Psychometric Properties of the Procrastination Assessment Scale-Student (PASS) in a Student Sample of Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences
Background: Procrastination is a common behavior which affects different aspects of life. The procrastination assessment scale-student (PASS) evaluates academic procrastination apropos its frequency and reasons.
Objectives: The aims of the present study were to translate, culturally adapt, and validate the Farsi version of the PASS in a sample of Iranian medical students.
Patients and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, the PASS was translated into Farsi through the forward-backward method, and its content validity was thereafter assessed by a panel of 10 experts. The Farsi version of the PASS was subsequently distributed among 423 medical students. The internal reliability of the PASS was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted on 18 items and then 28 items of the scale to find new models. The construct validity of the scale was assessed using both EFA and confirmatory factor analysis. The predictive validity of the scale was evaluated by calculating the correlation between the academic procrastination scores and the students’ average scores in the previous semester.
Results: The corresponding reliability of the first and second parts of the scale was 0.781 and 0.861. An EFA on 18 items of the scale found 4 factors which jointly explained 53.2% of variances: The model was marginally acceptable (root mean square error of approximation [RMSEA] =0.098, standardized root mean square residual [SRMR] =0.076, χ2 /df =4.8, comparative fit index [CFI] =0.83). An EFA on 28 items of the scale found 4 factors which altogether explained 42.62% of variances: The model was acceptable (RMSEA =0.07, SRMR =0.07, χ2/df =2.8, incremental fit index =0.90, CFI =0.90). There was a negative correlation between the procrastination scores and the students’ average scores (r = -0.131, P =0.02).
Conclusions: The Farsi version of the PASS is a valid and reliable tool to measure academic procrastination in Iranian undergraduate medical students.
Keywords: Validation Studies; Students; Education; Medical; Undergraduate
Procrastination means a purposive, habitual, intentional, and needless delay in beginning or completing tasks, which prevents individuals from reaching their goals (1). Most people procrastinate sometimes, but some people chronically tend to postpone their tasks, which may cause severe problems. Studies have shown that procrastination is prevalent in both general (2) and academic (3) populations and that it can implicate various aspects of life such as work, career, marriage, social relations, and financial management. The prevalence of procrastination has been reported to be 20% (4), 15% - 25% (5), and 46% (2) in different studies.
Academic procrastination, defined as postponing academic assignments and tasks (6), is a prevalent issue (7). In a study, Ferrari reported that 70% - 95% of the students procrastinated on their assignments ‘(4). Short-term academic procrastination may be accompanied by pleasure, but in the long term, it may lead to such negative outcomes as anxiety, stress, and depression (8). Researchers have proposed different factors pertaining to academic procrastination. Ozer in Turkey suggested 4 factors: perfectionism, task aversion, rebellion against control, and risk taking (9). Likewise, Onwuegbuzie reported that a fear of failure and task aversion were responsible for procrastination in writing term papers in the graduate students recruited in the study (10). The results of some other studies have indicated that procrastination goes in tandem with a lack of self-determined motivation, intrinsic reasons for pursuing academic tasks (11), and low academic self-efficacy and self-esteem (12). Procrastination is also correlated positively and significantly with test anxiety (13). In consequence, academic procrastination is likely to interfere with academic achievement (14, 15). The significance of the different medical fields dictates that medical students study deeply and gradually; it is, thus, advisable that procrastinating medical students and the reasons behind their procrastination be pinpointed so that information can be provided to them as regards the consequences of their procrastination. In addition, university instructors should be able to identify procrastinators. These are the reasons why the development of an instrument to identify the problem and its underlying causes is of such importance. Regrettably, there are only a few instruments available for measuring procrastination such as the Tuckman procrastination scale (12) and the procrastination assessment scale-students (PASS). The PASS was originally developed by Solomon and Rothblum (3). This useful instrument has since been translated and used in Iran (16); however, there has yet to be a paper with regard to its validity. The lack of a comprehensive and validated instrument for the assessment of academic procrastination in Iran constitutes a barrier to delving into the problem and its reasons as well as devising appropriate interventions.
The aims of this study were to translate and validate the PASS into Farsi in order to assess procrastination in Iranian students.
3. Patients and Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted on 423 students of Sabzevar university of medical sciences, which is a public university. The inclusion criterion required the participants to be undergraduate students. Students who did not fill out the questionnaire completely were excluded from the study. The stratified random sampling method was employed to collect the data. The total number of the medical undergraduate students of Sabzevar university of medical sciences was 1,166. Therefore, almost one-third of the students were included in the study. One-third of the students of each 4 levels in different courses were randomly selected. The sample size was determined based on the exploratory factor analysis (EFA), which considered 10 subjects per item satisfactory. Since the scale contained 46 items divided into 2 parts (first part = 8 items and second part = 28 items), a sample of 280 students was enough. In previous studies, the rate of procrastination was estimated at 50%–90%. Using the formula pqz2 /d2, with a confidence level of 95% and a degree of precision of 0.05, the required sample size was estimated at 138 - 384.
