Evaluating Active Interventions to Reduce Student Procrastination

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Virginia Tech

Procrastination is a pervasive problem in education. In computer science, procrastination and lack of necessary time management skills to complete programming projects are viewed as primary causes of student attrition. The most effective techniques known to reduce procrastination are resource-intensive and do not scale well to large classrooms.

In this thesis, we examine three course interventions designed to both reduce procrastination and be scalable for large classrooms. Reflective writing assignments require students to reflect on their time management choices and how these choices impact their classroom performance. Schedule sheets force students to plan out their work on an assignment. E-mail alerts inform students of their current progress as they work on their projects, and provide ideas on improving their work behavior if their progress is found to be unsatisfactory. We implemented these interventions in a junior-level course on data structures. The study was conducted over two semesters and 330 students agreed to participate in the study. Data collected from these students formed the basis of our analysis of the interventions.

We found a statistically significant relationship between the time a project was completed and the quality of that work, with late work being of lower quality. We also found that the e-mail alert intervention had a statistically significant effect on reducing the number of late submissions. This result occurred despite students responded negatively to the treatment.

procrastination, self-regulation, Self-efficacy, scheduling, schedule sheets, reflective writing, active learning, e-mail alerts