Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor(s)

Jay Verkuilen

Committee Members

Bruce Homer

Howard Everson

Mario Kelly

Peggy Chen

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Educational Psychology | Educational Sociology | Higher Education | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology

Keywords

Psychology, Education, Educational Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Behavior

Abstract

Academic procrastination is a prevalent issue that affects school-related and other experiences of many students, with some studies identifying as many as a third of college students sampled as‘severe’ procrastinators. This study investigated some of the factors previous studies have identified as potential contributors to procrastinating in the academic arena. In defining procrastination as a self-regulation issue, it is proposed that distinct executive function processes play a role in one’s efforts at academic task engagement and completion and resisting the tendency to procrastinate on these tasks. It is also proposed that the frequency with which one experiences ‘flow’, a state of total concentration and absorption, when working on academic tasks (e.g. writing a paper, studying for exams) would act as a motivator and enabler of staying on-task, and therefore be negatively related to the tendency to procrastinate on academic tasks. It is further proposed that one’s belief in their general self-efficacy, a measure thought to reflect one’s sense of personal agency, will predict the frequency with which one experiences negative or positive affect and thereby proneness to entering flow states. Lastly, it is proposed that the frequency with which one experiences flow in learning will interact with the relationship of EF processes to academic procrastination, shielding one’s efforts at task completion from the influence of EF deficits. This study investigated the role of gender as a possible moderator of the relationships mentioned above. One of the EF measures of inhibitory control was found to predict higher rates of procrastination on a subjective report of academic procrastination (self-report of the extent of one’s procrastination behaviors) for those identified as low in their frequency of flow-experience on academic tasks, although this relationship was not observed for two other measures of inhibitory control. This same EF measure predicted higher rates of procrastination as measured by the discrepancy between participants’ report of their intended and actual time spent on specifically stated academic tasks. Flow-frequency and positive affect predicted higher -- and negative affect lower -- levels of procrastination on the subjective measure, but lost their predictive power when a measure of self-regulatory self-efficacy was included as a predictor. General self-efficacy predicted higher levels of procrastination on the measures mentioned above (though for one this relationship only approached statistical significance), as well as on a measure of the discrepancy between a report of the intended and actual amount of specifically stated academic tasks participants reported doing, a relationship that was contrary to expectations. Self-regulatory self-efficacy (predicting lower levels of procrastination) emerged as the predictor having the strongest effect on academic procrastination; it and general self-efficacy were the most reliable predictors in terms of the number of procrastination measures they were found to predict. The suggestion of the link between general self-efficacy, affect, and flow-frequency was confirmed with regard to positive but not negative affect. Gender differences were observed for the relationship of the EF measure of inhibitory control mentioned above and negative affect with procrastination measured by the discrepancy between participants’ report of their intended and actual time spent on specifically stated academic tasks: these relationships were found to be significantly stronger for males than for females.

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