Early cognitive and affective experiences in elementary school affect later social competence and adaptation. Scholastic underachievement predicts a continuing cycle of problems such as school failure, poor self-esteem, attendance and disciplinary problems, school dropout, unemployment, and criminal activity (Butler, Marsh, Sheppard, & Sheppard, 1985; Cowen, Peterson, Babigian, Izzo, & Trost, 1973; Farrington, 1986; Loeber & Dishion, 1983). Initially, underachievement was attributed mainly to problems within the individual, but educators gradually began to consider how pupils' behavior was affected by the educational environment (Dowling, 1985; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979). Teaching a group of children is a complex activity that involves numerous behavior management and learning management decisions. It is therefore quite understandable that the consequences of some decisions for individuals are not always recognized by teachers.
Research in the classroom has focused mainly on the identification of a univariate relationship between academic achievement and classroom behaviors (Feldhusen, Thurston, & Benning, 1970; Lambert, 1972; Spivack, Marcus, & Swift, 1986), peer status (Kupersmidt & Coie, 1990), and teachers' interaction styles (Brophy & Good, 1974; Cohen & Cohen, 1987). Although classroom environment is assumed to be a potent determinant of student outcome (Fraser, 1986; Keyser & Barling, 1981; Moos, 1980; Wright & Cowen, 1982), little attention has been given to the interdependence of student, behavior, and environment in the effectiveness of schools. Two important, though often neglected, ecological variables within the classroom environment are seating arrangements and the location of pupils.