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Using Performance Bonuses To Decrease Procrastination

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade in Teaching II

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1333.1 - 15.1333.10



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Paper Authors

author page

Walter Schilling MSOE

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Performance Bonuses to Decrease Procrastination


A common problem amongst college students is procrastination. Students tend to wait until the last minute to work on projects, especially if the project is longer than a day or two in duration. By procrastinating, students often end up rushing at the end to complete the project, resulting in the student not obtaining the optimal educational benefit from the assignment. This syndrome also leads to long lines outside of the office door on the day or two before an assignment is due, as the students are frantically trying to complete an assignment and have questions that they cannot answer. Those who are able to work effectively under pressure complete the assignment, while those who do not either turn in substandard work or submit late assignments. The late assignments receive reduced credit and impact the delivery of the next assignment. These late assignments also defer grades being returned to other students, as it is difficult for fair and equitable grading to be ensured unless the majority of assignments are graded at the same time.

In the construction industry, it is common for contractors to be assigned a performance bonus. Contracts that are finished early receive an incentive, typically in the form of an extra payment, while jobs which are finished late are penalized. In academics, it is common for a penalty to be assessed on late assignments. However, grading has not provided an incentive for students to finish their assignments early. This article analyzes the results of applying such an incentive system to engineering assignments. Through a small study, it will analyze whether performance bonuses reduce tardiness in assignment submissions as well as whether a performance bonus improves student learning through better achievement of course outcomes.


One of the most common problems faced by students is procrastination. It is estimated that 95% of all college students procrastinate at some point in their academic career, and 25% of students are chronic procrastinators1. This is especially prevalent on long assignments. If an assignment is not due immediately at the next class session, students wait until either the weekend before or the night before the assignment is due to start work. This can be very problematic, as by procrastinating, any problems they encounter may result in either an incomplete or late submission.

Procrastination also has additional effects on college students. College students who procrastinate tend to have ``unhealthy sleep, diet, and exercise patterns’’2. Research indicates that procrastination can be related to the self paced nature of assignments as well as low self esteem3. Procrastination is also linked with decreased student achievement 4,5,6 and cramming.

Procrastination can be especially difficult for students who are new to the college environment. In addition to adjusting to college life, bad habits may be magnified. This can lead to poor performance, academic probation, and ultimately withdraw from school. It is cited in multiple

Schilling, W. (2010, June), Using Performance Bonuses To Decrease Procrastination Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16205

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