Compare the educational achievement of medical students with different circadian rhythms in difficult courses of basic sciences


1 Education and Psychology School, University of Isfahan, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Medical Education Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Education and Psychology School, University of Isfahan, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan; Medical Education Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan; School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: Advantageous times for different people are different to some extent, considering the effective physiological changes during the circadian rhythm, in terms of the peak time of physiological activities. The goal of this study is to compare the educational achievement of students, with different morning–evening habits, in completing difficult and easy courses.
Materials and Methods: This research is a retrospective descriptive–analytical study, which has been conducted on students of the fifth semester of General Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. The morning–evening habits of the students were determined by the Horne-Strauss 19-item questionnaire. The students were asked to determine the courses that were 'difficult' and 'easy,' using a researcher-made questionnaire. The students' scores in the considered courses during the five semesters were obtained from the Education Department of the Faculty and analyzed using the descriptive t-test, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and the multivariate regression test in the SPSS software.

Results: Sixty-three students (67% girls and 33% boys) participated in this study, of whom 11, 60, and 29% were morning, morning–evening, and evening students, respectively. The mean scores of the difficult courses in all five semesters were reduced in the evening pattern compared to the morning and morning–evening patterns. Reduction of the mean score in the difficult courses, in the evening group, compared with the morning–evening and morning groups was observed in all five semesters among girls, but in three semesters among boys.
Conclusion: This study showed that evening students experienced academic failure in difficult courses, which required a more cognitive performance. It is recommended that difficult specialized courses be presented at hours when all student groups have a better cognitive performance


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