¹Sport and Exercise Studies
Randolph College
Lynchburg, Virginia

²Curriculum and Instruction Department
Tarleton State University
Stephenville, Texas

³Counseling Department
Tarleton State University
Stephenville, Texas

Exploring the Physical and Kinesthetic Benefits of Flexible Seating in the Higher Education Classroom

The concept of ‘flexible seating’ has emerged as a possibility to meeting the goals of an active learning classroom. Recent scholarship has suggested that numerous student learning predictors are enhanced when interacting with flexible seating. This study aims to fill a gap in the literature by investigating the effects of flexible seating from a physical perspective in the higher education setting. N=75 participants engaged in mixed-method data collection and analysis strategies that included observations and field notes, a validated online survey, and open-ended questions prompts at participants. A thematic review and descriptive analysis revealed almost 80% of the respondents indicated that the flexible seating had a positive effect on their experience in the course related to the following themes: (a) Movement Opportunity; (b) Back Pain & Comfort; (c) Anxiety & Restlessness; and (d) Focus & Engagement. This research provides evidence that physically comfortable classrooms promote a sense of well-being, keep minds focused, and limit distractions, and that physically comfortable classrooms with increased movement opportunities for students make possible mental and emotional health benefits, as well. Results indicate the need for campuses to (re)consider the purposes and roles of seating styles within the 21st century classrooms, with seating selection based on principles of universal design.

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