UBC SCI Team | Where You Sit Matters, with Dr. Jay Wickenden

ANDY: Hey there, it’s SCI Team. Welcome to the pilot video project of
UBC SCI Team. As we usually come to you as the professional
and personal development events on campus, this time we come to you a little bit differently. A lot of students miss out on our events
due to time conflicts, or simply because they commute to campus. We want to connect with you online to
worthwhile moments and intriguing talks that any UBC Science student should have access to. For our pilot video, I’m super excited to
bring to you Dr. Jay Wickenden, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry. Now he is well known among students
for his approach to the course that many of you will take: CHEM 233. Today, he will not be talking about reaction mechanisms, but instead will discuss strategies to succeed
in learning in a large lecture hall. Get this: where you sit
in the lecture hall matters. Researchers have investigated this: there is actually a connection between your seat in the lecture hall and your final grade
in the course! Without further ado, take it away Doctor Wickenden. JAY: Right, hello everybody, my name is
Doctor Jay Wickenden. I am a faculty member in the Department of
Chemistry, and I’m going to talk to you today about one of the things you will encounter
usually in as a science student here at UBC which are very large classrooms and the best
way that you can learn within those classrooms. Now where you sit in a
lecture theatre actually matters: A study that was done by both Perkins and Wieman (2005)
investigated where students were sitting and how that affected their grade overall in the course. Now students were broken up into groups of relatively the same GPA, and ordered and instructed to sit in various locations within a room. So here’s a pretty accurate representation
of Hebb theater (HEBB 100) where a lot of common science courses are taught to undergraduates. Now what this study investigated was that
people that were sitting in the back of the room so for example in this area here, were 6 times more likely to
receive an F than those individuals who were sat at the front of the room down here. In addition to that, they found that students
that were sat at the back of the room for the initial part of the course
were more than likely to not show up compared to people
that were sat at the front of the room. The overall story here is that the further away
a student was sitting from the professor at the front of the room, the less likely they were to receive an A
for that particular course. Now one of the things you’re going to encounter
in large lecture theatres are individuals who are going to
distract you from trying to learn. For example, if I was to start telling you
about a bimolecular substitution mechanism where an O- or an alkoxide starts a displacement
reaction, and doesn’t form an ether– now in that last scene,
what was I talking about? Honestly try and think about it… … but what color was Andy’s shirt? That’s how easy it is to be distracted
within a large lecture. So being distracted in a large lecture theatre
is a common thing, and again we have our pretty accurate representation of
Hebb theater or HEBB 100 where many of you will take science courses in your
first couple of years here at UBC. Now, another study that was done by both
Sana and Weston (2004) investigated what happened when students had access to
electronic equipment and could multitask. Now multitasking can be a variety of different things,
but you can view that as “I gotta check Facebook and my email while I’m also listening to
Dr. Wickenden at the front of room ramble on about organic chemistry.” Now what that study found was that students that were messing about and multitasking throughout
a lecture were more likely to receive a lower grade compared to those who did not have access to
that same electronic equipment. So what we’re saying here in
this pretty accurate representation of Hebb is we will pick this student here… And this student has access to a laptop
and they’re multitasking: their grade was found to be approximately 11% lower than those who did not have access to
a laptop or the ability to multitask. Now the interesting thing that came out of
this study involved the students who were within viewing plane
of this individual who was multitasking, so in this particular instance
we’re talking about these students… …right here. They can all view what the multitasker is doing.
on their magical laptop within the lecture theatre Now I want you to think what you suspect the
effect on their grade was. None of these people had access to laptops or anything, they’re just seeing what this individual’s doing. Now a common answer to that I get when I ask this question is well, you know their grade’ll be about 5.5% lower,
which is about half the depression here, or it’s the same- — is that would you answered? About 11% lower? To be truth be told, the average depression
in grade for these individuals here was 17% lower than those who did not have— compared to those who didn’t have any viewing plane of that whatsoever. The take home message here is that if
you’re sitting within a region of area where you can see somebody messing with a laptop,
you’re more than likely to receive a lower grade than if you sit anywhere else in the room. Now I know many of you may say I’m not gonna
bring a laptop to lecture— that’s fine but I want you to think about cell phones are
now essentially computer devices and you can access Facebook and
everything else that you ever wanted to on there. So take note of that and pay attention
when you’re in our lectures. So if I was gonna give you some advice to the
new incoming students at the University of British Columbia, I would tell you that when
you arrive to your first lecture in a larger theatre, choose where you sit carefully. Think about it ahead of time and pick a spot
where you can come and engage with the material that’s being talked to you at that time. Learning is not a spectator sport – you can’t
just sit back and by osmosis it’s gonna come in— —you need to engage with the person at
the front of the room and more importantly, when you’re in these large lecture theatres, be mindful of those around you, be nice to each other. ANDY: Wow, and I thought the best seats in the lecture
hall was always the ones for the easiest escape 😉 Thanks Doctor Wickenden. If you have any suggestions for speakers or content, send us an email at [email protected] If you enjoyed this video,
give us a share or a like so we know to bring to you more content in the future.

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