What difference does a seating arrangement make? Much.
Because I was going to spend most of today lecturing and showing short films, I did not have the students rearrange the tables so that they were sitting in small groups. Instead, they remained in the traditional classroom style. Ordinarily, I have active discussions in this class but today, the discussions were practically non-existent
It is possible that today was one of those days when folk were feeling a bit off. But I don’t think that was the case. Instead, I believe that the lecture style seating arrangement did what it is supposed to do—promote the lecture and diminish conversation; even class discussion.
The lecture is not really set up to allow individuals to discuss the material. At most, the only conversation desired is that involving an individual asking the professor a question.
Although I thought it would not make a difference if students sat in rows today, I ended up killing the conversation by my decision. As we were leaving class, I joked with students that I was never going to let them sit in rows again. We all laughed. But it was no joke.