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What Is Academic Procrastination?

Updated September 10, 2022
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What Is Academic Procrastination? essay

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Academic procrastination was defined as to leave academic tasks, such as preparing for exams, doing homework, and writing term papers to the last minute and to feel discomfort out of this (Milgram, Mey-Tal & Levinson, 1998). One of the most prevalent situation in which procrastination transpires is studying for examinations (Solomon and Rothblum, 1984), and the consequence of this behaviour is low academic attainment and psychological health problems such as anxiety (Howell, Watson, Powell, & Buro, 2006; Klassen, Krawchuk, & Rajani, 2008). Academic Procrastination is the procrastination that occurs in academic settings (Liu, 2010). It is is considered to be a form of situational procrastination, which has been defined as behaviour that is associated to a explicit task (Harris & Sutton, 1983). Burka and Yuen (1983) have said that it is common for college students to delay academic tasks to the point of experiencing considerable anxiety.

Procrastination as a psychological phenomenon which has been defined by many researchers as an individual’s postponements in commencing or finalizing a planned course of action and this sort of behaviour is used as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated to starting or finishing any task or decision ( Ferrari, 1994; Lay & Silverman, 1996). Freud (1953) was possibly the first who made an effort to elucidate the dynamics of procrastination, as avoiding doing something due to anxiety attached to it. According to Freud, we mostly avoid tasks because they are threat to the ego. In this way, people safeguard ego from the risk of likely failure by delaying tasks. Boice (1996) defined academic procrastination as it being a way of largely opting for short term relief through acts that are easy and immediately rewarding, while trying to avoid doing more difficult, delayable tasks that by the thought of them, cause anxiety.

Anxiety is one of the major predictors of academic performance. Students with anxiety disorder display a passive attitude in their studies such as lack of interest in learning, poor performance in exams, and on assignments (Vitasari et al., 2010). Anxiety is one of the psychophysiology difficulties (Callahan, 2001). Breuer (1999) mentioned that all anxiety disorders are defined by the dual characteristics of excessive emotional fear and physiologic hyper arousals. Sarason in Harris et al. (2003) defined that anxiety is a basic human emotion consisting of apprehension and uncertainty that typically appears when an individual perceives an occurrence as being a threat to the ego or self-esteem. A person who has a certain level of anxiety has been found to be a facilitative tool for an individual to perform ineffectively.

University students have a responsibility to maintain their optimal academic performance. Anxiety among students are created by a demanding syllabus which can create a cycle of academic procrastination which leads to feelings of anxiety (Mayya et al., 2004). It is common for students to perform poorly when they experience pressure with their tasks and when they experience high level of anxiety during their studies. The anxiety is measured by state and trait (STAI) instrument, which means that high scores of state and trait determines high level in cognitive anxiety (Spielberger, 1983).

There is some experimental evidence to suggest that students who stated greater levels of anxiety or fear of failing a task showed a higher incidence of procrastination and anxiety (Clark and Hill 1994; Lay, 1994; Solomon and Rothblum 1984, Eum and Rice, 2011, Chang, 2014, Walsh and Ugumba-Agwunobi, 2002, Milgram and Toubiana, 1999). From these studies, it is shown that there is a relationship between anxiety and academic procrastination. Academic procrastination, characteristically measured to be situation-specific and has gotten more attention, theoretical and applied, than any other kind of procrastination; it is highly frequent in students and regarded as harmful to academic development and achievement (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984; Tice & Baumeister, 1997).

One kind of anxiety that stems from academic procrastination, is the test anxiety (Mueller, 1992). Milgram and Toubiana (1999) found examinations elicited more anxiety than assignments. (Vitasari et al., 2010) conducted a study of 205 students to examine the relationship of study anxiety and academic performance. The study showed that Study anxiety is negatively related to academic performance. Nonetheless the result proven that students who have high anxiety levels achieve low academic performance with anxiety level and academic performance. Therefore, the study showed that there was a significant relationship between high level anxiety and low academic performance among the students.

Consistently, results from previous studies found a negative correlation between high levels of anxiety and low academic performance (Soler, 2005 and McCraty, 2007). In otherwise, El-Anzi (2005) describes a positive relationship between high degrees of academic achievement and low anxiety. The finding support with McCraty (2000) where anxiety plays significant role in student’s learning and academic performance, moreover it was revealed that a high facilitating achievement anxiety was related to low debilitating achievement anxiety.

Recent research studies conducted by Sari and Susanti (2018) involving 116 clinical nursing students found that a highly significant relationship between the anxiety level and academic procrastination among clinical nursing students specially when dealing with difficult clients in their clinical experience. Similarily, a previous study conducted by Pravita (2007) involving 48 students in the Faculty of Nursing of Universitas Indonesia who were entering the clinical education phase indicated that 91.7% of the students experienced severe anxiety.

