Early morning classes give students, faculty flexibility in their schedule

Kathleen Pizzo

Sociology major Diana Macedonio, 22, regrets signing up for her 7:30 a.m. sociology class.

“It’s difficult for me to wake up,” Macedonio said. “I’m less attentive than in my after lunch classes, because it’s hard for me to pay attention when I’m tired. My performance could be a lot better.”

The 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. classes may be unpopular with students because of their inability to focus, but several Sacramento State faculty said the performance level of students in early classes is equal to later classes, both in attendance and test grades.

There are at least some early classes present in each department. Sheree Meyer, associate dean of undergraduate studies, said early classes exist not because of high demand from students, but because of convenience.

“When I’m working orientation, the early classes always fill, but they are the last to fill,” Meyer said. “I think students would much rather take a later class. Unless it is a required course and that’s the only time they’re being offered, they’re usually the last to fill.”

Although Meyer recognizes the lack of willpower students  have to register for morning classes, she said course schedules are generally set up to try to maximize space and accessibility to students. Using maximum space means increasing the available hours on campus, she said.

Meyer said it is important for students to use the full space of the day, including early mornings, so they can focus on other aspects of their lives.

A 2011 study conducted by two psychology professors from St. Lawrence University in New York found there was some correlation between early scheduled classes and higher grade point averages.

According to the study, for every hour of class scheduled later in the day, there is about a .02 percent difference in the grade point average.

At Sac State, professors say students perform as well at 8 a.m. as they do at 3 p.m.

Psychology professor Megan Heinicke said when comparing previous afternoon classes with her 8 a.m. class, students perform normally.

“I think attendance is a struggle, but the majority show up,” Heinicke said. “When it comes to doing well on their exams, they have a very consistent and regular average.”

Not only does Heinicke see benefits to an early start for her students, but for herself as well.

“I prefer to teach the earlier classes because it gets me on campus, beats traffic and I have the rest of my day to do research,” Heinicke said.

Sociology department chair Bohsiu Wu said when it comes to building a schedule for a department, there are always professors wanting to teach early classes because they are easier to fit into the schedule.

“It creates a little more flexibility because we don’t want to cram,” Wu said. “A lot of our classes are offered from [9 a.m. to 3 p.m.], so they tend to clump together.”

Nick Taylor, a 21-year-old communications major, said he registered for his 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes so he could focus on other life aspects during the day.

“I have to put a strong effort into waking up and paying attention,” Taylor said. “Because of that, I do pretty well.”