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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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)1436-1450
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number5
Early online date7 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

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


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