Masters Thesis

Effects of bonus points on student procrastination

Procrastination is when an individual delays performing a task even though the delay may result in negative consequences (e.g., increased stress, poor performance). In this study we examined the effects of delivering bonus points contingent on timely submissions on course quizzes (i.e., earlier submissions) in 130 undergraduate students. We compared conditions Baseline (no bonus points or quiz notification), No Bonus (no bonus points and quiz notification), Earn (bonus points available and added for timely submissions), and Keep (bonus points available, added in gradebook prior to quiz and removed for untimely submissions). Results showed that contingent bonus points resulted in decreased procrastination in the Earn (M = 31.1 hr, p < .001) and Keep (M = 29.4 hr, p < .001) conditions compared to the baseline (M = 49.4 hr) and No Bonus (M = 41.3 hr) conditions. In addition, on the final two quizzes of the semester, most participants selected the Earn (n = 63, 63) condition over the Keep (n = 8, 9) or No Bonus (n =2, 1), respectively. These results suggest that instructors should consider awarding bonus points contingent on timely submissions of assignments to reduce procrastination.