Procrastination and college students seem to go hand in hand. At the beginning of a new semester, almost every student makes the goal of finishing academic work on time, doing their best, and aiming for good grades. In reality, most students put off their work until the very last minute (Feeney 2014). As stated by Student Procrastination (2014), despite this popular trend of delaying academic work, the majority of students regrets procrastinating later on. The main questions are: Why do college students procrastinate? Do they not have trust in themselves? Are the given assignments too hard? Do students lack enough time to complete their work? Do lecturers put too much pressure on them? This review will take a deep look into several students about the prevalence and perspective of university students in general on the causes of procrastination.
Academic procrastination as defined by Simpson & Pychyl (2009) and Steel (2007) is the tendency to delay intended academic tasks, even though this may result in negative consequences. Empirical studies show that around 70% of students tend to procrastinate on a regular basis (Ferrari, O’Callaghan, & Newbegin, 2005; Rabin, Fogel, & Nutter-Upham, 2011). Procrastination in academic settings has been found to be common from undergraduate to graduate students, across races and genders (Klassen, Krawchuk, & Rajani, 2008; Klassen, 2010; Ozer & Ferrari, 2011). Studies show that the tasks that cause academic procrastination include writing academic papers, studying for major examinations, and trying to keep up with weekly assignments (Onwuegbuzie & Jiao, 2000).
The American Psychological Association had written an article that stated, ‘…students worry about performing incompetently or fear their success may increase others’ expectations of them’ (Novotney, 2010). In the survey done by this association, the participants were asked whether they think that the fear of success is the cause of their procrastination. The thought of never being good enough can drive some student to delay their work. This can also lead to low grades and cause them to feel even more demotivated even further. In a research study carried out by Grabmeier (2002) at Ohio State University, it was discovered that ‘high procrastinators suffer more stress and anxiety than other students do.” College students are commonly associated with stress and anxiety. What are we trying to find out if they are stressed because their courses are challenging or are they stressed out because they are waiting until the last minute to do their work?
Some students feel like the work they are doing now will not benefits them later and are just works to keep them occupied, this can cause students to procrastinate even more. A particular goal, for example, can make students feel the need to finish their works early. According to The Journal of Education and Psychology, ‘Self-induced challenge seems to be exceptionally effective when a task is viewed as tedious or unrelated to their personal goals because it enables them to reframe a task so that its achievement is relevant to them for personal purposes, even though the task had no apparent essential outcome.’ (Sansone, C., & Harackiewicz, J. M., 1996). The feeling of immediate beneficial can motivate them to work earlier and harder.
Overall, from the above review, it becomes clear that academic procrastination is a widespread phenomenon that occurs to university students all over the world and it has been extensively studied in the last two decades. Looking at the picture, its causes can be attributed not only to internal factors of students but also external factors that students have no control on as well. Although much research has been conducted on this spectacular topic, they are all based in western context. None has been done focusing on academic procrastination among universities students in Cambodia, so a thorough study into the prevalent cause of this matter in Cambodia context needs to be carried out as procrastination has been a very well-known enemy of Cambodian students preventing them from achieving academic excellence and reaching their true potential.