Measuring procrastination: A delay discounting approach within a New Zealand academic domain

Delay discounting is often used to measure impulsiveness and has contributed to the development of interventions within the scopes of gambling, eating disorders, and drug addiction. Procrastination is the opposite of impulsiveness and, therefore, can be measured using delay discounting tools, as shown in previous research on scalloping behaviour. Procrastination is a common issue faced within academia, with research detailing the impacts on student grades and mental wellbeing. I aimed to assess the validity of an academic discounting task (ADT) in measuring procrastination within a cohort of university students while assessing if procrastination impacts students’ grades. Other measures of procrastination were used to analyse the validity of the k values produced by the ADT, such as the latency with which assignments were submitted by students, the number of late submissions, and the level of engagement within the paper. Forty-nine participants enrolled in a 3rd-year university paper completed an online questionnaire on Qualtrics that included the ADT. Additional data on student marks and engagement were collected through Moodle and Panopto. The k values produced from the ADT were not related to student marks or any other measure of procrastination. However, a relationship was identified between student overall marks and measures of procrastination such as latency of submission, number of late submissions and engagement scores, while scallop behaviour was also apparent within the cohort, but varying between tests and assignments. The findings of a relationship between the non-ADT measures of procrastination and overall marks suggests student procrastination behaviour does impact overall marks and therefore the ADT k values were not measuring procrastination and future research is needed with amendments to the ADT to make it a valid measure of procrastination. The variance in scallop behaviour between tests and assignments suggested that the scallop behaviour may not necessarily be always under control by the closeness of the reinforcer and can also be impacted by other variables.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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