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The Meanings of Procrastination for Adult Learners

Procrastination is a widespread and human behaviour (Steel, 2007, Steel et al 2001, Klassen et al 2008, Ellis & Knaus, 1977, Rothblum & Solomon, 1984), which is common across different situations in every area of life. Procrastination is a self-regulation failure that has an effect on the quality of work and academic success, one’s image, and which results in a variety of sensations and negative emotions, increased levels of stress, and an increased chances of illness (Tice & Baumeister, 1997; Ferrari, 2010; 37; Pychyl & Sirois, 2016, 163). Problems associated with procrastination are characteristic to learners in the demanding situations of adult education, the goal of which is self-direction, autonomy and independence.

The aim of this master's thesis is to understand what meanings are attributed to procrastination by an adult striving towards self-directed learning. The meanings of procrastination are analysed in the context of their self-narrative which contributes to their learner identity. Self-narratives are a way of creating identity that takes place in a dialogue with a social context (McAdams et al, 2006). Empirical data was collected using eight semi-structured interviews. The sampling included eight adults, who were in the role of the learner at the time of the study. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006).

As a result of this research it was found that meanings of procrastination, and the selfnarratives that are based on it, are variable and related to previous experience and aspects of procrastination, such as task attributes, substitute tasks, and emotions that arise both from the task and from procrastination itself. Contrary to earlier studies, it was found that high self-efficacy could support the vicious circle of procrastination.

Master’s thesis has four parts and three appendices and gives an analytical overview of the meanings of procrastination for adult learners. The findings may help adult learners in understanding their procrastination and offer adult educators opportunities to acknowledge the meanings, effects and choices connected to procrastination.

Key words: procrastination, self-efficacy, self-regulation, self-narratives, adult learner

Masters thesis defended in Tallinn University is published in ETERA catalogue


Resource Details
Resource author
Kristi Kartašev
Type of resource
Studies and Reports
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