On Tuesday, I recorded:
- The relationship between how often someone spoke and where they sat in relation to the professor, and…
- The number of times anyone presented an opinion that countered or contrasted Dr. Thomas’.
My data isn’t conclusive enough to warrant an NPR exposé, but I figure that I can make it to BuzzFeed if I add some stick-it-to-the-man anecdotes and a dramatic title like The Data Shows that the Modern Classroom System is Useless!
Professor Proximity and You
Tuesday was the first day that we took over the multipurpose room, so I’m hesitant to judge my data. I’ll elaborate later.
I recorded not only genuine comments and responses, as Andrew did on the same day, but also offhand remarks and single-word statements: basically, any time I heard anything intelligible. That extra condition dramatically swayed the data for some people who would have been medium-quiet otherwise.
The most talkative students were those who sat at a medium distance from Dr. Thomas’ corner of the room: they spoke an average of about 8-9 times, as opposed to those who sat very close, at an average of 3-4 times. The students who sat farthest away (on the far side and the diagonal) were barely the quietest, at closer to 2 average responses (with the exception of one person, who was as talkative as the mid-rangers).
Only one student never spoke.
Like I said, I’m hesitant to make any judgments, because my data doesn’t reflect that…
- We were sitting in a new room. Some people may have sat down before Dr. Thomas arrived, without knowing where her home base would be. I noticed also that many of the more dominant speakers were the ones who sat closer to Dr. Thomas’ seat on previous days in the conference room.
- Students could be talkative (or not) for any reason. Maybe the more vocal students naturally prefer to sit near the door in conference rooms and near the middle in open rooms. Maybe it’s all just coincidence.
Point without Counterpoint
I also took note of any time someone challenged (or presented a substantially different opinion rather than an expansion) of Dr. Thomas’ explanation of a theme or literary tactic.
I only counted two, and both of them were from me. Maybe my standards for what counts as a challenge are really unfair.