A child's popularity is related to where the teacher seats them in the classroom

Posted on December 20, 2014

Yvonne van den Berg and Antonius Cillessen studied 34 classrooms at 27 elementary schools in The Netherlands. The 336 participating pupils had an average age of 11, and 47 per cent of them were boys. In all classrooms, it was the school policy that the teachers dictated who sat where; seating arrangements were in groups or rows, or a mixture. Every pupil was asked to say how much they liked each of their classmates, and to rate their classmates' popularity. They gave these ratings twice: four to six weeks into the first semester (August/September time), and then again at the beginning of the school's second semester during the following Spring.

A key finding was that children who were seated in the first semester near the boundaries of their classroom tended to be less liked by their peers at that time, and also six months later, as compared with children sat nearer the centre of the class. Another related result was that children tended to rate those located nearer to them as more likeable and more popular (this helps explain the first result - children sat centrally tend to have more classmates closer to them). Meanwhile, children who were only (re)positioned at the boundaries of the class in the second semester did not receive lower likeability ratings at that time, presumably because their reputation had already been established by then.

Why should seating position have these associations with children's perceptions of their peers?

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Category(s):Child Development

Source material from British Psychological Society


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