January 9, 2006

On mediocre reporting of research

Another article on the sleep research involving adolescents today. As is typical, the interviewed researchers claim that teens' diurnal clocks run later than either younger children or adults. And as is typical, this article doesn't mention whether the researchers controlled for the schedules of the teens. Without doing so, it's tough to say whether the biological measures are a cause or consequence of behavioral structures such as after-school activities and jobs. Does anyone reading my blog know this literature well enough to answer that question?

Without knowing more, I'm agnostic on the research and any policy implications. Since I have a teenager in the household, I will readily admit to my older child's wanting the world to run later. But so does my 10-year-old! And for that matter, I'd appreciate not waking up before 5:30, either. This doesn't say anything about the research, of course, but then again neither does the article's discussion of school schedules! This strikes me as the 2005/2006 equivalent of articles about uniforms—changing schedules, like requiring uniforms, would largely be window dressing on the structure of schools, unless there's some rigorous evaluation of the scheduling experiments. And maybe we could try other things, such as forbidding teens from working past 8 pm on schoolnights, as part of child-labor restrictions?

Maybe instruction might be important, too. I could always wake up for a good teacher at 8 am.

Listen to this article
Posted in Education policy on January 9, 2006 8:38 PM |