"Learners who struggle with procrastination are more likely to burn out, leave the course incomplete, and not sign up for more."
While this is true, I can't help thinking procrastination in general gets a bad rap. Such a pervasive quality of human behavior must have something going for it, no? Especially, I think, for creative people, who are known for not doing much while coming up with things no one else can accomplish no matter how much time they have.
Enter the Creativity Research Journal, whose 2010 study by J.R. Cohen and J.R. Ferrari (no relation to J.R.R. Tolkein or J.R. from Dallas), Take Some Time to Think This Over: The Relation Between Rumination, Indecision, and Creativity, tackles just this question.
One of the things the authors investigate is what happens during a period of procrastination. They decide to measure three possible activities: reflective rumination, brooding, and indecision, and correlate them all to creativity. Their findings show that:
a) Indecision is positively related to reflective rumination but not creativity.
b) Reflective rumination is positively related to creativity.
c) Brooding doesn't significantly enter into it.
They tease out this conundrum (see a, b, above) using a linear regression analysis which shows that reflective rumination significantly predicts creativity only if high levels of indecision are also present. This finding corroborates earlier studies that found that individuals who ruminate and procrastinate excel in creative fields. Procrastination had also been referred to by Dijksterhuis and Meurs (2006) as a "necessary unconscious incubation period" in relation to creative work.
What the 2010 study added is to introduce indecision "as an adaptive mechanism within the creative process.“
I thought so! Sounds to me like, in the creative realm, the brain prefers to mull over problems without our conscious input, and procrastination is just our way of giving it a little space, man.
All of which may have nothing to do with academic procrastination.
But it may be a comfort to those instructional designers who occasionally need to ask for an extra day or two to come up with their brilliant interactive learning solutions.
Cohen, J. R., & Ferrari, J. R. (2010). Take some time to think this over: Therelation between rumination,
indecision, and creativity.Creativity Re-search Journal, 22,68–73.doi:10.1080/10400410903579601
Dijksterhuis, A., & Meurs, T. (2006). Where creativity resides: Thegenerative power of unconscious
thought.Consciousness andCognition,15, 135–146.