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Scheduling maths lessons in the morning 'leads to better results'

12/04/2017 Kelly

A new study has offered evidence that scheduling certain lessons at specific times of day can lead to better academic performance.

Researchers from the Royal Holloway University of London examined variations in the timetables used by Bulgarian schools, comparing them to data documenting academic achievement, absence rates and class schedules over a period of more than a decade.

It was shown that when students took mathematics classes early in the day before lunch, they generally performed better than if they had received the same lesson in the afternoon, whereas the reverse was true of history teaching.

This finding aligns with psychological research that indicates that performance in repetitive, automatised or overlearnt tasks such as maths is generally better early in the day, whereas the perpetual-restructuring thought processes needed to make sense of historical narratives function better later in the day.

It also builds on previous studies that have indicated that moving away from the conventional early schools starts could also have educational benefits, due to mounting evidence that sufficient sleep is a necessary prerequisite for performing well in cognitive tasks. Nevertheless, this is one of the first studies to provide detailed information on the changing way in which students perceive learning at different times of the day.

This could be an important discovery, as it highlights one way in which schools could address impediments to effective learning without any associated expenses.

Study leader Velichka Dimitrova said: "Rearranging school schedules in a more optimal way does not require investment of additional resources, and could be a cost-effective intervention leading to improvements in academic performance."

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