On Academic Procrastination

Pictured on your left is a screen image of the gradebook for one of my distance learning classes in world history, and the pen-and-paper icons in the column "Exam 3" represent students in the process of completing the exam. What is interesting in this particular class is that 16 of 20 students are still taking (or have yet to sign on for) the exam within 90 minutes of the time when it will be automatically closed.

I am not complaining, mind you, as I have the luxury of working from home as a distance learning instructor. True, I will be hanging around the computer at midnight when the exam locks out to be a problem-solver for the procrastinators, but this work sure beats any of the factory or restaurant jobs I found myself working over the years.

I typically provide a three-day window to take the exam, giving students 72 hours to fit the exam into their schedules, yet 80 percent of my students in this class procrastinated to the point where they risk running short of time to complete the exam. Inevitably there will be at least two students in this bunch who will send me a panicky email because the software booted them fro the exam before they could finish.

Luckily for them I am a patient and forgiving person, and I will make accommodations to let them finish via email. However, it never ceases to amaze me how folks will put of until the last possible minute the work that they need to do. I just refreshed the screen, and I noticed that since I posted, two students signed on after 10:45 pm for an exam that ends at midnight.

THAT is some serious additional stress these students self-inflict: not only are they on the clock, but they voluntarily said to themselves "heck, why not give myself only 75 percent of the allotted time!" Ah, the youthful impulsivity and distractability; I just hope these folks are better organized in a few decades when I need assistance with my paltry Social Security check.