Dakota State University Kinesthetic Classrooms, Dr. Scott Klungseth leads initiative to optimize learning in classrooms across the US


Dakota State University Kinesthetic Classrooms, Dr. Scott Klungseth leads initiative to optimize learning in classrooms across the US

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Original article posted here (Dakota News Now)

By Hannah Ekwall

PublishedMar. 2024 at 6:16 PM EDT

A new way of learning is taking place at a South Dakota university, with the goal of keeping students engaged. Students aren’t sitting — they’re pedaling, standing and even balancing while learning. The kinesthetic classroom at Dakota State University provides a variety of flexible seating options where students can choose to move around if they find themselves getting distracted during class.

Doctor Scott Klungseth explained how learning in a chair is a thing of the past. “It’s like the work education setting there is. You’re sitting there, you’re trapped in this confined space, and you don’t get to move — why would you be engaged?” said Klungseth.

After 20 years of research, Doctor Scott Klungseth — an associate professor of education and exercise science at DSU — was finally able to implement flexible seating and movement into his classroom this past January. Since the, he’s seen a positive response from students.

“We’ve had 52 students, I believe, take the post survey. About 78 percent have said that it’s helped them focus throughout the class, and about 76 percent feel it’s helped them with their academic success,” said Klungseth.

The purpose of the flexible seats is to give students the chance to stay engaged in their tasks. Dr. Klungseth explained that it eliminates the usual distractions seen in a classroom like students falling asleep. Think of it like a fidget toy for your entire body.

Students like Rebecca Hazlett praised what the way of learning has done for her. “As we use them every single day, I’ve noticed that I’m never getting sleepy. I’m never getting distracted in class, really. I think it’s engaged me more, so that’s been really nice,” said Hazlett.

The biggest question surrounding these flexible seats is whether they cause a distraction in the classroom, but through his research and years of experience in classrooms — from elementary to college — Klungseth said all signs show that this approach will only help students rather than hurt them. “It actually reduces negative behaviors because you can move, and then you get refocused, versus being stuck there and your behavior gets worse,” said Klungseth.

Doctor Klungseth said the vision came to life through donations, grants and support from DSU. Currently, only education and exercise science classes take place in the classroom, but multiple professors from different departments have inquired about using the space to see the success for themselves.