Public lecture on Procrastination, Academic Success and Effectiveness of a Remedial Program
Thursday, 21 April, 2016

On 21 April 2016, ISET hosted Maria De Paola from the University of Calabria, who presented a paper by Vincenzo Scoppa and De Paola herself, entitled 'Procrastination, Academic Success and the Effectiveness of a Remedial Program'.

According to De Paola, empirical evidence shows that individuals base very important economic decisions (such as investing in human capital, saving, and searching for a new job) on present-biased preferences. In other words, when confronted with a future investment such as studying (creating benefits in a distant future in terms of higher earnings related to better educational attainments), an individual with present-biased preferences will tend to procrastinate and delay the effort as much as possible. Sophisticated individuals – predicting their future preferences and aware of their own self-control problems – will try to use commitment devices to overcome or attenuate procrastination, whereas fully or partially naive individuals will be unable (or reluctant) to drop this habit while incurring important welfare losses.

There are a few studies which discuss the role of procrastination in relation to consumption, savings decisions, credit card use, health club membership and telephone calls. However, along with her co-author, De Paola investigated the relationship between procrastination and educational performance, and whether remedial courses for those who tend to procrastinate were effective.
Using data from a large sample of Italian undergraduates, the authors measured procrastination against the actual behavior of the students while finalizing their university enrolment procedure. The authors showed that procrastination is a strong indicator of a student's future educational performance and achievement. This result holds true for reliable measures of cognitive abilities, a number of background characteristics, and indicators of a student's motivation. Secondly, De Paola and her co-author showed that remedial programmes also benefit students who tend to not procrastinate, suggesting that policies directly aimed at handling procrastination can help solve a number of self-control problems.

Maria De Paola was invited to conduct an elective course in Educational Economics for second-year students of the ISET MA programme.

The ISET community would like to thank Maria De Paola for visiting ISET and sharing her extensive knowledge of Educational Economics.