Can a Regular Schedule Improve Academic Performance?

A study by Cao and colleagues, at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, suggests that orderliness predicts academic performance or to put it another way “Quantitative understanding of relationships between students’ behavioural patterns and academic performances is a significant step towards personalized education.”

In this study the researchers collected behavioural records from undergraduate students’ (N = 18,960) smart cards and proposed two high-level behavioural characters:

  • Orderliness; and
  • Diligence.

The former is a novel entropy-based metric that measures the regularity of campus daily life, which was estimated based on temporal records of taking showers and having meals.

Empirical analyses on such large-scale unobtrusive behavioural data demonstrate that academic performance (GPA) is significantly correlated with orderliness. Furthermore, the researchers show that orderliness is an important feature to predict academic performance, which improves the prediction accuracy even in the presence of students’ diligence.

However, as Michael Brooks (2018, p.22) puts it “…it pays to be orderly and diligent in our own analysis. The first and most obvious flaw is to believe that good grades are harbingers of success.”

Research has shown that achieving stellar grades is no guarantee of success in life, of creativity, or of future economic achievement.


Cao, Y., Gao, J., Lian, D., Rong, Z., Shi, J., Wang, Q., Wu, Y., Yao, H. & Zhou, T. (2018) Orderliness predicts academic performance: behavioural analysis on campus lifestyle. Journal of the Royal Society. 15(146), pii: 20180210. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0210.


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