One's perspective is one's reality.  This means that how an individual perceives something is how they assume it really is. We are all greatly influenced by our perspective and decisions based upon this belief influence choices of behaviour. Perspective can mean how individuals see, think about or view a situation but anyone who has studied art – even briefly – understands that the term 'perspective' has a specific meaning in relation to art.  Perspective is greatly influenced by distance.pngdistance.  Items that are seen in the distance appear smaller; whereas items that are closer to the viewer appear much larger.  Changes in distance between the person viewing something influences perspective and can alter the apparent size of an item.

The same applies to various assessment tasks, whether these are assignments, projects, tests or exams. When an assessment is announced, it can appear very small and possibly insignificant if the date on which an assignment is due or an examination is expected to occur, appears to be a long way in the future. Perspective makes things in the distance appear much smaller; however as the date approaches, perspective changes, the assessment looms and the encroaching task appears much larger.Stressed.png

Perspective can be reversed in a couple of different ways.  As a due date for an assessment task approaches, discomfort tends to increase – especially if preparation for the task has not progressed sufficiently, considering the reduced time that remains for the task to be completed.  As anxiety increases, a natural survival instinct is to reduce this internal discomfort. One of the ways this can be done is to back away from the task which prompts this uncomfortable feeling.  A pattern of procrastination is rapidly established when approaching a task (shown by a horizontal line) precedes an increase in emotional arousal (shown by a vertical line placed at the end of the horizontal line) and is quickly reversed by retreating from the discomfort (shown by a diagonal line leading back to the beginning of the initial approach line). Repeating this triangular pattern: approach; arousal; retreat; increases emotional arousal and strongly reinforces the pattern known as procrastination, over time. Arousal, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by the task increases as the due date nears and the time for completion is significantly reduced.

Another (more effective) way of reducing perspective is to begin the task early and to gradually work to reduce the size of the task as the due date approaches. This has the impact of gradually reducing perspective, so the size of the task appears and actually becomes smaller as the due date approaches. 

To Do.PNGInstead of the task appearing larger and avoidance (i.e. procrastination) becoming the only way to reverse the emotional arousal that inevitably occurs when there is insufficient time to complete a task, perspective can also be reversed by starting early and 'chipping away' at a task to gradually reduce its size as the due date approaches.  One's perspective is one's reality; however there are different approaches that can be used to change or influence one's perspective.  Reversing perspective, by gradually approaching the task (rather than retreating from it) to reduce the size and the associated emotional arousal as the due date approaches, can be an effective strategy for students.

© Michele Juratowitch                                            

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Last reviewed 27 August 2020
Last updated 27 August 2020