AN EXPLORATION OF STUDENT PERSPECTIVES OF PRIMARY CLASSROOM DESK CONFIGURATIONS

Janet Currie, Jenny Ly

Abstract


Desk arrangements in primary classrooms can encourage or negatively influence learning. With no previous research reporting on student perspectives, we explored perceptions of two common desk configurations (Year 3, n=32, mean age=8 years). Qualitative data were collected by means of open-ended questionnaire, with an even spread of most preferred desk arrangements (n=16 Clusters, and n=14 Traditional Rows. Clusters were preferred for “increased interaction with friends”, clearer view of the board” and “ease of movement/easier to get out of my seat”. The reasons given for preferring Traditional Rows were “minimisation of peer distractions”, “familiarity”, “clearer view of board”, and “can hear the teacher”. Researcher observations were also undertaken during ten normal handwriting lessons (5 observations with Traditional Row configurations in place, and 5 observations during Cluster configurations). We observed fewer off–task behaviours during lessons held with Cluster desk configurations. Students tended to turn around more during lessons with the Traditional Row desk formation in place during completion of an individual task. Future research is needed to illuminate the impact of desk configurations incorporating a greater range of desk formations, larger sample sizes, varying socio-economic groupings, open–plan versus conventional classroom spaces and comparison of diverse technologies, student groups and lessons.


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