Swivel Seating in Large Lecture Theaters and Its Impact on Student Discussions and Learning
Well-designed university buildings and physical environments have a documented positive impact on student participation, engagement, and feelings of support and belonging. These factors are known to improve learning; however, it is hard to document the direct impact architecture has on student learning outcomes. Information on how specific design choices impact student learning would be tremendously beneficial to the development of new projects, and outcome data from prior remodeling projects could be used to inform the myriad choices architects and universities must make for new designs. This paper compares two different designs of remodeled, large lecture-theater designs: one with traditional tiered rows and one with swivel seating to facilitate face-to-face discussions during lectures and the impact these designs had on student learning. Both high- and low-performing students appear to have benefited from the swivel-seat discussions by the end of the semester, with potentially a larger benefit for stronger students.
This article is published as Ogilvie, Craig A. "Swivel seating in large lecture theaters and its impact on student discussions and learning." Journal of College Science Teaching 37, no. 3 (2008): 50. Posted with permission.