Feelings of Anxiety among Students Promote Academic Procrastination

Literature Review: Feelings of Anxiety among Students Promote Academic Procrastination

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Abstract

Current literature shows that anxiety influence students to embrace procrastination. The purpose of this literature review was to examine the role of anxiety in academic procrastination. According to the worry theory of cognitive avoidance, when people experience anxiety, they adopt cognitive avoidance as a coping mechanism. This suggests that when students experience anxiety, they adopt academic procrastination. Current literature shows that anxiety promotes academic procrastination. This information is useful in understanding students’ behavior and helping them to manage anxiety and avoid procrastination. However, further research is required to comprehensively study the role of anxiety in academic procrastination for generalizable findings.

Feelings of Anxiety among Students Promote Academic Procrastination: A Literature Review

Introduction

Academic procrastination is one of the problems restraining students from realizing their educational potential. Students who adopt this behavior experience negative results such as lowered grades, longer study periods, and in some cases, dropping out. There are various studies on the causes of academic procrastination. Most of these studies recognize the major role played by anxiety in procrastination. The purpose of this research was to examine the role of anxiety in academic procrastination. The research is important as it provides significant information for expanding our understanding of human behavior. This information is useful in helping students cope with anxiety and avoid procrastination. This paper starts by presenting the definition of key terms, followed by an examination of the past research on the topic.

Often, anxiety leads to academic procrastination. According to the worry theory of cognitive avoidance, when people experience anxiety, they adopt cognitive avoidance as a coping mechanism. This suggests that when students experience anxiety, they tend to adopt academic procrastination (Sari and Susanti, 2017). Anxiety refers to feelings of distress and uneasiness. Procrastination refers to the tendency of postponing doing of tasks that should be completed. In academics, procrastination is the practice of delaying tasks voluntarily even when negative consequences are expected from the delay.

Prevalence of academic procrastination

According to Ozer et al. (2009), students regularly engage in academic procrastination. This happens mostly when reading assignments, and when writing term papers or exams. In efforts to explore academic procrastination, Ozer et al. (2009) studied the prevalence of procrastination. The study included 784 participants. The researchers administered a sheet that needed demographic information and the Turkish-PASS. Of the 784 students, 52% (405), were identified as procrastinators. The results showed that these students were more likely to procrastinate when writing term papers, reading assignments or when studying for exams (Ozer et al., 2009). These findings were consistent with other studies. The study also found that male students were more likely to procrastinate than females.

Prevalence of anxiety among students

Students and educators have acknowledged the prevalence of anxiety in schools. High levels of anxiety interfere with students’ memory and concentration, which play a critical role in academic success.  Al-Qahtani & Al-Harbi (2017) conducted a study aimed at measuring the prevalence of anxiety as well as risk factors among students. A cross-sectional study was conducted, and the study only included female secondary students. A self-administered questionnaire was used in data collection. A total of 376 girls participated. 35.4% showed normal levels of anxiety, 39.1% showed high not morbid levels of anxiety, and 25.5% showed morbid levels of anxiety. The rate of morbid levels of anxiety was close to the upper limit reported globally. Similarly, Banaeipour et al. (2016), found high levels of anxiety among students. Of the 623 students who participated in the study, 37.2% reported mild anxiety, 48.8% reported moderate, and 14% reported severe anxiety. Based on these studies, it is clear that academic anxiety is prevalent in schools.

Role of Anxiety in academic procrastination

Studies have shown high levels of procrastination and anxiety among students. They have also shown a relationship between high levels of anxiety and low academic performance. This relationship is associated with the avoidance behavior of procrastination in high levels of anxiety (Sari and Susanti, 2017). Sari and Susanti (2017) conducted a study aimed at identifying the relationship between levels of anxiety and procrastination. A cross-sectional study was conducted. A total of 125 clinical nursing students were included in the study. A questionnaire was used on data collection. In this study, 28.4% of the respondents reported normal levels of anxiety, 24.1% reported moderate anxiety, and 18.1% reported high levels of anxiety (Sari and Susanti, 2017). The authors found the numbers of those reporting moderate anxiety and panic as alarming. These students are at an increased risk of poor concentration, inability to relate with others, and irrational thinking.

The study found an association between anxiety and academic procrastination. Sari and Susanti (2017) found that students with high levels of anxiety are 8.1-fold more likely to procrastinate, while students that report panic are 4.3-fold likely to procrastinate passively. Passive procrastination, in this case, involves the inability to perform tasks as planned with no initial plan to postpone the work. Students who report moderate levels of anxiety are less likely to procrastinate. They tend to avoid postponing academic tasks. Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that counseling services be offered to students. These services would help in managing anxiety and avoiding procrastination. Students would be given better coping strategies. However, study participants were from one university. This limits the generalization of the findings.

