Early classes give better grades

2011-09-29 21:02

New York - Given the chance most university students would opt to schedule late classes so they can sleep longer but new research shows pupils who take early classes are more likely to get higher grades.

Psychologist at St Lawrence University in Canton, New York found that students in later classes get more sleep but they are also more likely to abuse alcohol than those taking morning classes.

"The real piece that we found is that those who are up later are drinking more and discovering their inner demons," said Pamela Thacher, a psychology professor and co-author of the study.

"It is not that larks are superior, or that owls are different," she added. "Those who don't drink are not affected and more sleep doesn't make a difference."

Thacher and her colleague Serge Onyper studied the rising habits of 253 college students. The students completed cognitive tasks, a one-week retrospective sleep diary and questionnaires about sleep, class schedules, alcohol consumption and mood.

They found the later class times predicted slightly lower grade point averages and more drinking.

Onyper speculates that although students with late classes get more sleep, drinking more alcohol, which is known to disrupt sleep, may reduce its benefits.

"Prior to this study, I advocated having classes start later in the morning, so that students could get more sleep," said Thacher, who presented the findings at a sleep conference.

"But now, I would say that 08:00 or 08:30 classes are probably, for some students, going to be a much better choice."

  • Bontage - 2011-09-29 21:30

    As a student who loves his late mornings, and a statistics fan, I feel I should point out a few things. Firstly, 253 isn't exactly a huge sample. Here at UCT there's 22 000 of us. That's juuuusssst over 1%. Also, just because two things are linked, that doesn't make one the cause. Sure, late risers may get worse marks, but they may also be students who are less keen and diligent in their work, and therefore less motivated to attend early classes. Be careful of "journalism" statistics! Think it through for yourselves as well!

      Logoll - 2011-09-29 22:18

      And add to this a study that was done in the UK that found pushing back class and exam times to mid morning actually improved the students grades by an average of 13%. Also I don't feel that this study is an accurate representation of true university study. Yes class is important but in real university environments it is often the studying time you put in after class and amount of work you put into your papers that determine your grade, not a cognitive test during class.

      Roman Moroni - 2011-09-30 02:46

      Ever heard of Research Protocols that need to be written in advance of any study activities commencing and sample size estimations to establish the study population that will give you enough power to answer your questions? Seems you are a supporter of the "start classes later" lobby group?

  • pagel - 2011-09-29 21:45

    And they need a study to show this? Students who do attend early classes take their studies seriously, are more committed and study harder - obviously they will do better.

      fantasticjac - 2011-09-30 08:14

      That is an awful generalisation.

  • JWock - 2011-09-29 22:27

    They are assuming that a relationship between variables equals causality.

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