Volume 16, Number 8
November 10, 2009

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This Week

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alev değimWhy do we students just love sitting in the back row?

Simple: It is a very typical human reaction. Lecturers are more likely to invite people sitting closest to them to participate in class. If we want to avoid direct participation, we sit somewhere where we can blend in with others so that we aren't noticed. We might also want the "freedom to get bored" as Scott Berkum so fittingly pointed out in his blog. If we are not so out in the open we won't have to pretend to be interested in the subject and find ways to entertain ourselves without distracting others, and especially the person speaking.

Similarly, why do some students sit in the front row?

Because they want to concentrate on the lecture without any distractions. They are more interested (or at least they pretend to be interested) in the subject. Also, perhaps they have myopia or are latecomers who were unable to snag seats at the back.

sitThis is pretty much how it goes, right? It is possible to get hints about someone's personality judging from where he/she sits in a lecture just like how a person's handwriting or the color he/she likes can be very expressive.

Well, not so much...

What I have observed lately is that we can no longer justify where we sit in this way. Moving towards the back row has become an automatic action, a habit without a reason. Therefore, it is not a question of preference anymore. Even though students have no intention of remaining passive to the lecture, they still move to the back rows.

And everyone does it! Which brings us to the core of the trend: herd behavior. We, students, usually move in groups. We enter and exit classes with our group of friends and usually the group follows one person around and sits where that person chooses because everyone's attention is somewhere else. This is one way herd behavior can be observed. If the person enters the class alone and sees that everyone is seated somewhere towards the back, he/she probably won't go to the front to sit alone.

Thus, although at the beginning our choice to remain passive drove us towards the back seats, after a point it starts working the other way, I think. We are rendered more passive because we are so afraid of the front row.

So tell me, where do you sit? And why? I would be happy to hear how you view your sitting preferences. I'll start... I sit in the far end of the front row. It's up to you to tell me what that says about my personality.

By Gönenç İnal (TRIN/IV)

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