--Original published at JanellesCollegeBlog
It is known by many that a common problem among college students is the amount of sleep they get. Students are encouraged to be involved in sports, clubs, and other activities on campus, but this involvement can cause students to not get the proper amount of sleep. Involvement in activities takes time away from doing homework and studying. If students choose to be involved in activities and therefore stay up late to get school work done this can be a problem. The question is, how big of a problem is it?
According to a study done by Monica E. Hartmann and J. Roxanne Prichard, there is a 10% increase in the chance of dropping a course for each additional night per week a student experiences sleep problems. The baseline chance of dropping a course was not included in the research article. The study also showed a student’s overall GPA decreases by 0.02 for each additional night a week that they have sleep problems. This means just one night a week with sleep problems could have a tremendous effect on a college student’s overall success. Therefore, students should not spend one night a week, let alone every night, as some do, staying up late to study or get work done.
The research study obtained information from randomly selected college students at several universities who were undergraduates and under the age of twenty-five. Variables such as whether students had learning disabilities, how much time they spent working, and whether they had a psychological disorder diagnosis were controlled in the study. There were some limitations to the study, which means there were some components of the study that could have affected the results. The information used in the study was self-reported by the participants. This means some people may have reported higher amounts of sleep than they typically get, while others may have reported less. People’s definitions of sleep problems could also vary widely. Another limitation was participants in the study were heavily female, and overall academically more successful students.
The participants were asked four specific questions to get an idea about their sleep habits, and possible sleep problems. These questions included things such as when they fell asleep, how they slept throughout the night, and how they felt throughout the next day based on the amount of sleep they got the night before.
Information collected in the study showed poor sleep can have a negative effect on student’s performance in school, specifically their GPA and chances of dropping a course, but not getting enough sleep can lead to other problems as well. Examples of possible problems include an increased chance of getting sick, psychological disorders becoming noticeable, and a greater chance of partaking in possibly dangerous situations such as substance use and unprotected sex.
Many universities focus on other issues such as drug use and binge drinking, but do not focus on sleep problems. Sleep problems can have the same or greater effects on academic performance as these more publicized issues. This is a problem because student’s may be doing all they can to not engage in the dangerous activities that are focused on, while they do not know their sleep habits are having a poor effect on their performance as well. Despite students wanting the opportunity to learn about sleep problems on their campuses, many schools do not provide students with this information. It is critically important for first-year students to get this information as the chances of them dropping a course are 40% greater than other undergraduates. If universities can give students information about sleep as soon as they come to campus it could eliminate problems that these students have later in their college career due to poor sleep.
Overall, I found it difficult to summarize the whole research article and follow the word count restriction. Although all the information in the original research article is important for readers of pop culture sources to know, I as the journalist, had to determine what was most important. I chose to include more specific details that related to the five critical questions. I left out information that seemed to be filler information which could be said in a shorter summary than was presented in the research article.
One of my main focuses when writing my summary of the research article was answering the five critical questions as these are important to readers. Regarding the first critical question, I did define what a college student was in the study, while the pop culture article did not. Although I defined this variable I did not define sleep problems very specifically, and this could lead to some confusion by readers. I think even among participants this could be a vary widely interpreted variable. Another difference between my summary and the news article was that I explained how participants were randomly selected from several colleges and the news article did not. I could have been more specific about the colleges where students were chosen from, but I felt that this was a detail that I could omit. According to the five critical questions though, I believe I should have included this detail to clarify the information for readers. The participants of the study were not assigned to groups and therefore, neither my summary nor the news article could answer the question of how participants were assigned to groups. Another similarity between my summary and the pop culture news article was that they do not allow for causal claims. It is not apparent in either article that random assignment was used because as was mentioned before, it does not seem as though participants were assigned to groups. Findings discussed in my summary could be generalized to students at the universities included in the study because I included how random selection was used in the study. Readers of the news article could not generalize conclusions to any population. Another similarity between my summary and the NY Times article is that they both include specifically selected details to keep the length to a minimum.
After writing my own summary of the research article for the media production project I understand how hard it is for journalists covering psychology research to write a short article about a long, and sometimes complicated research study. I also understand why pop culture articles cannot include all information that is necessary for readers to answer the five critical questions. Before completing the media production project, I thought it was foolish of the journalist of the NY Times article to not include answers to so many of the critical questions. I felt as though she was not telling the whole story, but now I understand she probably tried to get across what she felt was most important for readers to know. From the scholarly article critique I know that research articles contain answers to many more of the five critical questions than do pop culture sources. I learned if you need more information on a topic that you read about in a popular source it is important to go back to the original source because the information you are looking for can probably be found there. After completing these three assignments I now have much more respect for the work that journalists do summarizing large psychology research studies.
Brody, Jane E. “An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep.” The New York Times. 13 Aug. 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/well/an-underappreciated-key-to-college-success-sleep.html.
E., and J. Roxanne Prichard. “Calculating the Contribution of Sleep Problems to
Undergraduates Academic Success.” Sleep Health, vol. 4, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 463–471.,