Considering a higher estimation and probability of incomplete questionnaires of 10%, the sample size was determined at 423.
3.1.1. World Health Organization-5 Well-Being Index (WHO-5)
The world health organization-5 questionnaire (WHO-5 questionnaire) (17) consists of 5 positively worded items on the respondent’s feelings during the preceding 2-week period. Each item is rated on a 6-point Likert scale from 0 to 5, with 0 indicative of positive feelings at no time and 5 indicative of constant positive feelings. The total score ranges from 0 to 25. The WHO-5 has been validated in previous studies (18, 19) and translated into Farsi and validated (20).
3.1.2. Procrastination Assessment Scale-Student (PASS)
The PASS was created by Solomon and Rothblum (3) and includes 44 items in 2 parts. The first part consists of 18 items measuring the level of procrastination in 6 academic domains: 1) writing a term paper, 2) studying for an exam, 3) keeping up with weekly reading assignments, 4) performing administrative tasks, 5) attending meetings, and 6) performing academic tasks in general. Each of these 6 domains contains 3 items rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale. The first item measures the frequency of procrastination on academic tasks, the second item measures the extent to which procrastination on the task was causing a problem for students, and the third item measures the extent of students’ willingness to decrease their procrastination.
The second part of the PASS contains 26 items, each rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 indicative of “not at all reflects why I procrastinated” to 5 indicative of “definitely reflects why I procrastinated”. This part assesses the reasons for academic procrastination (ranging from 26 to 130). The validity of the PASS was confirmed during the early development of the scale (3) and its reliability in subsequent studies (21, 22).
3.2. Content Validity
A forward-backward translation method was employed while preserving the semantics of the phrases’. A PhD holder in the English language translated the PASS into Farsi, and another PhD holder in the English language translated it into English. Finally, a bilingual PhD instructor compared the Farsi version, the back-translated English version, and the original version. Some minor corrections were made. Content validity was assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively by an expert panel, comprised of 3 experts in educational psychology and 7 PhD-holding faculty members with at least a 10-year educational background, who discussed each item and the relevancy of the items to Iranian culture. The content validity ratio (CVR) of each item of the PASS was calculated. The CVR of all the domains and items except the sixth domain (ie, university activities in general) exceeded 0.62 (23). The panelists argued that this domain was repeated in the previous domains. Nevertheless, we did not exclude the sixth domain and instead changed the domain title to “other university activities such as cultural, athletic, and artistic activities” according to the panelists’ recommendations. The panelists were asked to express their opinion on the clarity, simplicity, and relevancy of each item to Iranian culture. The content validity index (CVI) was calculated for each item. The minimum acceptable CVI is 0.8 (24). The CVI of all the items exceeded 0.8. The experts recommended an idiomatic substitute for Item 34. ‘We, also, changed Item 43 from “You felt you were too lazy to do the project.” to “You felt that the project was too hard for you to do.” since the experts maintained that it is not usual in our culture for individuals to acknowledge their own weaknesses and insufficiencies.
3.3. Face Validity
Face validity was determined through the selection of 30 students from 3 different grades. The students were asked to fill out the instrument to identify the time needed for completing the instrument and explain their interpretation of the items. Thereafter, 3 group discussions were held where the students discussed vague items and the scaling and wording of the items. Two more items were added to the reasons for procrastination in keeping with the students’ ideas: “You anticipated the cancelation of the project.” and “You thought that at the end of the semester, your professor would be too busy to check your work meticulously.” Furthermore, Item 20 was changed from “You waited for your classmate to help.” to “You waited for your classmate’s presentation to learn how to prepare your work.”
3.4. Statistical Software
The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 18.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) for Windows. Additionally, LISREL, version 8.80 (Scientific Software International, Inc. 2007) was utilized for the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).
