Student learning and the menstrual cycle: Myths and realities

Richardson, John T. E. (1988). Student learning and the menstrual cycle: Myths and realities. Studies in Higher Education, 13(3) pp. 303–314.



Female students are rapidly approaching equal representation in higher education at the level of first-degree courses. Most of these women are regularly affected by the cyclical process of ovulation and menstruation. It is often assumed that female students show variations in intellectual performance through the menstrual cycle, and women themselves report poor performance during the premenstrual and menstrual phases of the cycle. In principle, this would have implications for both assessment and tutoring procedures in institutions of higher education. However, the available research evidence indicates that the process of menstruation has no effect at all upon academic performance when measured by quantitative tests or examinations, and that subjective complaints of paramenstrual dysfunction originate in socially mediated beliefs rather than in any objective impairment. This itself has a number of important consequences for institutions of higher education and for research into student learning.

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