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How To Help Students Stop Procrastinating

We’ve all fallen into the traps of procrastination once or twice – or in fact, truthfully speaking, many times in our work. In school, procrastination not only leads to poor grades, but it’s also linked to higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. 

For students, two main reasons for procrastination are the fear of failure and  confusion/misunderstanding about the guidelines of an assignment. An important 1989 study concluded that students often procrastinated on completing assignments as a way to avoid stressful situations. So, how can tutors and teachers (and even parents) help? Keep reading for 4 tested and helpful tips!

Rethink deadlines

In a study conducted in 2002, researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch found that breaking large projects into smaller tasks, setting deadlines for each task instead of just one final deadline will yield better results and induce less frustration. Or think of it like running a marathon; spacing out deadlines over time gives students a sense of progression, which can motivate them to reach the finish line. When students reach each milestone (deadline), they will feel accomplished and enjoy a boost of self-esteem, then will continue to push for the end goal.

Restructure feedback

Providing students with highly critical or negative feedback is in fact detrimental to their self-esteem, especially when their self-esteem is already low and this means that they’re more afraid of criticisms and failure. First, tutors should focus on describing what the student is doing right and/or wrong, instead of judging what they’ve done in terms of “right or wrong”, or “good or bad” – because doing this will only trigger the student to respond defensively. Second, tutors should concentrate on interpreting observations about the student’s behaviour and achievements, instead of acting on assumptions. This will also make the student feel “cornered” or “blamed” and they would get defensive.

Time management skills are essential

Being able to study effectively will help curb procrastination. Tutors should guide students through steps in scheduling sufficient time for studying and knowing when to ask for help. This article has some really good tips about how students can get organized and actually be productive.

Have a clear action plan or instructions

Remember in the above we mentioned that one of the reasons for procrastination is confusion/misunderstanding about the guidelines of an assignment? Well, tutors and teachers should do their part in making sure that they clearly outline an action plan for tutoring sessions, or expectations and the requirements of assigned work, respectively. 

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