Shaking up the classroom arrangement

Where students sit in your classroom can have a big impact on their interactions with each other, and by extension, their learning. Moreover, seating patterns among students can solidify very quickly, making dialogic possiblities all the more difficult. In this video, Tina Grotzer explains why she has students change where they sit at key points in the semester and how these changes affect classroom climate.


Tina Grotzer, Principal Research Scientist in Education

Student Group



Harvard Graduate School of Education


Applying Cognitive Science to Teaching and Learning

Group Size

35 students

  • Consider your intentions for having students move around the room. Do you want to encourage student participation? Have them meet new people? Communicating your reasons to students can help justify your decision-making.
  • Being intentional about your room setup from the beginning of the semester can help foster positive interactions between your students from day one.
  • Rands and Gansemer-Topf argue that strategic classroom arrangements can be used to support active learning in the classroom (2017).
  • Harvey and Kenyon argue in favor of using principles of universal design when considering classroom seating and arrangement (2013).
  1. Not sure how to arrange your classroom effectively? Yale’s Center for Teaching and Learning shares a typology of seating arrangements and discusses their advantages and disadvantages.