3.5. Data Analysis
The individuals’ mean imputation was drawn upon in order to deal with missing data (25). Normality checking revealed that the 46 items were normally distributed. There was neither a ceiling nor a floor effect. The internal consistency of the instrument was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. A Cronbach’s alpha value > 0.6 was regarded as acceptable (26). The construct validity was assessed using an EFA and a CFA. The CFA was conducted via structural equation modeling. The χ2/df < 5.00, comparative fit index (CFI) value < 0.90, root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) value < 0.08 (27, 28), and standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) value < 0.08 (29) were considered as acceptable model fit. An RMSEA value > 1 was considered as rejectable model fit. The EFA was conducted utilizing the principal component analysis with Promax rotation. The criterion for retaining the items was having item-loading ≥ 0.3. The criterion for selecting the factors was the screen test (30). The EFA was carried out with values one higher and one lower than the ones proposed by the scree plot, and the values were subsequently compared. A factor structure, including the highest factor loads with the lowest cross-loadings (an item factor load > 0.32 in 2 or more factors) and having at least 3 items in each factor, was determined as the final factor structure. The factors were named based on their items with the highest factor loading (6). Convergent validity was assessed by examining the relationship between the items and the proposed factor. Discriminant validity was assessed by examining the possibility of cross-loadings and inter-correlations between the factors ≥ 0.7. The predictive validity of the scale was evaluated by the correlation between the procrastination scores and the students’ average scores in the previous semester. The t-test was used to compare the procrastination scores between the male and female students as well as between those who were single and the ones who were married.
Ethical issues in connection with the current study were completely observed in that not only was permission to use the procrastination scale obtained from the author but also the participants were informed that their participation was voluntary, all their information would be kept confidential, and they could refuse to fill out the questionnaire even after receiving the questionnaire. The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences (approval # 93.49).
This cross-sectional study was conducted on 423 students of Sabzevar university of medical sciences. Twenty-three questionnaires were excluded due to incompleteness. The mean age of the students was 20.6 ± 2.1 years. The characteristics of the participants are depicted in Table 1. The score of the first 2 items of all the 6 domains of the first part of the instrument were added up in order to create the procrastination score. The mean procrastination score was 35.75 ± 6.65 (ranging from 13 to 57). The results revealed that 34.8%, 37.1%, 49.9%, 13.8%, 27.6%, and 44.4% of the participants procrastinated most of the time or always in the first to sixth domains of the scale, correspondingly.
Study Sample Characteristics and the Means of the Procrastination Score a,b
Reliability was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. The reliability of the WHO-5 scales was 0.887. The reliability of the first and second parts of the PASS was 0.781 and 0.861, respectively (Table 2).
4.2. Concurrent Validity
The concurrent validity of the scale was assessed through the correlation of the procrastination scale and the WHO-5 well-being index. There were weak and negative correlations between the academic procrastination scores and the WHO-5 (r = -0.195, P <0.001).
4.3. Predictive Validity
Based on the assumption that the procrastinators would achieve lower academic scores, we assessed the predictive validity of the academic procrastination scale by calculating the correlation between the academic procrastination scores and the students’ average scores in the previous semester. There was a weak and negative correlation between the procrastination scores and the students’ average scores (r = -0.131, P = 0.02).
4.4. Known Group Comparison
Based on the assumption that the students who were married would procrastinate more than those who were single because they were busy, we compared the procrastination score of the 2 groups. There was a significant difference between the 2 groups, with the married students having’ higher procrastination scores (P = 0.04).
4.5. Results of Factorial Analyses
Construct validity was assessed using the CFA and EFA. First, a CFA was conducted on the first part of the scale (18 items). The weak fit indices indicated that the proposed model did not fit our data (RMSEA = 0.11, CFI = 0.8, χ2/df = 6). The sample was split into 2 equal halves and an EFA was carried out on 18 items of the scale on 200 cases to find a new model. According to the scree plot, 4 factors were considered. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sample adequacy was 0.728, and the Bartlett test of sphericity was significant (χ2 = 2130, P < 0.001). There were 4 factors with eigenvalue > 1, which jointly explained 53.2% of variances: 1) willingness to decrease procrastination, 2) frequency of procrastination, 3) causing a problem in the second 3 domains of procrastination, and 4) causing a problem in the first 3 domains of procrastination. The items within each factor were highly correlated, which was evidence of convergent validity. Although there were 4 items which loaded on 2 factors (loading on the second factor > 0.32), there were gaps > 0.2 between primary and cross loading. The correlations between the factors did not exceed 0.7, denoting discriminant validity (Table 3). Subsequently, a CFA was performed on the other half of the sample to confirm the new model (Figure 1). The results showed that the new model was marginally acceptable (RMSEA = 0.098, SRMR = 0.076, χ2/df = 4.8, CFI = 0.83, Hoetler’s N index = 76).
