Another dot in the blogosphere?

Opportunity or trap?

Posted on: May 16, 2019

In this recent blog post, Lisa Lane reflected on how students wait till the last minute to submit work or participate in online discussions.

Like most instructors, she lamented on how typical this sort of procrastination was and how it affected the lives fellow instructors. She described how she took the opportunity to interact with and teach the procrastinators and wondered:

First, is it safe now that we have many online classes to change deadlines to a more reasonable hour? And is the last hour before the deadline an opportunity to teach that we should be using?

This might sound like an untapped opportunity to facilitate or teach. But I see it as a trap because it does not deal with the underlying tendency to procrastinate.

However you work, there is no denying that waiting to the last minute reduces effort in terms of reading, writing, reflecting, and revising. Ignoring this bad habit only entrenches it.

Breaking this habit is difficult. That is why it is important to address. Instead of falling into the trap of seemingly going with the late flow, I would attempt to change mindsets and behaviours.

I would do this by designing assignments that reward consistency instead of last ditch pitches. I would set up milestones and monitor behaviours. I would model such behaviours and show students how to internalise discipline. I would show evidence that such an approach works and is less painful in the long run.

The more I do this, the more my students and other educators benefit. So I would avoid the trap and create an opportunity to deal with mindsets instead of behaviours.

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