Classroom Seating Considerations Study

During the fall 2011/spring 2012 semesters, Eugene J. Harvey, Assessment & Reference Librarian and Melaine Kenyon, Director of Instructional Technology examined classroom seating styles or configurations across the campus.  Students and faculty were surveyed regarding their perceptions of classroom furniture as it impacts comfort, learning engagement, and interactivity.


Study Summary

The forthcoming renovation of a museum gallery to an academic space with eight technology enhanced classrooms led to the idea of examining classroom learning environments, particularly seating styles and configurations. During initial consultations concerning the renovations, it was noted that these new spaces were air-conditioned, filled with natural light, and would be equipped with the latest educational technologies. Though the plan was to purchase traditional tablet arm chairs for these classrooms, the architects were persuaded to try something new.  Immediately, seating became a crucial component of this renovation project with the potential to transform each space into something other than the typical learning environment.

The study looked at new and unique types of classroom seating styles that would adhere to the Principles of Universal Design from the Center for Universal Design (CUD) at North Carolina State University, and Nair and Fielding’s eight truths about classroom comfort. To facilitate decision making, the Classroom Seating Rating Scale was developed psychometrically and used to solicit faculty and student input on types of classroom furniture as it relates to comfort, learning engagement, and interactivity.

Five total styles were selected for comparison: a modern mobile chair; trapezoid tables with chairs on casters; rectangle tables with standard chairs; tablet arm chairs; and fixed tiered seating with tablet arms.  The modern mobile chair was purchased for one classroom to test stakeholder suggestions, specifications, and other criteria. As compared to other traditional seating styles, the modern mobile chair in particular seemed to possess many design characteristics valued by 21st century learners and instructors.  For each seating style, a total of nine classrooms with similar characteristics were selected. The total number of courses taught in those rooms was determined, and a random sample was preselected for survey outreach.  To operationalize conceptual measurement of seating satisfaction, a Likert-style Classroom Seating Rating Scale was developed, based on principles of modern seating design and universal design and access.

The Classroom Seating Rating Scale was developed to assess types of classroom seating on campus with the goal of using data to drive future furniture purchases. In general, the CSRS measures perceptions of and satisfaction with classroom seating.


Kenyon, M.C., & Harvey, E. J. (2013).  Considering classroom seating for students and faculty in the 21st century.  EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, Seeking Evidence of Impact (SEI) Case Study.  Retrieved from:


Harvey, E. J., & Kenyon, M. C. (2013).  Classroom seating considerations for 21st century students and faculty.  Journal of Learning Spaces, 2(1). Retrieved from:


  Classroom Seating Rating Scale for Faculty  |  Classroom Seating Rating Scale for Students



Modern Mobile ChairClassroom with modern mobile chairsTablet Arm ChairClassroom with tablet arm chairsFixed Tiered Seating with Tablet ArmClassroom with fixed tiered seating and tablet armRectangular table with standard chairsClassroom with rectangular tables and standard chairsTrapezoid tables and chairs on castersClassroom with trapezoid tables and chairs on casters<>