The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Stress and Early Classes Impede Learning

Some college students who score poorly on exams may be able to lay the blame on their brains, not their study habits.

Two recent studies revealed some students’ brain activities may be hindering their ability to comprehend and remember course content.

One study, published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, determined that most people in their late teens and early 20s are biologically wired to be more active at night and consequently sluggish in the morning. College students in the traditional age bracket, according to a report on the study by National Public Radio, may have trouble remaining alert in classes before 10 a.m.

As a result, their learning suffers. These students tend to receive lower scores on morning tests than those later in the day. “While there is no ideal start time for everyone, up to 83% of students could be at their best performance if colleges allowed them to choose their own ideal starting time for a regular six-hour day,” the report said.

Another study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, showed a strong relationship between stress and memory. Students who reported feeling highly stressed during the course often had difficulty recalling material they had studied. The most intriguing finding, however, was that students with the most confidence in their academic abilities typically encountered a greater level and incidence of forgetfulness and their test scores dropped a full grade.

These students also reported they avoided thinking about the course when not in class. Researchers concluded that students who felt stressed by the class may have subconsciously forgotten the material as a means of protecting their self-image as academically proficient.

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