Monday, 8 November 2010

How Sleep Affects Grades

Teens frequently hear about the connection between enough sleep and good grades. They do not always, however, put theory into practice. This statistics project anonymously collects data about students' sleep habits, both how long they sleep and what time they go to bed, and compares it to their average grades. The data can be analyzed using a variety of statistical methods, and students follow up the analysis by relating it to their own habits.
Collecting the Sleep and Grade Data
Prior to asking students to provide data about their sleep and grades, ask them to keep track of this information for one to two weeks. During this time they should record when they go to bed each night and how long they sleep. Since many teens sleep longer on the weekends, it may be better to restrict this to only school nights. At the end of the allotted time students should find the mean, or average, time they went to bed and duration of sleep.
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Collect the sleep data anonymously in class along with an average grade for their courses. This can be collected by having students fill out a sheet of paper without recording their name, or to enter it directly into a spreadsheet or database prepared for the project.
Students Analyze and Discuss the Data

Once the data has been collected from each student, the class can practice their statistics skills. Whether on paper or on a computer, each student or group would receive a copy of the data. They should look at grades verses average amount of sleep, time to bed verses average amount of sleep, and time to bed verses average grades. A variety of methods can be used, including bar or line charts, stem and leaf plots, and calculating mean, median and mode, depending on the skills of the students.
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After analyzing the data, students should also discuss the information they glean from it. A small group or class-wide discussion about what they see for trends and what it may mean would help students see the information from a variety of view points and experiences. Asking them to write a short report afterwards, including the data and their charts, ties in the results with their own experiences.

Studying statistics can become more relevant to teens when they collect data about something meaningful to them, such as sleep and grades. The data can be collected anonymously, graphed and analyzed with a variety of statistical methods, and be analyzed to look for trends. Discussing the results also shows students the connection between their sleep habits and school grades.

Read more at Suite101: How Sleep Affects Grades: Classroom Statistics Project

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