When our education system cares only to final outcome, why should I do my project before the deadline?

One of my friend has posted this TED talk recently on her Facebook page. I enjoyed a lot by watching this talk. The procedure is the same as what I have  been doing during my education from as early as primary school till today! It seems, almost all of us, if we don’t learn anything from education system, we are master and proficient in “procrastination.” There is a joke that says, we have no PhD graduates and  no tenured professors without deadlines! God don’t get deadlines from us!

But the question is, why all of us, are used to procrastinate our tasks up to the last minutes? My question is how much of this behavior results because of the system?

Part of this behavior, I believe, can be explained by our education system. The education system cares only to outcome and not to procedure. The procedure does not matter for the system and the system does not reward people based on the procedure but it only praise them based on their outcome. I understand that there is a problem in most cases to identify the procedure, however, there are various conditions that the process can also be measured and rewarded.  For instance, in primary education, students tend to attend in lecture based classes and they mostly evaluate based on test scores (midterms and finals). Students know this fact that their final grades depend only on their test scores and the learning process does not matter for teachers. In this situation, a rational behavior will be procrastinate your learning process for the tests’ nights. But what if the learning process is also matter? If instead of only tests scores, the students’ grades depend on the learning process, such as class participation, class activities, and projects that they have to do during a semester with weekly reports, then, we may expect students put efforts and times for their course not only at exams’ nights. Using online platforms such as class forum also can help students learn do their jobs on time instead of procrastinating them for last minutes. During higher education (college education and graduate school), instructors have more freedom to give more weights on learning process rather than sticking to test scores. However, I think the exercise should be started from the beginning of someone’s education. Paying attention to learning procedure just when a person enter to college is too late for changing in his/her behavior. I am aware of the fact that most of us, regardless of our education system, tend to procrastinate our duties based on “Parkinson’s Law.” This law simply said that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” however, I think with correct system that rewards the process rather than the outcome, we can alleviate the procrastination behavior. If we have a system that teaches us that life is a marathon not a sprint ( as Professor Duckworth told in her ted talk), then we learn to do our duties in a precise schedule rather than doing it at the 11:45 pm of the due date! I am not expertise in education policy but I believed we need to think about redesigning the current education system. In this current world, procrastination does not work and work has been done in last minutes does not have enough quality to solve our complicated problems. We need to learn to change our views and learn to be motivated and passion for our long term goals. This paradigm shift needs an educational system that teaches kids to be gritty and passion, to look at the whole life as a long procedure rather than district moments, and to do their exercises every day like a marathon runner!


Filed under Blog, Diversity, education, gedivt, procrastination

6 Responses to When our education system cares only to final outcome, why should I do my project before the deadline?

  1. carriekilleen

    Thanks for the post! In several classes I have taken that involve a final project or research paper, the professor had us turn in either an outline, first draft, annotated bibliography, etc., partway through the semester, with the intent of preventing procrastination disasters. I always liked that extra nudge to get me at least thinking about my project. However, I am not sure about assigning more frequent project updates, reports, or other “checks” to make sure the students are still doing what they are supposed to do. For one, the students may still procrastinate, in that they do the reports the night before they are due and, while they may not be procrastinating on the project, they are still procrastinating. On a similar note, and people are different, but I told my advisor I did not want to have weekly or regularly scheduled meetings with him to go over my dissertation research–for me, progress doesn’t really go at regularly-scheduled intervals, so some weeks I have nothing to say, other weeks I might accomplish quite a lot. And, while I agree that education should value the learning process over the final outcome, students need to learn to be adults and manage their time effectively, so I am not sure if giving them a step-by-step roadmap to success (in the sense of weekly reminders that they should be working on their projects) is always the best idea.

  2. Thanks carriekilleen for your great comment. I agree with you that regularly check may not be the only solution. I also mention this fact that learning to do our job on time. As I said in my post also, kids need to learn a new approach to life from their early of their education. As far as we look at our life as a sprint and care only to outcome, no checks can solve procrastination problem and my point in blog is not to give them a step-by-step roadmap to do their job. I think we need a system to teach us using our time effectively and change our approach to life. If this has happened, I think procrastination problem will be solved in most cases.

  3. Ken Black

    This is interesting because architecture is a discipline devoted to the process of designing and the personal process you bring to the studio. If fact most of my research is devoted to assisting the development of this process in new students and understanding its development in older students.

    Time moves forward without you, and in spite of you, not because you managed some project. To effectively manage time is actually to be intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically — namely the deadline.

    The disucssion that both of you bring up is exactly the point. Those who are intrinsically motivated (or simply have less on their plate) are more likely to finish early, and those who need that push will receive it in the form of the mandatory deadline.

    Education is inherently: what we put in is what we get out. If the point is to meet deadlines are we missing the larger experience that is college? We have a unique opportunity that happens and then it is gone, why not enjoy it responsibly, or to the level that we desire? Education is not simply the time spent in class and in pursuit of assignments. It is the socialization and exposure to new ideas that broaden horizons and refines ideas and positions on life.

    This means we trust students and we believe in the agency that we give them to choose to be timely or not, to be motivated by the topic or by the punishment derived by the system. We need to keep moving, but sprint when you have to.

  4. Thanks Ken and Professor Nelson for your comments.

  5. Great points! I should first start by saying that I am definitely a non-procrastinator! I like to plan for things and get them done way before the deadlines so that I have time to revisit them before the submission date… Same thing with studying for my exams etc. However I think that you are making some great points and I can understand where you’re coming from…

    I think that one potential solution to this problem could be having more in class exercises where we keep the students engaged and involved. I have never really experienced this during my undergraduate studies, however in my graduate studies, I have taken many courses (like the GEDI course) which involve preparations before each session. Also, the need for preparation weather it is reading the material and doing an assignment comes from the fact that in order to be part of the class and engage in the discussions you will need to get the tasks done before each class…

    I think something like this at a lower level will definitely keep the procrastinators engaged as well!

Leave a Reply