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Early bird gets the ‘A’

by Tatyana Phelps

Many students try to avoid taking early morning classes if they can help it, but after reading the results of two professors’ study, students may want consider taking earlier classes if they want better grades.

Two professors at St. Lawrence University conducted a study that confirmed that the earlier the class time students take, the higher their grades are. The researchers noticed that there was a bit of a drop in student grade point averages for each hour a class starts later.

“For every hour of class that you have later, you get about a .02 difference, so three hours of difference between class start times will result in a .06 difference in grades,” Pamela Thacher, the study’s co-author, said.

The researchers believe that taking earlier classes persuades students to go to sleep earlier, complete work in a timelier manner and avoid drinking alcohol. All of these factors are said to contribute to better grades and a higher GPA.

Although the study shows the drop in GPA when later classes are taken, some professors at VSU feel otherwise.

“Students who take earlier morning classes are usually half asleep, and therefore, they do not participate [or] pay attention to class discussions or lectures, do not listen to the instructions for anything, and they are waiting ‘til the last minute to write their papers,” Kristi Williams, VSU English professor, said. “All the morning classes I’ve ever taught are the worst compared to those taught in the late afternoon to evening.”

Dr. Michael Davey, another English professor, seems to have mixed feelings about the results of the study.
“Basically, you either get students who aren’t organized enough to register early and so (they) register late and have to take courses very early because those are the only ones left,” Davey said. “Or you get students who are very organized and motivated and probably have part-time or even full-time jobs and so (they) need to get their classes out of the way to free up their afternoons.

“It can be a mix of very strong students combined with not-so-strong, and the latter frequently end up dropping.”

On the other hand, Holly Wright, VSU health educator and counselor, feels that it depends on the student — some students are “morning people” and others are not.

“Some people perform better in the morning and some perform better in the later part of the day, but this is very individualized,” Wright said. “I have seen students that are really tired and sleepy in the morning hours.

I can schedule the same student for an afternoon appointment and those same students are much more attentive and seem to have less lethargy in the afternoon.”

Despite what some instructors have noticed in their classes, De’Osha Randolph, public relations major, feels that she performs better in the morning.

“I think early classes are better because I like getting them over with and having the rest of my day to relax, work or do homework,” Randolph said. “I’ve had late classes that were hard to go to because I was tired or just wanted to skip. My brain is normally fried by the end of the day, so it’s always hard for me to focus in late classes.”

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