Reduced Learner Involvement Configurations without Tables

Theater Style Seating (without Tables) (Figure 5-4)


Align rows of chairs, spaced 2 inches apart, approximately 6-8 feet away from the trainer or speaker. Also, stagger rows so that every other row is offset to allow a line of sight between the two chairs directly in front of each person.

Maximum no. of participants

Unlimited, depending on program content, audience makeup, program objectives, room size, shape, availability of sound system, and audiovisual support.


Increases audience size potential. Relatively easy to set up.

Good for information sharing in lecture format (sometimes called information dump). Allows easy viewing of visual aids (e.g., projected visuals or videos).

FIGURE 5-3. Perpendicular style seating (with tables, using overhead projector) Disadvantages

Can be a challenge for someone with a physical disability unless space is planned. Psychologically presents an unfriendly configuration with the trainer/speaker facing the audience. This is especially true if a table or lectern is between the trainer and participants.

Communication is lecture-based with little opportunity for discussion or small group activities.

Potentially lowers learner retention because interaction and sharing is restricted.

Resembles early education settings where students are seated in rows and "talked at."

FIGURE 5-4. Theater style seating (without tables, using overhead projector)

Limits close trainer access to participants. Eliminates eye-to-eye contact by participants. Reduces networking and communication between learners. No writing surfaces for participants.

Some visual aids (e.g., posters, flip charts, VCR/monitor) are ineffective.

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