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Procrastination is Real

Procrastination is Real

My students can be the biggest procrastinators.  I suppose we all can procrastinate from time to time but I find that my students every year have trouble with completing their assignments early enough to have proper time for editing and self-reflection.  We have discussions in class about the issue but for some it seems to be difficult to change. I am hoping to find advice from the community on any tips or strategies you find effective to help students avoid putting off their work until the last minute.  Thanks! 


Hi  @michellez ‌!

I have a few suggestions...

Sometimes we suggest that for larger assignments, (or just to get students attention because they love to procrastinate) there is also a Calendar event alerting them/reminding them they should work on it. What I like about event creation is that when I'm making it, I have easy access to link to the assignment that I want them to complete. 

That also can work in an Announcement - to get it on their radar.

If it's something where they are submitting a draft and then a final product, maybe create 2 versions of it - one called draft, with its own due date, and another called final. Now with the easy duplication of items like Assignments, it makes it even quicker on the instructor side to do this.

Thank you so much  @ekeefe1 ‌ - this is exactly what I was hoping to hear! The Calendar reminder/alert is a great option and will hopefully keep them aware of the upcoming due dates! I do have many assignments with drafts so your suggestion about multiple versions is also a great one!  Thanks so much for taking the time to respond - have a great day!

Show them this video as a discussion post and start a dialogue about how to develop healthy habits that will last them a lifetime! 

Thank you  @jayoder ‌! #education

 @michellez ‌  I think highlighting the cost of an action (or inaction for that matter) helps a lot. Plain reminders are motivating, but what's super motivating is perhaps knowing how much others got done while you were watching motivational videos on YouTube. 

In addition, do you think automatic measuring/reporting procrastination time would help? It's the one analytical data I wish I gathered while I was a student lol. 

Thank you waaaseee‌ - I agree about the realization of falling behind as a motivator. Do you mean self-reporting by the student? Yes, I think that would be helpful, if the student is honest about it and also if the student "recognizes" youtube (as in your example) as procrastination. I often wonder whether they rationalize their behavior.

Well,  @michellez ,  human-beings seldom rationalize their behavior so let's just not blame your students.

Self-reporting is maybe too manual and as you mentioned students might not reliably report their data in the first your goal here is just to motivate them to start earlier or you want to learn about high/low procrastinators as well?

I think we can use FOMO/competition to good advantage here. Look at a sample notification in the attached image to see what I mean. I've been meaning to add small stuff like this to Slate Desktop for a while now. 


waaaseee‌ - This is GREAT! I think it would motivate me if I knew others were working on something I hadn't started.  Thank you for sharing! procrastination motivation #motivator

  @michellez  Thank You! How do you plan to apply this in practice?

waaaseee   Good question - I have not yet figured that out but I can tell you I am thinking a lot about that.

 @michellez ‌ mind if I help?

I’ve been saying for years that we have analytics for teachers to look at, but why not students? Why not let students know how they are doing related to the class? The only thing I can come up with (from a psychological perspective) is that for some students it might not serve as a motivator. Yes, it would for some, but for others it might make them feel overwhelmed and worse about themselves. That can lead to avoidance - avoid the thing that makes you feel bad, so in this case class and homework. It’s a fine line, but I have to admit as a student I would have loved having this information. 

I am glad I noticed this discussion; working with students on procrastination is one of my biggest tasks as a teacher. Everything about the school system encourages them to put off work until the last minute as opposed to creating their own schedules based on their real time availability. Online, there is so much flexibility, but my students are very passive about that, expecting me to set the deadlines... which they will often meet at the last minute.

There is so much I could say about this subject, but I will stick to just three things for now:

1. Hard and soft deadlines. This is a HUGE help for me:

Use the Canvas “Grace Period” 

2. Talk to students about procrastination. Often. I include lots of procrastination humor in my class announcements. See the stages of procrastination here, for example:

Online Course Announcements: Sunday, March 4 

3. Share motivational and practical resources for working on time management. Here is the "time" section of my H.E.A.R.T. blog, and there are also time-management challenges they can do there for extra credit

Learning by HEART: Time Management 

 @kona ‌, analytics for students is something I'd have appreciated a lot as well (but we're nerds maybe). I do intend to get this off my system via a blog post sometime later. 

laurakgibbs, just curious, is the H.E.A.R.T blog a core part of your class?

It's "extra" in the sense that it is not required; the required assignments each week are the reading-writing-feedback components. But for a lot of students, it's honestly the extra parts of the class (H.E.A.R.T., growth mindset, technology) that is of real value to them. You can see how a typical week looks here: 

Online Course Wiki / Week 7 

My goal is for every student to have something to take away from the class of real value to them. I teach Gen. Ed. Humanities, often with students who start out the class with zero interest in the subject matter (often they enroll just because an online Gen. Ed. is the only Gen. Ed. that will fit in their schedule)... this way, everybody can find something useful to practice and learn. 🙂

Count me in on that too  @kona ‌ and waaaseee‌ - I would have loved knowing that information as a student! Please let us know when you post on your blog! #procrastination#data analytics#student data analytics