Nobel Prize 2017 Discovery Also Has Impact on Online Learning


Photo of Johannes Strobel

Photo of Johannes Strobel

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was recently awarded to three researchers studying the circadian cycle — or the inner clock of a living organism.

A newly published study by SISLT faculty, Johannes Strobel, and his students uses the concept of the inner clock to study students’ choice, participation, and performance in online learning.

Major findings include significant correlation of students’ chronotypes (inner clock) and the time of their activity in online courses, which indicates an early-type student may prefer studying online in the morning while a late-type student may prefer studying at a later time of the day.

The study has numerous implications for practice. Students might choose an online environment for the flexibility it provides to match their inner clock.

We recommend academic departments be cautious with synchronous online learning elements in which students have to be present at a specific time during the day (Luo, Pan, Choi & Strobel, 2017). An earlier study by Strobel and colleagues found that students in early morning face-to-face sections performed significantly lower than in other sections (Marbouti, Diefes-Dux & Strobel, 2014).

For more information, please read the studies below:

Luo, Y., Pan, R., Choi, J. H., & Strobel, J. (2017). Effects of Chronotypes on Students’ Choice, Participation, and Performance in Online Learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research,

Luo, Y., Pan, R., Choi, J., Mellish, L. & Strobel, J. (2011). Why choose online learning: Relationship of existing factors and chronobiology. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 45, 4, 381-399 earlier study on online learning:

Marbouti, F. & Strobel, J. (2014). You may be able to teach early classes, but students may not be awake yet!. American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, IN,