Does early bird catch the worm or a lower GPA? Evidence from a liberal arts college

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Research in psychology has shown that early morning classes are not conducive to learning because of the peculiar sleep cycles of adolescents and young adults that cause them to be especially groggy in the morning. Our study examines the relationship between the times that classes are offered and the grades that students in these classes earn at a highly selective liberal arts college. Our main findings are that morning classes are harmful for student achievement. Grades are especially lower for classes that were scheduled at 8 am and 9 am. Moreover, while students of both genders are adversely affected by early morning courses, the effects are particularly pronounced for male students. This institution assigns students randomly to different sections of the same course, thus creating a quasi-natural experiment and enabling us to control for unobserved characteristics of students. In addition, we include student and faculty fixed effects.