Teaching procrastination - A way of helping students to improve their study habits


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Full paper at http://www.lth.se/fileadmin/lth/genombrottet/konferens2012/26_Hedin.pdf

Procrastination, or to against better judgment postpone a task, is a very common problem in general, and for university students in particular where about 50% procrastinate consistently and problematically. In learning contexts, procrastination leads to cramming strategies, where the major part of studying activities occurs close to the exam instead of spreading the learning over time, which generally is believed to give better learning.
This paper/presentation describes a course module on procrastination and
the preliminary results from running the module with about 230 students in media technology.

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  • Anektdot om att jag fick begära förlängd deadline på pappret samt avslutade presentationen på morgonenBörjade undersökai ämnet, hittade mycket forskning!
  • Teaching procrastination - A way of helping students to improve their study habits

    1. 1. Teaching Procrastination - A Way of Helping Students to Improve their Study Habits 2012-08-30• Björn Hedin• KTH Royal Institute of Technology• Media Technology• Stockholm, Sweden• bjornh@kth.se
    2. 2. What is Procrastination• “Defer action, especially without good reason” (Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 1996).• “When one delays beginning or completing an intended course of action” (Beswick & Mann, 1994; Ferrari, 1993a; Lay & Silverman, 1996; Milgram, 1991; Silver & Sabini, 1981)• “To voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay” (Steel 2007)• Extremely common among students
    3. 3. Why we initiated a project to “teach(about) procrastination”• Reflection course - Consistently and over several years seen student reflections on their on studies where they say ”I started to study too late this period, but next period I will start earlier”. - This leads to cramming strategies rather than spacing learning more evenly over time -> reduced learning• Own experience of similar behaviour
    4. 4. Procrastination and College Students• 80%–95% of college students engage in procrastination• 75% consider themselves procrastinators• 50% procrastinate consistently and problematically• over 95% of procrastinators wish to reduce it• students reporting that it typically occupies over one third of their daily activities• The figures above appear to be on the rise.Various studies referenced by Steel (2007)
    5. 5. Causes and Correlates ofProcrastination(Steel 2007)• Task aversiveness• Task delay – temporal discounting• Timing of rewards and punishments• Self-efficacy• Impulsiveness• Self-control• Distractibility• Organization• Achievement motivation
    6. 6. Temporal Motivation Theory
    7. 7. What we have done• In the same reflection course - Study how widespread the use of new media is when procrastinating. • E-procrastination • M-procrastination - Make students • Aware of the problem • Know about its causes and effects • Discuss anti-procrastination strategies - Do a follow-up of the outcome
    8. 8. Structure of the ProcrastinationModule• October 2011: - Introduction to procrastination and cramming using relatively non-academic texts - Write reflection documents on their own procrastination and discuss with peers and teachers in small groups - Questionnaires about procrastination habits related to new media and mobile phones - Standardized procrastination procrastination questionnaire - Optionally make a ”promise” about changing behaviour
    9. 9. March 2012• First follow-up• Read and discuss research on procrastination (Steel)• TED video by Matt Cutts on ”Try something new for 30 days” - And find one habit they would like to add to their lives and one they would like to remove• “Is Google Making us Stupid - What the Internet is doing to our brains” by Nicholas Carr• May 2012 – Final follow-up
    10. 10. Results from the questionnaires• 218 of (about) 227 students answered the questionnaires - 40% women - Evenly spread out over year 1, 2 and 3.• One standardised procrastination questionnaire• One questionnaire about procrastination and ”new media”
    11. 11. Irrational Postponing of Actions50%45%40% Very Seldom or35% Never30% Seldom25% Sometimes20%15% Often10% 5% Very Often or 0% Always There are aspects of my life I postpone even though I know I shouldnt
    12. 12. Regretting not starting activitiesearlier50%45%40% Very Seldom or35% Never30% Seldom25% Sometimes20%15% Often10% 5% Very Often or 0% Always I often regret that I dont start tasks earlier
    13. 13. Facebook on computers35% Very Often30%25% Often20% Now and Then15% Seldom10% 5% Very Seldom or Never 0% Dont use Facebook When I really ought to study I on computer instead use Facebook on a computer
    14. 14. Facebook on mobile phones25% Very Often20% Often15% Now and Then10% Seldom 5% Very Seldom or 0% Never When I really ought to study I Dont use Facebook instead use Facebook on a mobile on mobile phones phones
    15. 15. ”Other” surfing on computers45%40% Very Often35% Often30%25% Now and Then20%15% Seldom10% Very Seldom or 5% Never 0% Dont surf When I really ought to study I instead surf on "other" on computers
    16. 16. Email on computers40%35% Very Often30% Often25%20% Now and Then15% Seldom10% 5% Very Seldom or Never 0% Dont use Email on When I really ought to study I instead computers use email on a computer
    17. 17. Email on mobile phones30% Very Often25% Often20%15% Now and Then10% Seldom 5% Very Seldom or Never 0% Dont use email on When I really ought to study I instead mobile phones use email on mobile phones
    18. 18. SMS on mobile phones30% Very Often25% Often20%15% Now and Then10% Seldom 5% Very Seldom or Never 0% Dont use SMS on When I really ought to study I instead mobile phones use SMS on mobile phones
    19. 19. Summary of e-procrastination and m-procrastination• The three top e-procrastination activities, where students often or very often, against better judgement, engage in other activities on computers - 54.6% Other surfing on computers - 54.1% Film/TV/DVD etc on computer - 52.3% Facebook on computers• Top m-procrastination activities - 50.4% SMS on mobile phones - 28.9% Email on mobile phones - 24.8% Facebook on mobile phones• 88% engage in at least one e-procrastination category often or very often, with an average of 4.7 categories.
    20. 20. Some thoughs about this• Most activities listed was hardly a problem 10 years ago - Facebook, Youtube didn’t exist - Few had computers constantly connected to Internet - Smartphones didn’t exist• Notification ”features” on smartphones allows students to be distracted and start procrastinating anywhere, anytime• Computers are used extensively for learning, and Facebook is but one click away
    21. 21. Follow-up at the end of the coursemodule• 38% saw procrastination as a big or very big problem.• The effect of the course module was followed up more closely for this groups. - About 1/3 had not changed their habits as a result of the course module - About 1/3 had changed their habits in some positive way, but not to the extent they had wanted - About 1/3 had changed their habits much in a positive way.
    22. 22. Some comments from students• Increased awareness of procrastination. - They now identify when they procrastinate which makes it easier to stop procrastinating - But also increased stress if they don’t stop• ”I am not alone!” - Knowing it is a common problem made them feel better.• Some of the anti-procrastination strategies discussed worked well, but they soon forgot about them and fell into old habits
    23. 23. Some anti-procrastination strategiesused/developed by students• Organisational - Eat the frog: Do your most unpleasant task first - Time-boxing - Don’t break the chain• Technical - Turn of notifications on their iPhones - Start using non-distraction software such as Anti-Social, Freedom, Self-Restraint, StayFocusd - Make special ”parent-mode” accounts for themselves on their computers with features turned off - Study in places with no wi-fi - One student sold his smart-phone and bought a dumb- phone instead!
    24. 24. Conclusions and advice• Many student improved their study habits!• Skills useful not only for learning but for life gained.As a teacher• Frequent deadlines in courses• Think about policies about allowing laptop/mobiles on lectures?
    25. 25. Student responsibility and reminders