Veterans in Classrooms: Post Traumatic Stress, Seating Preferences, and Achievement

August, 2020

This research seeks to build on anecdotal evidence that deployed combat veterans with PTSD symptoms prefer particular seating locations in classrooms. The research took a sample of 253 undergraduate students from a university in the United States. 93 of theses students had served or were currently serving in the armed forces. Of the 93, 48 reported being deployed to a combat zone.  Using four images of different classroom configurations the students picked their preferred seating location. The study found that combat veterans were not more likely to prefer seating at the back of the room, but they were more likely than civilian students to pick a seat in the left corner of the back room. The research concludes by acknowledging the limitations of the study and makes recommendations for further research


Anecdotal knowledge and qualitative research has suggested that previously deployed combat veterans prefer particular seating locations. Students at a university near a large army base chose preferred seats and answered survey items regarding trauma symptoms and academic achievement. There was a relationship between post-traumatic stress symptoms and preferred seating location, but the location was dependent upon if the student had been deployed. Similar relationship differences were found for academic achievement. From these results, it appears that amongst other factors, post-traumatic stress may impact student seating preferences, especially for students who have been exposed to combat in the military.

Full Reference

Clark, D.A. and Walker, K., 2020. Veterans in Classrooms: Post Traumatic Stress, Seating Preferences, and Achievement. Journal of Veterans Studies, 6(1), pp.259–270. DOI:

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