Academic discipline as a moderating variable between seating location and academic performance: implications for teaching

Ka Long Chan, Chi Wai David Chin, Man Sing Wong, Roy Kam, Chan Shing Bun Benedict, Liu Chun Ho, Wong Kwan Kit Frankie, Suen K.P. Lorna, Yang Lin, Lam Ching Simon, Wai Lok Lai, Xiaolin Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Previous research on university students’ academic performance
indicates that students’ seating locations can be an indicator of
their academic performance. However, previous research on the
relationship between university students’ seating locations and
their academic performance is mixed, and there is a lack of
research about whether students’ academic discipline moderates
this relationship. This study addresses this gap in the literature
through a study of 182 university students in Hong Kong. Biglan
categorization was used to classify disciplines into soft (a low
degree of consensus) and hard fields (a high degree of
consensus). The results revealed that students from soft fields
who sat at the front of a class performed better than their
counterparts who sat at the back, while the performance of
students from hard fields was not significantly influenced by their
seating location. This article’s findings suggest that classroom
seating arrangements should be tailored to academic disciplines
to maximize their efficacy and that universities should redesign
classroom layouts to extend the experience of sitting at the front
of a class to all students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021


  • Seating location
  • academic performance
  • academic disciplines
  • Biglan categorization
  • iBeacon/BLE technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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