I often have ideas for research questions that would be interesting but very impractical. My most recent question was how do seating arrangements affect student grades?
I would allow my students to pick their seat but they would have to stay in the same seat throughout the year. At the end of the year, I would record each student’s final grade in a spreadsheet along with his or her seat choice. After years of data, I could analyze how grades are correlated with seat choice!
Sadly, this idea is at least a few years away. Therefore, in the meantime, I created some fake data to display how this concept could, in theory, play out. Below is a heat map of the grades of a fictitious class. The cells are greener if the mark is higher and redder if the mark is lower:
My hope would be that out of the randomness, some type of pattern would emerge. Maybe the stereotype is true and the strong students sit at the front while the weak students sit at the back. If I condensed the years of data into a graphic, it might look something like this:
At first, the data seems random, but as the years progress you can clearly see that the higher grades are clustered near the front and the lower grades at the back. Maybe this is true, maybe it’s not, maybe one day I’ll know for sure. Until then.