Procrastination is behaviour of delaying doing a task that can be done earlier but chooses to do it last minute. This behaviour problem exists in almost every aspect in our daily lives, be it in academic, financial or even in health management. Ryan, M. (2007) stated that “the habit of procrastination can reach such chronic levels that it can have negative effects on their life”.
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Moreover, take financial management as an example. Spendthrift habit or inability to manage finances properly can pose a problem. Common problems done by procrastinators are delaying payments, such as for house rental, cars and so forth. If the procrastinator does not solve this problem earlier, it might leads to bigger problems, for example, the doer may jump into an easiest solution which is to loan from unauthorized money lender. In terms of health issue, some individuals who are sick tend to overlook their heath condition and take action for it in last minute, which then might be too late for them as their health worsened. This particular case is one of procrastination behaviour problems.
Apart from that, as we know academic procrastination problem is prevalence for undergraduate students. Some students who are less motivated tend to procrastinate academic tasks to the very last minute. For example they procrastinate doing class assignment, group project, studying for exam, writing academic paper or thesis. Sometimes, this type of students may finish the tasks just so they do not fail in the subject. “Fear of failure, low self-efficacy and low self-competence” are some of the reasons of procrastination stated by (Schraw et al., 2007; Senecal et al., 1995) extracted from (Williams, G. J., Stark, K. S., & Foster, E. E. 2008).
1.1 Background of Study
Though procrastination phenomenon has big impacts on our lives, little research has been done on it. Milgram (1992) has done the first historical analysis on the subject matter and argued that procrastination rises from advance societies who require various commitments and deadlines. Ferrari et al. (1995) in their book stated that this particular behaviour has already existed long ago, but it is only been related to negative connotations in line with the introduction of the industrial revolution. In the beginning, procrastination was never related to any negative interpretation as it is viewed neutrally by the society. However, from the earlier researches done, procrastination can be then interpreted as one of behaviour problem.
In addition, the word procrastination comes from the Latin pro, meaning “forward, forth, or in favor of,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow” (http://tinyurl.com/procrastinus). There are various dictionary definitions of procrastination. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition) defines procrastination as “to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness; to postpone or delay needlessly”, “to postpone doing something, especially as a regular practice” (Encarta World Dictionary) and “to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring” (Cambridge International Dictionary of English).
Nowadays, many researchers have been conducted on procrastination. Most of the literature involves university students. A procrastinator is a person who is aware that he or she has a task or an assignment to do. He or she is trying and planning to start working on the task, but continues to delay doing so. A person who has this habit is normally doing less important or not important tasks rather than the more important task. A procrastinator wastes too much time on something which gives him or her pleasure such as playing computer games or reading an update in his or her social networking website. Mostly, procrastinators keep themselves ready to work but end up avoiding the task (Noran, 2000).
According to the Solomon and Rothblum (1984) demonstrated that 49% of students procrastinate in academic tasks such as writing term papers, studying for an exam and keeping up with weekly reading assignments. The habit of delaying tasks result in bad consequences, of which Tulik (2008) describes a few consequences. Firstly is fatigue in which a procrastinator keeps postponing his or her tasks and thus become mentally fatigue when the sense of accomplishment is not achieved. Fatigue lowers self-confidence and it can lead to other illnesses such as depression and sleeplessness. Secondly people who procrastinate cannot show their true potential in their studies or work. According to Tulik (2008), procrastination is linked to all kinds of negative effects; thus people who have potential and talent but procrastinate cannot show their talent or potential because they think it is just hopeless and useless to try out anything. The last consequence stated by Tulik, is that the habit of procrastinating makes an easy task very difficult, as a result of postponing the task to a point where in the end the task increases proportion and becomes very difficult to handle. Beswick, Rothblum and Mann (1998) state that “the consequences of habitual procrastination are likely to be anxiety, despair and depression as the person fails to complete tasks or perform them unsatisfactorily”. Procrastination also puts a procrastinator in a situation of conflict and indecision. Beswick, Rothblum and Mann suggested that procrastination also results in poor work because it was done rushed or partly uncompleted. Due to procrastination, a procrastinator wastes his or her time (by postponing his or her task), thinking that the task can be accomplished later, but lastly ends up with nothing started and missing the deadlines (Hobbs, 2008). Based on all the consequences above, it can be concluded that the habit of delaying or avoiding a task results in lower productivity, wasting time, depression, anxiety, fatigue, lower self-confidence, lower morale, and lower motivation.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia has defined several objectives for its universities and students. Some of the objectives are to produce competent graduates to fulfill national and international manpower needs with 75% of the graduates employed in their relevant fields within six months of their graduation, and to ensure that at least three of the country’s universities are continuously listed as among the best 100 universities in the world and one of the said universities is listed as among the world’s top fifty universities. Achieving these objectives, depend on the students and the university as well, and a possible major obstacle towards this is procrastination among the students.
