Special Reports

Research Shows That College Classes Should Start In The Afternoon [Video]


College classes are usually scheduled in the early morning towards the afternoon. However, new research found that the optimal time for classes ought to start in the afternoons.

Researchers from the University of Reno in Nevada and Open University in the U.K. found that college students perform better when their classes start late in the day. It was also recommended that lectures in the mornings should be avoided all together.

The study, entitled "Identifying the Best Times for Cognitive Functioning Using New Methods: Matching University Times to Undergraduate Chronotypes," found that later starting times for schools play a crucial role in students' sleep, health and performance. The researchers used two new approaches to determine ranges of start times that optimize cognitive functioning for undergraduates.

For the first method, they developed a survey-based, empirical model (SM). The second approach had a neuroscience-based, theoretical model (NM).

The first approach used students' self-reported chronotype and times when they feel their best. The data was collected from 190 mostly first and second year university students.

The second approach synthesized research in sleep, circadian neuroscience, sleep deprivation's impact on cognition and practical considerations. This is in order to develop a generalized solution to figure out the best learning hours.

Results of the two studies aligned with each other and confirmed other recent research. They found that starting class after 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. are optimal.

Mariah Evans, co-author of the study and an associate professor of sociology at the university, said that the best times of day for learning for college-age students are later than the usual class hours. She suggested running more afternoon and evening classes for freshmen and sophomores as standard curriculum.

Jonathan Kelley, another co-author of the study and also a sociology professor, added that the results of their study raise the question of why universities and colleges start lectures at 9 a.m. or earlier even when this negatively affects the performance of students. The researchers are pushing for the use of asynchronous online learning in addressing the needs of varying chronotypes.

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