How Time of Day (ToD) Interacts With Learning In Late Adolescence: Do Chronotype and Motivation Modulate This?


  • Kiely Bol, Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • F. Sayako Earle, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Delaware


Past research has found that both time-of-day (ToD) and motivation have notable effects on academic performance. Past research has also discovered a chronotype synchrony effect (performing a task when most alert) with academic performance  Though, it is still unsettled on how chronotype synchrony and asynchrony each impact academic performance with various learning strategies, and if motivation plays a contributing factor to these learning relationships. Late adolescence also introduces a change in circadian rhythm and learning times, so it is important to explore what significantly impacts learning acquisition for this specific population for learning optimization throughout the day. The first research question asks how learning rate is predicted by ToD interacting with chronotype and motivation. The second research question asks how learning outcome (accuracy) is predicted by ToD interacting with chronotype and motivation. To investigate these questions, the chronotypes of 18-22 year-olds (n=67) were determined through the Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ). Then, participants were trained and assessed with categorical learning tasks manipulated to target different learning strategies. Lastly, the participants’ motivation levels were collected after each learning strategy was trained and assessed. A multiple linear regression model found a significant relationship (p < 0.05) between the 3-way interaction, ToD, chronotype, and motivation, and learning rate.  The model suggests that higher motivation levels lessen the impact the asynchrony relationship between extreme chronotypes (morning and evening) and time of day has on learning rate in rule-based learning tasks. Other significantly trending results, limitations, and next steps are then discussed.