Seating arrangement trial in a Chinese high school

Last registered on December 03, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Seating arrangement trial in a Chinese high school
Initial registration date
November 30, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 03, 2021, 6:39 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

University of International Business and Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Fudan University
PI Affiliation
Peking University
PI Affiliation
Peking University

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The objective of our experiment is to understand how the seating arrangement of a given study group affects learning outcomes. In the high school of our experiment, students in grade ten were divided into study groups. Most of the groups contained six students. To assign students to groups, the usual practice is for the class teachers to divide their students into six tiers of roughly equal numbers, from high initial test scores to low initial test scores, and then pick one student from each tier to form a group. Thus, by design, the different groups have similar overall academic abilities. We randomly selected about half of the groups to be treated groups. In the treated groups, the two students with the highest scores in the baseline exam were assigned to the middle seat of each row. In the remaining groups, seats were arranged mainly according to the preferences of the students.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Feng, Shilan et al. 2021. "Seating arrangement trial in a Chinese high school." AEA RCT Registry. December 03.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Spatial structure of peer groups; exam scores of investigated students.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We explained our plans to the teachers in September 2017. The group assignment took place in early October after a baseline exam was conducted to assess the academic abilities of the students. Before the baseline exam, students sat in columns according to their heights. After the groups were formed, we randomly selected about half of the groups to be treated groups. The remaining groups were used as reference groups. After announcing group assignments and before arranging seats, the class teacher asked students to submit their seating preferences. The teacher informed the students that their preferences would be considered (but not necessarily implemented) when arranging group seating. They were also informed that the teacher would keep their submitted preferences private. The class teacher then arranged the seats in each group block mainly according to the preferences of the students, as was commonly done in previous years. In the treated groups, however, the two students with the highest scores on the baseline exam were assigned to the middle seat of each row. We can surmise that the students were unlikely to notice this manipulation of the final seating arrangement. Besides, in late October, we conducted a survey to collect information about the individual and family characteristics of the students and to ask their views about group learning.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by hand shuffling.
Randomization Unit
Study groups
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
12 classes in one school.
Sample size: planned number of observations
481 high school students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
36 study groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
0.3 standard deviation

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials