that is, among other things, negatively associated with academic performance, student health, and emotional well-being”. In this sense, procrastination can be defined as a form of self-regulatory failure, successful self-regulation “enabl[ing] people to control their behaviour, monitor their actions and adjust their performance where necessary in order to reach set goals.”
Likewise, the two researchers note that procrastination relates to self-efficacy in that doubting their own ability can be a reason why students tend to evade difficult tasks. Because of the negative consequences of such a strategy in terms of performance, there is thus a possibility of a negative feedback loop resuting in a vicious circle of procrastination.
Finally, effort regulation being “a resource management strategy that refers to the ability to show effort even when tasks are perceived as very challenging, tiresome or uninteresting, the authors hypothesized that this variable too would correlate with procrastination.
To test these ideas, the researchers studied 20 classes from 3 different schools in the Netherlands, for a total of 556 students with a mean age of 12 years.
Throughout the school year, 5 measures were taken through questionnaires asking participants to rate their agreement with sentences such as “I start studying later than I had intended to” (procrastination), “When I am reading I stop once in a while and go over what I have read” (metacognitive self-regulation), “I’m certain I can figure out how to do the most difficult class work” for this subject (self-efficacy), and “I work hard in the class even if I don’t like what we are doing” (effort regulation).
Results show an increase in procrastination over time, with important individual variations. All three observed variables predict procrastination, with effort regulation showing the strongest decline over the 40 weeks of the study.
Interestingly, neither gender, prior educational attainment, nor the nature of the subject seem to have any influence on these relations. There is thus some “evidence for the universal occurence of procrastination in all types of young students”, the authors conclude.
Fortunately, however, they also note that “based on their malleable nature, student metacognitive self-regulation, selfefficacy, or effort regulation can be enhanced and therefore form a concrete source to mitigate academic procrastination in young students.”
Source: Ziegler and Opdenakker, “The development of academic procrastination in first-year secondary education students: The link with metacognitive self-regulation, self-efficacy, and effort regulation”, Learning and Individual Differences, 64, May 2018, pp. 71-82.