The Mystery Game of Musical Chairs
“If I Sit in the Front Row, Will I Get a Better Grade?”
It’s Saturday night and within minutes you’re approached by someone sitting front and center at the bar. They strike up a conversation and ask you to dance. You decline – they seem too eager. While trying to extricate yourself from the conversation, you spot a mysterious stranger through a sea of heads at the other end of the bar. They catch your eye but make no attempt to move forward. Your curiosity is piqued.
Okay – that’s not how it works in a classroom. Here’s what might be in the teacher’s air bubble. Choosing to sit as far as possible from the teacher may send a signal that you want to be left alone. Of course, classrooms have just so many seats so someone has to sit in the last row. The question is how many seats were available when you walked in, bypassed the teacher and then plunked down with your back against the chipped cinderblock wall.
Students in the front row do tend to be more eager, like the chatty person from the bar. Their seating choice says – I want to be part of the conversation. It also says – I’m smarter and I’m getting an A in this class. Can’t a teacher spot this strategy? There’s no mystery there, but the teacher has 75 minutes to kill and it’s a lot easier when people participate. Suddenly, those front row students look pretty good.
Does sitting in the back row impact your grade? If participation is part of your grade and your location prevents you from offering your opinion, then the answer may be yes. Try moving up a few rows to see what happens. There’s no additional expense and the chairs are exactly the same. If your grade is simply an average of your test scores and you’re not missing anything crucial from your Siberian outpost, then so be it.
One thing to consider – sometimes hanging out with the eager A students rubs off on you. It’s not a permanent condition and your friends don’t have to know, but it may get you through a course.
Here’s a question – From a student’s perspective, is there an equivalent of ‘sitting in the front row’ in an on-line class?