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Observation and Interpretation of Students entering a classroom.   October 13, 2001

Observation and Interpretation of Students entering a classroom.

Observed facts:
   1. Students look into classroom door window.
   2. Walk and then stop into the classroom.
   3. Sit down at empty back of class.
   4. Sit down at far wall.
   5. Most subjects walk up the aisle of stairs closest to where they enter.
   6. Subjects move more quickly to a seat if they arrive late, and spend less time looking around the classroom after they enter. As well, they choose a closer seat to the entrance.

Interpretation of fact:

   1. Students try to avoid the embarrassment of walking into the wrong class. That is, the same classroom with a different attendance. They look through the window to recognise the professor or the students of the class that they have scheduled. They then, open the door and walk into the classroom. If they believe it is the wrong class they are looking at, they will walk away from the window, as not to be in sight of the classroom students, and casually possess waiting gestures, such as looking at their watch and pacing. The students want others to be aware of the reason they just peeped into a classroom window, that they are waiting for their own class to begin.

   2. The student is searching for a number of elements. They stop for a full view of all the classroom seats to look for: a friend in the class; their usual chair from previous weeks; the seating arrangements around that one seat; or other empty seats with few students seated near. Students are social, but will feel discomfort if they are seated close to a stranger when many other clusters of seats are available. They want the room to move and to not feel they have selected seating beside any particular student.

   3. This is to avoid discomfort during the lecture. They will feel a non-verbal interpersonal communication between the lecturer and themselves if they are close enough for eye contact. Also, fewer students are seated there, so there is more chance of an available seat with available seats to each side of that seat for physical space.

   4. A student that sits at the far left or far right against a wall does so for comfort. Personal space is important to some people and the wall guaranties that no one will sit on that side and the wall also provides an area where it is acceptable to lean, as supposed to if there were a student seated directly beside. The student that sits near a wall will have a better classroom and learning experience, as discomfort is less likely to interrupt the thought process.

   5. Most students do not cross from the left entrance to the right entrance of the classroom or vice-versa. Those who do, do so diagonally as they move away from the entrance door. The feel they cannot cross, as it is disrupting to others and they want to draw as little attention to them as possible in the time they are standing. Those who are seated all face the entrance. The students, who enter from the back entrance facing the back of the seated students, are more likely to cross sides of the classroom upon entering. They will not be as noticeable and will not feel the embarrassment of blocking people's views, or even being people-watched.

   6. More attention of the classroom is on the student who enters late, as this is aurally and visually indistinguishable from other classroom activities at that time. The student feels uncomfortable with the amount of attention and visual contact, that he or she seats him or herself as soon as possible. This may result in the student taking an aisle seat. Sitting at the back of the classroom is not in the best interest of the late student. Through convention in schools and even in the media, the back of the classroom is symbol for students who do not want to pay attention in class. Lateness is one conventional attribute of that particular behaviour. The student does not want to associate him or herself with that conventional belief, then, will not sit at the back row after entering a classroom late.


The University classroom has its own social conventions that are created by students interpreting their own and others thoughts by recognising their sense of self and others' sense of self. People in the classroom assume the conduct for behaviour, which is quite strict, though they are not forced nor told how to act. Students have adopted the moral codes for behaviour in the classroom that they have learned from grade school and continued to follow this behaviour as well as assume it is shared moral conduct between all members of the classroom.

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