and together they formed Edukey Education Ltd in 2011 to put the technology behind some of Wilson’s ideas. His first project? Software that guides educators through the process of assigning classroom seating based on reasonable conclusions about the students. ClassCharts is available to all teachers for free and allows for collaboration between classrooms and among teachers. It gives students the best chance at success, no matter what classroom they are in. Since the software became available in 2013, more than 70,000 teachers have signed up and more than 2.5 million students are in the system.

The software was developed based on the following truths that Wilson experienced in front of the blackboard:

  • Positive student behavior is necessary for an optimal classroom experience for the children in it.
  • Students’ personalities and how they interact with each other impacts their learning potential. Grouping students with complementary personalities leads to higher levels of achievement.
  • Tracking student behavior, and sharing that information with other educators and administrators, allows for better resources and intervention.
  • Teachers who are familiar with the names of all their students improve the self-esteem of those children and can better assign praise when it is due.

Aside from the “warm and fuzzy” feelings between teachers and students, and students and their peers, that intuitive seating charts provide, there are some practical implications too. There is more data than ever available on students and provided to educators – so much so that it can all be overwhelming and useless without the right implementation.

ClassCharts uses data rich information to present teachers with the key data that they need to make informed seating decisions and to tackle behavior issues. When integrated between classrooms, teachers can see how the behavior of their students ranks other places and together educators can create plans to guide students toward higher achievement.  Schools that upgrade from the free version to the whole-school option give administrators and other school leaders the opportunity to see which students may need the help of extra learning resources. There are even options for informing parents of behavior issues, negative or positive, to keep them abreast to how their children are performing at school.

A New-Fashioned Approach

Most teachers have probably implemented seating charts at one point or another, and perhaps have put some of the ClassCharts concepts into play. It quickly becomes clear to a teacher when two particular students will not be productive near each other or when a certain student would fare better at the front of the classroom. The technology behind ClassCharts goes far beyond the seating basics though, and even calculates factors like students who receive free lunch, or have special education needs. The priorities of an individual school are also taken into consideration when ClassCharts creates a seating chart. All of the variables that a teacher would normally have to weigh are simply input and processed. Simple. And effective.

It’s interesting how something that seems as simple as a seating chart has such complicated implications for student achievement. With smart seating chart implementation, though, students can perform at a higher level and teachers can enjoy the good behavior that accompanies it.

Do you feel like seating charts positively or negatively impact your classrooms?

Take time to look at I promise that you will not be disappointed.

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6 Replies to “Smart Seating Charts: The Key to Better Student Performance?”

  1. The first thought I had when I read this article is “Big Brother is on the move!” Seriously, why have technology assign seats to students? As a former teacher, I tended to allow students to sit where they wanted for the first week and then made them choose a seat by the end of the first week. They then had an assigned seat for the semester. Most of the time, the kids did a good job finding a seat that suited their personality and learning style. Only when kids sat by their friends and were disruptive did I have to move a student and that rarely happened! Of course, I taught high school students. So this may very well be a good way to assign seats to younger students. . . I dont know. I just think it goes a bit too overboard.

  2. Looks like just another way to get teachers and school districts to spend money so that the more important things like art education, music and special education can have their budgets cut. Again, it’s all about the money!

    1. Have you actually taken a look at the web site in the article? If so, you would see that this program is FREE!

      It seems to be an innovative way for teachers to help students find the best place in the classroom they can learn. It could also help with student behavior as teacher could use the software to collaborate with each other. Looks like a win-win to me!

  3. This program appears to be a logical, well-thought-out way to help students succeed. The more assistance K-12 teachers have to make intelligent choices in their teaching, the better all of education is.

    1. Did we read the same article? I’m not sure I can completely agree because it is still based on the teachers’ perception of the students and what if they are wrong? I love technology, but I’m not sure about this one.

  4. This concerns me a bit because it can really take the human element out of the equation. It did say that it is based on the teacher’s perception and that is where I take issue. There are so many students that are able to fly under the radar and not learn because the teachers didn’t know what they really needed. I’m not sure a ‘smart’ seating chart is going to fix anything. It would be interesting to hear from an educator who has actually used the software.

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