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You May be Able to Teach Early Classes, but Students May Not be Awake Yet!

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

FPD 5: Course Delivery Methods and Issues

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1407.1 - 24.1407.11



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Paper Authors


Farshid Marbouti Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Farshid Marbouti is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. His research interest is first-year engineering and specifically using learning analytics to improve first-year engineering students' success. He completed his M.A. in the Educational Technology and Learning Design at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and his B.S. and M.S. in computer engineering in Iran.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program, teaching and guiding the design of one of the required first-year engineering courses that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with authentic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) and a member of the educational team for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN).

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Johannes Strobel Texas A&M

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Dr. Johannes Strobel is Director, Educational Outreach Programs and Associate Professor, Engineering and Education at Texas A&M. After studying philosophy and information science at three universities in Germany, he received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He worked at Concordia University, Montreal and has been the director of the Institute of P-12 Engineering Research and Learning at Purdue University. NSF and several private foundations fund his research. His research and teaching focuses on engineering as an innovation in P-12 education, policy of P-12 engineering, how to support teachers and students' academic achievements through engineering, the measurement and support of the change of 'engineering habits of mind' particularly empathy and the use of cyber-infrastructure to sensitively and resourcefully provide access to and support learning.

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You may be able to teach early classes, but students may not be awake yet!Academic success of first-year students is one of the primary concerns of highereducation institutes. A large number of research studies have investigated a variety offactors that influence first-year academic success such as demographics, high schoolperformance, family status, financial status, health status, social support, and individualbeliefs, abilities, and habits. A factor that may influence students’ success in a course andhas been ignored is the effect of time of class on students’ performance. Anecdotalevidence indicates students in early morning classes have lower performance comparedto other times of the day.Chronotype, an attribute of human beings, reflecting the time of the day their functionsare active or reach a certain level and its relationship to preferred time to wake up, study,etc., is well studied. Individuals vary from extremely early type to extremely late types.Existing research on chronotype shows that the majority of college students fall into latechronotypes. Thus, it would not be surprising to have low functioning students in earlymorning classes. The goal of this paper is to investigate the relationship between classtime and students’ performance in a course to verify this hypothesis.In this study, 1600 students’ course grades in a required two-credit first-year engineeringcourse in spring 2012 were analyzed. The students were enrolled in 15 sections run overfour days. Sections meet every two hours starting from 7:30 am and ending at 5:30 pm.While students are able choose their preferred sections, a number of constraints play arole in this selection (e.g., conflicts with other courses, preferred sections fill up veryquickly). The average of students’ final grades in each section was calculated as anindicator of students’ performance in the course. Students’ average grades in each sectionwere tested (using ANOVA and t-test) to identify the differences between sectionperformances among the 15 different sections.Results indicate that most of the 7:30 am sections have a significantly lower averagegrade compared to later sections. In addition, fewer students enrolled in the 7:30 amsections and more students dropped out of the course from these sections. Theperformance in the last class section on Friday afternoon (ending at 5:30 pm) showedsimilarly low student performance. This result illustrates an academic problem in students’performance in early morning and late Friday sections. Students in one of the earlymorning sections performed significantly better than the other ones, which might bepartially attributed to the instructor, who is known for a very engaging teaching style.While rescheduling the classes to eliminate early morning sections may not be possible,institutes can use strategies to reduce this affect, which will be discussed in the full paper.

Marbouti, F., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Strobel, J. (2014, June), You May be Able to Teach Early Classes, but Students May Not be Awake Yet! Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22797

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