Procrastination is a behavioral problem that is typical for both young people and adults who choose to delay and avoid completing tasks in time, and researchers from the fields of psychology, education, anthropology, and management are inclined to study this problem in detail in order to address the issues of performance and productivity. Thus, in their article “Correlates of Academic Procrastination and Mathematics Achievement of University Undergraduate Students”, Akinsola, Tella, and Tella discuss the problem of procrastination in the field of education and associate procrastination in Nigerian university undergraduate students studying mathematics with their results regarding the academic performance (Akinsola, Tella, & Tella, 2007, p. 363).
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In his turn, in the article titled “The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure,” Steel focuses on discussing the psychological causes of developing procrastination in people of different ages and genders (Steel, 2007, p. 65).
Although two articles discuss the topic of procrastination, writings in the fields of psychology and education are similar only in relation to the chosen IMRAD format, vocabulary, and rhetoric appeals, and the articles are different in terms of audience, use of rhetorical strategies, and discussion of findings. Thus, the writings support collaboration dynamics in the fields of psychology and education, but specialists are inclined to use these writings differently because findings in psychology are interested to the wider public than those ones in mathematical education.
The target audience of writings in the fields of psychology and education is usually different and depends on the purpose of the studies and proposed implications. In the case of the article written by Akinsola, Tella, and Tella (2007), the target audience is not determined clearly, but it is possible to assume that specific results of the study in the sphere of mathematical education will be interesting for instructors and other specialists in this field. The situation is different in the case of the article in psychology because Steel refers widely to “readers” of the article as it is in case of “readers interested in the history of procrastination” (Steel, 2007, p. 66).
Moreover, the content of the article in psychology is full of explained definitions to attract a wide audience to discussing the problem of procrastination. It is possible to state that the audience of both writings is different, and it can be explained with references to the fact that writings in psychology involving mostly reviews of previous literature are less specialized. Therefore, having focused on differences in audience, it is necessary to analyze the choice of rhetorical strategies to attract readers.
In spite of discussing the same topic and often using the same vocabulary to explain certain concepts, the authors of two articles differently utilize rhetorical strategies to attract the readers and make them interested in the researches. The tone of Akinsola, Tella, and Tella in the article are rather persuasive in spite of the fact that the authors aim to inform the public about the results of their study. Thus, Akinsola et al. (2007) often use the contrast and causes-and-effect sentences in order to make their points more credible as it is in such example as “The issue of procrastination is no more something to toy within academics but something to deal with” ( p. 363) and in the following example of the cause-and-effect sentence, “Procrastination which is not just a device for avoiding mundane things but on a higher level, is avoiding the big decisions and big actions then set in and prevent one from making real difference in one’s life” (p. 369).
In the article by Steel (2007), the choice of rhetorical strategies is more vivid because the author actively uses similes and metaphors, as it is in the following examples: “definitions for procrastination tend to be almost as plentiful as the people researching this topic” (p. 66) and “one promising candidate is TMT” (p. 71), while speaking about the theoretical framework. If the focus on the contrast and cause-and-effect is important for specialists in the field of mathematical education to draw conclusions on interventions for students, the vivid similes and metaphors are more interesting for the wide public reading the article in psychology.
Similarities typical for the articles in education and psychology are often associated with the use of the IMRAD format to structure the writing and similar vocabulary to present and explain concepts. Thus, the authors of both articles provide Introduction (I), Methods (M), Results (R), and (A) Discussion (D) sections in their works (Akinsola et al., 2007; Steel, 2007). In addition, the researchers also use similar terms, concepts, and definitions in order to explain the problem of procrastination and associated factors in detail. For instance, such terms as “anxious,” “self-efficacy,” “capability,” and “cognitive” are mentioned in both articles to discuss the procrastination as the behavioral phenomenon (Akinsola et al., 2007; Steel, 2007). In this context, the writings seem to facilitate the collaborative dynamics between the fields because of using the same concepts and providing readers with the opportunity to refer to these studies equally while expanding the knowledge on the topic. However, there are differences in the proposed analysis of the findings and accentuated implications.
Writings in psychology suggest proposing concrete interventions to be implemented in order to change the observed situation for better when writings in education usually propose strategies for improvement, assuming that educators are responsible for identifying details according to students’ needs. Thus, focusing on the methodology and discussion of the results, it is possible to state that Steel pays more attention to discussing such interventions as “Expectancy-Related Interventions”, “Value-Related Interventions”, “Sensitivity-to-Delay Interventions”, and “Delay-Related Interventions” because of the specifics of the discipline (Steel, 2007, p. 81-83).
In contrast, the approach of the researchers in the field of education is less specific because they are oriented to students’ individual needs, and being “inspired by the need to improve student performance in mathematics courses”, they propose only a few steps to overcome the problem (Akinsola et al., 2007, p. 367). These approaches accentuate differences in disciplines that are oriented to different outcomes and strategies to achieve the required results with the help of therapeutic interventions or theoretical strategies and steps. Still, differences in discussing implications do not influence the authors’ choice of rhetoric appeals that are similar.
The authors of the articles in the fields of education and psychology use similar approaches to formulating their emotional and logical appeals as well as proving their credibility. Thus, Akinsola and the group of researchers target the emotions of the audience while stating that “it is very sad to note that the performance by undergraduate students particularly the majors in the subject in recent time are not encouraging” (Akinsola et al., 2007, p. 364).
The word “sad” evokes certain emotions in readers. Furthermore, the researchers support pathos with the logical appeal while providing the statistics to support the idea, “over 70% of college students engaged in frequent academic procrastination” (Akinsola et al., 2007, p. 364). The credibility is stated when researchers indicate their cooperation with universities in Nigeria. In his turn, Steel also actively uses the pathetic appeal to attract the readers. The main approach is to state that the problem is known and important for the majority, “Although virtually all of us have at least dallied with dallying, some have made it a way of life” (Steel, 2007, p. 65).
Furthermore, the use of logos is similar to the other writing because pathos is also supported with logos, “80%–95% of college students engage in procrastination” (Steel, 2007, p. 65). The credibility is also proved with the focus on discussing the interactions with experts in the field while conducting the study. These findings suggest that authors in the fields of education and psychology refer to similar rhetoric means to target the audience because their purposes are often associated.
Thus, the collaboration between the fields of education and psychology is facilitated with the focus on discussing the same problem and using the similar concepts, but writings can influence the public differently because the findings in the sphere of psychology can be widely communicated and applied, and the findings in the sphere of education are important primary for educators specializing in teaching mathematics. The topics are not framed differently in relation to the used structure and rhetoric appeals, but they are organized differently in terms of using rhetoric strategies to catch the attention of different audiences.
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Akinsola, M. K., Tella, A., & Tella, A. (2007). Correlates of academic procrastination and mathematics achievement of university undergraduate students. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 3(4), 363-370. Web.
Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65–94. Web.