The cost of procrastinating? About three points.

Researchers calculate cost of waiting to complete assignments

About one-third of students wait until the day before an assignment is due to start it—and score about three points lower than the class average, according to a new study.

Researchers at the education technology company Knewton analyzed the grades of 5,000 students in 27 different introductory chemistry classes at colleges nationwide. All students were using the company's educational software, so researchers could see when a student first opened an assignment, the assignment due date, and the grade earned for the assignment.

Fewer than half of students started the assignment three days or more before it was due, and one in three waited until the night before to begin.

The procrastinators' average grades were about three points lower than the average grade in the class on the same assignment.

Likewise, students who started early earned higher grades. People who began an assignment three or more days in advance scored two to four points higher than the class average.

However, researchers say they were surprised to discover that students saw diminished gains for starting an assignment more than three days ahead of time. "You don't do any better for starting six days before it's due. We don't know what's causing that," says Hillary Green-Lerman, a data scientist who worked on the study (Hechinger Report/U.S. News & World Report, 6/15).

How does procrastination affect your students? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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