Motivation is a crucial determinant in learning and performance. It would therefore be advantageous for teachers to use strategies intended to have a positive effect on their students’ motivation. With this in mind, the first thing to do is to identify students with motivation problems, which can be a complex exercise when there are large groups. We wanted to explore whether the place chosen by health sciences students in a classroom or lecture hall showed any correlation with their motivation.
We carried out a multicentre, prospective, observational study of 596 health sciences students in 9 training institutes. The students filled in a self-administered questionnaire to measure the different components of their motivation to take part in a mandatory lesson. These components were correlated with the row in which they sat in a classroom or lecture hall, when they had a free choice of where to sit.
Apart from extrinsic motivation, all the components of motivation for the health sciences students recruited were significantly correlated with the row. The further the students were from the first row, the less they were motivated.
In accordance with teachers’ views, the level of motivation of the students was less the further their position in a classroom or lecture hall was from the first row. A student’s position in the classroom could provide a useful indicator for teachers looking to target their motivational strategies for students with potential motivation problems in the environment, where identifying student motivation levels is impossible.