Statistics anxiety is a form of anxiety which in many students is known to deter general performance and not only limited to statistics but can involve systemic and theoretical analysis in academic procrastination as well (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). Previous research done by Onwuegbuzie (2004) was to study the omnipresence of procrastination, and to examine the connection between statistics anxiety and academic procrastination amid students. The research, which involved a sample of 135 graduate students, highlighted that many of the students experience issues with academic procrastination, stemming from perceived procedural difficulties related with statistics, which consequently resulted in anxiety and fear of failure.

Azure (2011) conducted a study that examined the prevalence of procrastination among graduate students, and also investigated the relationship between academic procrastination and six dimensions of statistics anxiety. Participants were 103 Masters of Education graduate students enrolled in the final phase of a two-year Sandwich programme at the University of Education. Azure (2011), research found that a high percentage of students reported problems with procrastination on writing term papers, studying for examinations, and completing weekly reading assignments. The study showed that academic procrastination resulting from both fear of failure and task aversiveness correlated significantly to worth of statistics, interpretation anxiety, test and class anxiety, computational self-concept, fear of asking for help, and fear of the statistics lecturer. This correlated with findings from Onwuegbuzie (2004) that was done.

According to appraisal-anxiety theory (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), procrastination is a function of cognitive appraisal of any task by the individual who procrastinates. When a person faces challenging situation or is supposed to do challenging task, they first assess their competence to manage the task based on self-esteem: A product of past success or failure. If the individual distinguishes themselves incapacitated to effectively complete the task, it results into the feelings of anxiety and the behavioural outcome and an avoidance to do task is procrastination (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Similarly, Solomon and Rothblum (1984) found that the fears of failure and task aversiveness are the primary reasons for procrastinating and that the fear of failure factor includes items which relate to evaluation anxiety and low self-confidence.

A study conducted by Farran (2004) of 186 undergraduate students showed higher academic procrastination also reported higher anxiety. Based on self-efficacy theory and the role of self-efficacy beliefs as a mediator of behavior (Bandura, 1986, 1988, 1989), Farran (2004) study showed there was a relationship between anxiety and academic procrastination. Participants who reported higher academic procrastination also reported higher depression and anxiety, and more negative beliefs about their global self-worth, self-worth relative to the role of student, and sense of efficacy relative to academic tasks. Similarily, Saddler and Bule (1999) study of 104 college students found that academic procrastination was predicted by concerns about negative evaluation, low personal standards for achievement which resulted in anxiety.

However, Changs (2014) study found that specifically, trait anxiety and maladaptive forms of perfectionism were associated with higher levels of academic procrastination. Equally, adaptive forms of perfectionism were associated with lower levels of academic procrastination. Furthermore, trait anxiety facilitated the affiliation between maladaptive forms of perfectionism and academic procrastination and moderated the relationship between adaptive forms of perfectionism and academic procrastination. The results propose that the mechanism by which maladaptive perfectionism affects procrastination is trait anxiety. It is likely that maladaptive perfectionists attempt to meet externally-imposed standards which is associated with anxiety which may lead to avoidance and procrastination. Although trait anxiety was mostly connected with greater academic procrastination, this relationship was reversed for those with high levels of adaptive perfectionism. Therefore, it appears that adaptive forms of perfectionism are adaptive under conditions of high general anxiety

In conclusion the academic procrastination is a relatively common phenomenon, and can impact mental health in an individual particularly anxiety and which can have a consequence on academic progress. Further research is needed to examine critically evaluate the role of anxiety in academic procrastination.

What Is Academic Procrastination? essay

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FAQ

What are the causes of academic procrastination?
Results of data analysis revealed that indecision, time management, lack of motivation, fear of failure, poor organizational skills, high stress, poor coping strategies and peer influence , in that descending order of importance or priority, were considered by participants as causes for their academic procrastination.
What is procrastination in students?
Procrastination is when we avoid or put off doing something that we know is important, either to us or to others . It usually happens when we fear—or even, dread—completing a challenging task. To get around these negative feelings, we do something else that makes us feel better temporarily.
What is the effect of academic procrastination?
For many students, academic procrastination is associated with dysfunctional learning outcomes such as low academic performance, low quality of academic work, lack of knowledge, time pressure, dropout and lengthened course of study .
Why is academic procrastination a problem?
Academic procrastination occurs when students postpone completion of activities, projects, and assignments unnecessarily. Such procrastination may create unnecessary stress and anxiety for people when they attempt to complete their assignments with rush until the last deadline .
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