Published on March 1, 2016 | by Jasen Obermeyer Photography by Samantha Lindgren0
Professors warn dangers of student procrastination
Some Guelph-Humber professors say multiple factors are behind student procrastination, but a poor quality in work and planning ahead are the main problems to address.
Dr. Dan Andreae has taught psychology for over 20 years and has a doctorate in science and neuroscience. He started teaching at Humber College in 1994, then 2004 at Guelph-Humber. He said not every student procrastinates for the same reason, some for a “fear of failure,” while for others because they’re balancing several courses at once.
Andreae said students generally procrastinate because they dislike the given assignment or task. “We seek pleasure and avoid pain. If we perceive something isn’t going to be enjoyable, we’re more likely to back away from it and wait until the last minute.” He explained the majority of student’s quality of work was poor because they gave themselves less time on the assignment.
He explained making a schedule of assignment due dates and commitment to it alleviate putting it off and improve their work. “Planning is important, having concrete clear goals and if students can follow that, they’re less likely to procrastinate.”
Theo Selles has taught at Guelph-Humber for four years in several programs, mainly in psychology and family and community social services (FCSS). He said a factor for student procrastination is balancing between school and a job. “It’s not just a matter of motivation or laziness, it’s a question of survival. They’re struggling to make ends meet, so they have that obstacle to overcome.”
He added students who procrastinated damaged their grades and didn’t learn the information. “Students often times don’t understand the difference between memorizing something and learning something.” He explained students not engaged with the material didn’t learn its overall significance or meaning, instead memorized enough to regurgitate it on their exams.
Selles said professors should make the lecture stimulating for students, a conversation so they’re engaged and less inclined to delay the work. “Part of our job as professors is to make the information and the process of education something that’s interesting enough for students to actually want to do.”
John Irwin has taught at Guelph-Humber in justice studies since 2007, but has taught research methods in social science for the majority of the programs. He said factors behind student procrastination could be almost anything, particularly friends, family and work.
He said students procrastinated the most with essays, but said he feels it’s human nature. “A lot of people do it when they have to and when you don’t it’s not in your mind so much.”
Irwin noticed students who procrastinate in their first-year get more stressed over it, while those in their fourth-year not as much. “They have an idea what the system is.” He said planning ahead to set some time aside is what it really comes down to.