College Sleeping Assignment

Alice Hooper isn’t the most popular teacher in her school. She doesn’t have the most tenure. When she first started teaching at her junior college two years ago, she could have easily taken the quiet approach. No one was expecting much out of a college professor straight out of university herself, but she decided to throw caution to the wind and decided to mix things up a little bit.

In her first few weeks at her new teaching job, Professor Hooper found that many of her student would come in to class noticeably tired. Her morning class began at 9 AM and it wasn’t rare for half of her class to be asleep at their desks way before the lecture was over. Now Alice had attended college herself, and was not surprised in the least bit by having sleeping college students in her class. She knew that work and social lives contributed to her students staying up into the early hours of the morning. However, she also knew that students who get enough sleep get better grades, but she wanted to prove it. Her first semester of college she let it slide. Her students were adults and accountable for their own actions. If they chose to sleep during class, she allowed them to. The grades she gave our that first semester were right on par with the GPA average of similar classes at her school, and she kept detailed records of them.

Her second semester she taught the same classes, with her first morning class scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays and her second morning class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For her first morning class, she changed the syllabus and added a semester long project entitled “Sleeping Assignment.” She left her second morning class’ syllabus unchanged. Now the “Sleeping Assignment” she assigned required that each student keep record of their sleep cycles. It required that they spend time researching websites that taught about ways to go to bed faster. They also were required to establish a regular sleep cycles of at least eight hours a night. All semester long they kept a log of the hours slept, and the methods that helped them fall asleep as quickly as possible. As part of the final, they wrote a paper about their experience normalizing their sleeping patterns.

According to Alice the effects were apparent almost immediately. It was obvious when halfway through the semester not one sleeping student was to be found in her first morning class. Her Tuesday/Thursday class however remained almost exactly the same as her first semester classes. She waited until the end of the semester so that she could have concrete evidence of what she already suspected, and that confirmation came. At the end of the semester her MW class had a significantly higher average GPA than her TTh Class. The GPA achieved by her TTh Class was nearly identical to the GPA of her first semester classes. What’s more is that her MW and TTh classes had the exact same assignments with the exception of her MW class having the additional “Sleeping Assignment.”

Every class she has taught since then has included the “Sleeping Assignment” as a required project on her syllabi. Alice’s students consistently have higher GPA’s than the average for her college, their test scores as required by the guidelines for SLO Assessment proficiency. Perhaps the most gratifying result from her efforts are the notes she receives from past students on a regular basis detailing how her class forever changed the lives of those whom she taught.


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