New research to test ways of improving learning in schools

October 9, 2014, Oxford University

Two new trials led by Oxford University will investigate whether teenagers would do better in their exams if they could sleep in and start school later, and whether physical fitness can improve academic achievement.

The research is part of a multi-million pound programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, to investigate a variety of ways neuroscience might improve teaching and learning in the UK.

Thousands of pupils across England will take part in a series of with the aim of providing more robust evidence about how neuroscience relates to learning and support teachers and schools keen to use the science.

Professor Russell Foster, Director of the Oxford University Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, and Professor Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine, will lead a trial of later school start times, along with a education programme, to assess their impact on teenagers' educational achievement.

Professor Foster said: 'Recent advances in our understanding of the neuroscience of sleep has shown that the body clock of teenagers is delayed. This biology, along with the impact of social media and other sociocultural influences, delays bed and wake times and greatly shortens sleep. Our project will be the first large-scale randomised control trial to explore whether a later start to the school day, along with educational programs regarding the importance of sleep, will have a positive impact upon both academic performance and overall health in the teenage population.'

The project will involve around 31,800 pupils in Years 10 and 11 at 106 secondary schools around the country for a period of two years. Schools will be randomly allocated to groups to test the effect of moving start times to 10am and provision of sleep education sessions on the students' GCSE grades.

In another study, Professor Heidi Johansen-Berg from the University of Oxford will lead a trial to look at the effect of medium-to-high cardiovascular activity on academic attainment, using brain imaging to investigate the correlation between them.

It will involve around 10,000 year 8 pupils in schools in Oxfordshire.

Professor Johansen-Berg said: 'Children are living increasingly sedentary lives and there is considerable scope for increasing their activity levels. We all know that exercise is good for the body, but research suggests that it's also good for the brain. We therefore think that making PE lessons more active could boost subsequent lesson performance and academic outcomes over a longer time, but the only way to know for sure is to test the idea. I'm looking forward to working with schools to find out more.'

Explore further: Maximizing sleep in adolescents yields reduction in behavior problems

Related Stories

Start school later in the morning, say sleepy teens

May 20, 2007

A survey of sleep-deprived teens finds they think that a later start time for school and tests given later in the school day would result in better grades. The survey was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International ...

Recommended for you

Rare fossil bird deepens mystery of avian extinctions

November 13, 2018

During the late Cretaceous period, more than 65 million years ago, birds belonging to hundreds of different species flitted around the dinosaurs and through the forests as abundantly as they flit about our woods and fields ...

Violent crime rates rise in warmer winters

November 13, 2018

As global temperatures climb, warmer winters in parts of the country may set the scene for higher rates of violent crimes such as assault and robbery, according to a new CIRES study.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

julianpenrod
1 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2014
The same old garbage.
If all these new machinations are so crucial, how did they manage to produce Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Michelangelo, Twain, Keats, Yeats, Maxwell, Rembrandt, Sargent using the method of presenting facts and requiring students to pay attention? Montessori, "whole language", "teach yourself", calculators in kindergarten, computers in the classroom, "relevance", "self esteem", "revaluing 'A's'", LATIC and all the public schools produce these days are individuals who design video games, who are addicted to video games or commit mass murder.? Or is it that the New World Order is aggressively seeking to dull the majority and are only using all these tactics to muddy the waters or give the temporary impression that something is being done to try to improve things?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.