Towards an understanding of procrastinating behaviours in a Key Stage 1 classroom
This study sets out to understand repeated procrastinating behaviours which may become detrimental to effective teaching, learning and assessment. The five case studies were conducted in a local authority primary school over a period of two years when the children were in Key Stage 1, aged five, six and seven years. The focus of this study was the possible detrimental effects of procrastinating behaviours in curriculum learning, through assigned tasks. Behaviours were observed and interviews conducted to reach a understanding of the tasks from the child’s perspective. The teacher’s perspective of the behaviours within the wide context of the assigned task was interrogated through social constructivist theories of leaming. The communicative process, by which co-participants in a task come to understand that task, was examined in light of the observed procrastinating behaviours. Within this process the influence of pupil learning identities, the use of power and questioning were particularly salient. The case studies suggest, in keeping with the author’s view, that procrastinating behaviours do have a detrimental effect on curriculum teaching, learning and assessment. It would appear that in the course of procrastinating, task objectives may be: ongoingly altered by the learners to confirm existing skills and knowledge, rejected by the learner in favour of alternative interests or progressively dfferentiated by the teacher in order to engage the learner, narrowing the opportunities for shared control of learning. It would seem that these behaviours have much to do with the active interpretation of tasks against the socio-cultural background of what passes as classroom knowledge and becomes classroom culture. It is likely that procrastinating behaviours may be reduced in conditions that allow learning to be ‘scaffolded’ in the social constructivist sense, that value discourse as a means of learning from each other and that share power and control of learning. The study proposes strategies which practitioners might find useful in identifying and reducing the incidence of procrastinating behaviours. These strategies are all concerned with the promotion of discourse in teaching, learning and assessment. They relate to task organisation and management, the construction of classroom culture and the learner’s role in approaching tasks. Through each of the strategies, the community in which the learners find themselves, has a role to play. This proposes a shift from individualism and differentiation to teaching with the goal of full participation.