Descriptive Statistics and Reliability of the Procrastination Scale Factors
Factor Correlation Matrix Results for Discriminant Validity
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) on 18 Items
The second part of the scale (28 items) deals with the reasons for procrastination. Since the author (3) managed to find only 2 factors via the EFA, namely fear of failure and task aversion, which covered only 8 items, we split the sample into 2 equal halves and conducted an EFA on the 28 items of the scale on 200 cases to identify a new factorial model. The scree plot found 4 factors. Since there was inconsistency between the number of the factors that the author found and the number of the factors that we found, we instructed the software to extract 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 factors separately. The results of the EFA on the 28 items revealed that choosing the 4 factors yielded better results in terms of having the highest number of items with factor loads > 0.5 and the lowest number of items with cross-loading. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sample adequacy was 0.855, and the Bartlett’ test of sphericity was significant (χ2 = 2938, P < 0.001). The 4 factors altogether explained 42.62% of variances (Table 4). The correlations between the factors did not exceed 0.7, which was evidence of discriminant validity (Table 3). There were 5 items with cross-loading (Items 38, 25, 27, 23, and 39). Subsequently, a CFA was performed on the other half of the sample to confirm the new model (Figure 2). The results showed that the new model was acceptable (RMSEA = 0.07, SRMR =0.07, χ2/df = 2.8, incremental fit index [IFI] =0.90, CFI =0.90, Hoetler’s N index = 115).
Results of the Exploratory Factor Analysis on the 28 Items of the Second Part of the Scale
CFA on 28 Items
In the present study, we translated the PASS into Farsi and assessed its reliability and validity in a sample of Iranian medical students. The results indicated that the Farsi version of the PASS was a reliable and valid instrument for assessing academic procrastination. The content validity process did not lead to any item exclusion, but 2 items were added and some items were replaced with proper idiomatic substitutes in order that they would be congruent with our culture.
The reliability of the first (0.78) and second part (0.86) of the scale was acceptable. Onwuegbuzie found reliability of 0.82 for the first and 0.89 for the second part of the scale (31).
Concurrent validity was assessed through the correlation between the scores of procrastination and the WHO-5. As the WHO-5 differed from the procrastination scale in nature, the weak and negative correlation coefficient observed may be satisfactory. In Solomon’s study, task aversion was allied with depression and low confidence. She also found a weak correlation (r =0.13) between the Spielberger trait anxiety scale and the PASS ‘(3).
The predictive validity of the procrastination scale was confirmed by the negative correlation (r = -0.131) between the scores of procrastination and the students’ average score. We found no significant difference in academic procrastination vis-à-vis gender, which chimes in with previous studies in Turkey and India (15, 32).
The results of the CFA showed that the first and second factors of the first part of the scale were similar to the factors found in some previous studies (3, 22). In the second part of the scale, the CFA confirmed 4 factors. In the original PASS, the results of the factor analysis yielded 2 main factors: fear of failure and task aversion (3). Ozer also found 4 factors: fear of failure, risk taking, laziness, and rebellion against control (22).
In our study, the frequency of procrastination was highest in the regular reading assignment domain. In studying for exams, the highest rates were found in relation to causing a problem and willingness to decrease procrastination. In Solomon’s study, more than 50% of the students claimed that they were willing to decrease their procrastination in reading assignments, studying for exams, and writing term papers (3).
In this study, we translated the PASS into Farsi and validated it. Because the instrument has been validated in only a few cultures, further studies are required to confirm the factorial structure of the scale. We did not exclude 5 cross-loaded items on the grounds that in the context of the cultural adaptation of an instrument, dropping a cross-loaded item would rather weaken the analysis. In addition, there were theoretical reasons for retaining the cross-loaded items. Hence, we would recommend that in future surveys in Iran, the factorial structure of the scale be reassessed.
5.1. Limitations and Strength
The current study has some limitations. First, it was not possible to assess, measure, and control the precision of the students’ responses. Second, the probability of self-censoring might have affected the results. Although we asked the respondents not to disclose their identities, 20% of them failed to expose their mean scores of the previous term exams. The last limitation was the high number of the items of the instruments, which is a common problem in the instrument adaptation process. The major strength of the study is its sample size. Given 10 subjects per item, our sample size would be 280. Moreover, the fact that the scale provided a scenario about procrastination may have prevented recall bias.
Overall, the Farsi version of the PASS is a valid and reliable instrument to measure academic procrastination. Be that as it may, the construct validity of the scale should be assessed in future studies. Academic procrastination was prevalent among the medical students of Sabzevar university of medical sciences, which calls for appropriate measures and interventions.
The authors would like to thanks Dr, Hashemian who invited the experts to the pannel and Dr, Mojadadi who actively helped us in cultural adaptations of the instrument.
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