International and national studies have impressively shown that around one third of all students drop out of university.

Thereby, the dropout quota in STEM fields (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology) of between 40% and 50% is particularly high. In contrast to a by this time intensive research regarding study success and its determinants, there exists little empirical evidence concerning the causes of study dropout.


The research project is realized in cooperation with partners of the universities of Bielefeld and Bochum. It aims for a deepened examination of intrapersonal processes as well as of personal and contextual conditions that are involved in study dropout. Therefore, it is allocated within the BMBF program “Research on ‘Academic success and dropout phenomena’” to the topic area “Research Project on Causes, Extent and Consequences of Study Dropout”.

The distinctiveness of the research project is the intensive investigation of causes of study dropout within the individual study process as well as their interactions.


The research project focuses on academic procrastination, which is the irrational delay of an intended action resulting in negative consequences, such as high emotional and motivational costs as well as a decline in performance.

In so doing, students do not initiate or continue learning behavior (e.g. studying for exams, writing term papers) although they had planned it, while being aware of potential negative consequences of the delay. Procrastination has already been identified as a risk factor for reduced study success and study dropout.


The planned research project investigates personal factors (study motivation, motivational and behavioral regulatory competences, cognitive preconditions and personality) and contextual factors (subject-specific study conditions and instructional characteristics of lectures) which lead to academic procrastination.In addition, especially the interaction of personal and contextual factors and their relevance for the development of study dropout intentions are of major interest of the project.

Project information

Start date:         01.03.2017


End date:          29.02.2020


Local project responsibility: Prof. Dr. Markus Dresel



Funding:  BMBF
(Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung)


Local researcher:

  • Lisa Bäulke


Participating researchers/cooperations:

  • Dr. Carola Grunschel
  • Prof. Dr. Joachim Wirth
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlev Leutner
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung


Research associate