1.2 Problem Statement
At the Faculty of Education UiTM, there are plenty of academic tasks which required constant attention such as studying for exams, academic assignments, class projects, final academic project, and meeting lecturer. Thus, procrastination behaviour might be a major impediment for the students to complete the assigned tasks. Some of the possible reasons underlying this problem are that the students are too occupied with the involvement in outdoor activities, such as sports, camping and school related activity.
Based on previous research, researchers have conveyed that the habit of delaying a task results in bad consequences and disadvantages. Besides that, procrastination occurs in every way in our life. Procrastination cuts down productivity, wastes time, results in low quality work, and also interrupts the emotional side of a person (Tulik, 2008).
Apart from that, Klassen, Krawchuk and Rajani, 2008, state “In an academic setting, poor performance, missing deadlines, low test grade and low CGPA” are always related to disadvantages procrastination behaviour among people who does not manage well. There are various reasons which drive a student to procrastinate. The reason perhaps comes from the student himself or herself, influenced by other students or his/her surrounding environment around them (Noran, 2000). People including friends, close relationship, family and others can effected person to procrastinate behaviour.
Furthermore, this study will investigate and defined academic task which students frequently procrastinate, areas of procrastinate and possible reasons for the habit of procrastinating among students. This research was conducted to find the possible reason that effect of the procrastination on the academic tasks among Physical and Health education students at UiTM, Campus Section 17, Shah Alam.
1.3 Significance of Study
This research was carried out to identify an academic task that has the highest frequency of procrastination among the students, to investigate the frequency of procrastination on academic tasks and to identify the possible reasons of procrastination behaviour among students. The results from this research will benefit the students in which they can understand their procrastination problems and will then find solution for it whether on study skills or behavioural self-control. The benefit to the counsellors is that they can plan better solutions for procrastinators when they know how to distinguish the degree to which the procrastinators is anxious/or depressed. As for the lecturers, this research may help them to know that some procrastinators do find meeting them for educational purposes is not easy, so the result from this research may give the lectures an overview to approach the matter.
1.4 Research Objectives
1.4.1 To identify the frequency of procrastination on academic tasks among undergraduate Physical and Health students.
1.4.2 To identify an academic task that has the highest frequency of procrastination among the students.
1.4.3 To identify the possible reasons for procrastination behaviour.
1.5 Research Questions
The purpose of this study will be achieved by investigating the following research questions:
1.5.1 What is the frequency of procrastination on academic tasks among undergraduate Physical and Health students?
1.5.2 What types of academic task are most preferable by students to procrastinate?
1.5.3 What are the reasons for procrastination behaviour?
1.6 Limitation of Study
The limitation of this research is it only focuses on Physical and Health education students which are study only done to 60 students at Faculty of Education, UiTM, Campus Section 17, Shah Alam. Thus, the result on procrastination behaviour cannot be generalized to all other populations. However, this research cannot be used to define the pattern of academic procrastination among undergraduate students for the limited number of respondents. Longer time and larger scope of respondents are needed to conduct overall study in Malaysian universities.
In addition, it because of time constraints, researcher only used questionnaire. To get more accurate data, more inclusive study method procedure must be used, for example interview, and record observation should be implemented.
1.7 Definition of Term
‘to delay doing something that you ought to do, usually because you do not want to do it’, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003), ”to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring” (Cambridge International Dictionary of English). In this study, procrastination means any behaviour relating to delaying in completing any tasks.
One who is enrolled or attends classes at a school, college or university (http://www.answers.com). In this study, it refers to anyone who is enrolling in physical and health education students at Faculty of Education, UiTM.
A procrastinator is someone who knows that she or he should do and do not do it. According to (Noran, 2000), the procrastinator will work on less important obligation, rather than fulfilling the more important obligation, or (s)he may use his or her time wastefully in some minor activity or pleasure. In most cases, procrastinators keep themselves ready to work, but end up avoiding the activity. In this study, it refers to one who delays in completing any academic task including reading for exam, assignment or thesis.
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1.7.4 Academic procrastination
An irrational tendency to delay in the beginning and/or completion of an academic task (Senecal, Julien, Guay, 2003) (p. 135). Students may have the intention to perform an academic activity within the desired or expected time frame, yet failing to motivate themselves to do so (Ferrari, 1998; Lay, 1986, 1995). In this study, it refers to delaying any academic task or failing to complete assigned task within given time.
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