Allowing students to begin classes an hour later in the morning leads to improved exam results and better participation during lessons, according to a study carried out by the PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hasselt.
The experiment was carried out among students of journalism. Their first classes were shifted from 08.30 to 09.30.
The difference was immediately noticed from the results of mid-term exams in January. Students who had followed a general humanities education in secondary school showed little change. But students who had followed technical or art education in school had results 5% better than average, said Veerle Schuyten, head of the media and tourism department.
The effects were also seen in the classroom.
“The students are more rested, and so they take a more active part in lessons, and admit themselves that they are better able to work on their assignments,” she said.
Some students have since taken to going to bed an hour later, but that does not seem to change the results.
“According to the research, it appears that it makes no difference if you go to bed later or not. It is mainly that extra hour in the morning that makes you more fit.”
The college is aware that the experiment has only take account of one term, but other research backs up the findings.
“At some British and American schools they’ve been doing this for years, and over there it really does pay off,” Schuyten said. “Although of course exam results depend on a whole lot of other factors than just whether you’ve slept enough.” PXL will also extend the experiment in years to come.
“We will certainly be continuing with the journalism students, because we’ve seen it’s worth the effort. Whether we apply it to other classes has yet to be decided.”