Nicole (2018) asserts that anxiety plays a major role in academic procrastination. When students experience anxiety, they tend to adopt procrastination as a coping mechanism. The study aimed at determining the relationship between test anxiety among students and academic procrastination. The researcher used a quantitative descriptive correlational design. A sample size of 202 was used. Survey instruments were used in data collection. The study found that prelicensure students who experience test anxiety adopt procrastination as a coping mechanism. Nicole (2018) argues that nursing students are more likely to experience severe test anxiety. To combat these feelings, students tend to adopt avoidance behaviors such as procrastination. This is associated with poor academic results and low self-esteem.

 The research recommends that nurse educators consider assessing students’ anxiety levels regularly. This would help in identifying severe anxiety levels and providing counseling on how to manage it (Nicole, 2018). Educators can use strategies such as time management workshops, reminding students of their assignments, and setting clear deadlines to help students avoid procrastination. The study findings show test anxiety affects academic procrastination. However, the study lacked ethnic diversity limiting the generalization of the findings. The study also relied on self-reported surveys which could lead to bias.

According to Azure (2010), procrastination is prevalent in higher education and anxiety plays a role in adopting the coping mechanism. As per the study findings, between 40% and 60% of students report academic procrastination. These students almost or always procrastinate especially when it comes to reading assignments, writing term papers, or studying for exams. This high frequency is associated with a tendency of thinking that the tasks are more important than others. Students procrastinate these tasks for the fear of failure or other negative consequences. The study found that anxiety results in procrastination.

Azure (2010) states that class and test anxiety and interpretation anxiety encourages students to procrastinate. To reduce anxiety and help students avoid academic procrastination, the researcher recommends three strategies. First, educators can break down a project into terms and require regular submissions. Second, students may be required to read oral summaries of assignments (Azure, 2010). Third, educators can equip students with study and time management skills to reduce anxiety levels. Also, students can choose other coping strategies such as meditation, and relaxation therapy instead of avoidance techniques such as procrastination. However, the author identified other causes of procrastination such as fear of the lecturer and fear in asking for help. The study had two major limitations limiting the generalization of the findings. First, participants were largely female. Second, the participants were nearly completely from one institution.

According to Krispenz et al. (2019), test anxiety results in procrastination as it weakens learning motivation. The anxiety can be as a result of testing appraisal and outcomes. The study aimed at testing the effectiveness of an inquiry-based stress reduction approach in minimizing anxiety and the procrastination that follows. When students experience test anxiety, they develop unpleasant arousal and irritating worries. This brings out a desire to withdraw from a situation. This leads to procrastination.

Krispenz et al. (2019) proposed the use of an inquiry-based stress reduction approach to help students reduce test anxiety and avoid procrastination, especially towards the end of an academic program. By reducing test anxiety, students would avoid academic procrastination. This is important considering that the avoidance behavior affects students’ academic life by lowering grades, subjecting students to longer study periods, and in some cases, study drop-outs (Krispenz et al., 2019). Still, a small sample was used challenging the generalization of the findings.

Conclusion

This report includes a review of the available literature on the role played by anxiety on academic procrastination. Research shows that anxiety and procrastination are prevalent in learning institutions. Findings from the available literature also show that there is a link between anxiety and academic procrastination. The review suggests that when students experience anxiety, they are highly likely to procrastinate. The report provides significant information for expanding our understanding of human behavior. This information is useful in helping students to cope with anxiety and avoid procrastination. Current literature shows that anxiety promotes academic procrastination. However, this conclusion is based on findings from studies with small sample size, lack of diversity, self-reported surveys with a high probability of bias, and participants from one institution. This limits the generalization of these findings. Further research is needed to comprehensively study the role of anxiety in academic procrastination for generalizable findings.

References

Al-Qahtani, A. & Al-Harbi, M. (2017). Prevalence and Risk Factors of Anxiety among           Female Governmental Secondary Schools Students in Al-madinah, Saudi Arabia.          Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, 51(1), 136-143.

Azure (2010). Correlates of Course Anxiety and Academic Procrastination in Higher        Education. Global Journal of Educational Research, 10(1), 55-65.

Banaeipour, Z., Rostami, S., Zarea, K. & Cheraqian, B. (2019). The Prevalence of Anxiety            and its related Factors among School age Children in South West of Iran.          International Journal of Pediatrics, 4 (6), 2019-2015.

Krispenz, A., Gort, C., Schultke, L, & Dickhauser, O. (2019). How to Reduce Test Anxiety and Academic Procrastination through Inquiry of Cognitive Appraisals: A Pilot             Study Investigating the Role of Academic Self-Efficacy. Frontiers in Psychology.

Nicole, C. (2018). Test Anxiety and Academic Procrastination among Prelicensure Nursing Students. Nursing Education Perspectives, 39 (3), 162-163.

Ozer, B. & Ferrari, J. (2009). Exploring Academic Procrastination among Turkish Students:        Possible Gender Differences in Prevalence and Reasons. The Journal of Social   Psychology, 149(2), 241–257.

Sari, N. & Susanti, H. (2017). Anxiety level and academic procrastination among clinical           nursing students in the faculty of nursing of universitas Indonesia.        UI Proceedings on      Health and Medicine, 3, 96-99.

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