Step 5: Design the classroom layout

Many researchers have found that there can be a direct link between student learning and desk placement, provided lighting, and the proximity of the students to the teacher (see MIT’s Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) project and NCSU’s Scale-Up project). Vertical classroom layout (rows, for example) is the usual design found with more traditional teaching and learning models where individual tasks in a quiet atmosphere was the norm (Betoret & Artiga, 2004, Gremmen, van den Berg, Segers & Cillessen, 2016, Fernandes, 2011). When the task is more communal (as in more modern learning models), small group seating is often preferred. Communication is increased when students sit in semicircles, and for student-centered activities small group arrangements can support better interaction between teacher and individual students (Fernandez, 2011).

When designing your classroom for optimal learning, each student will need to be consider within the environment. With technology, there may be glare problems for students close to windows or with the overhead lighting. Consider hearing and sight lines for those with differences. Classroom setup is part class management and part learning optimization. Parents and past teachers can be valuable resources to help you support each student in the class setting. Ask parents and teachers for details about what has and hasn’t worked in the classroom for their child and student.

Teachers can plan what their classrooms will look like each year but, in most cases each time a new activity is created a change in furniture placement should be part of the design. The following links can help you design a classroom that promotes learning:


Fernando Doménech Betoret & Amparo Gómez Artiga (2004) Trainee teachers’ conceptions of teaching and learning, classroom layout and exam design, Educational Studies, 30:4, 355-372. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.

Gremmen, M.C., van den Berg, Y.H.M., Segers, E. et al. Soc Psychol Educ (2016) 19: 749. Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.

Fernandes, Amanda Careena, et al. “Does where a student sits really matter?–the impact of seating locations on student classroom learning.” International Journal of Applied Educational Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 2011, p. 66+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 9 Aug. 2018.

Step 6: Think of ergonomics