What are the advantages and disadvantages of homework? How much homework should be assigned? How important is the quality of the assignments? Does homework increase student achievement? These questions represent the ongoing debate surrounding homework for the past two decades.
Although homework has academic and non-academic advantages and disadvantages, the majority of studies conducted reveal inconclusive evidence that assigning homework increases student achievement. Most studies show positive effects for certain students, others suggest no effects, and some even suggest negative effects according to research by Alfie Kohn , an independent scholar Educators assign homework for different reasons and purposes. Homework is assigned either as practice , preparation , extension , or integration of grade-level skills and concepts.
Practice homework promotes retention and automaticity of the concept , skill, and content taught. Examples include practicing multiplication facts or writing simple sentences in order to commit theses skills and concepts to long-term memory.
However, research suggests that homework is less effective if it is used to teach new or complex skills. For these types of assignments, students typically become stressed which can create a negative perspective towards learning and school.
For instance, students may use the concept of area and perimeter to build a flowerbed. Homework also serves other purposes not directly related to instruction. Homework can help establish communication between parents and children; it can be used as a form of discipline; and it can inform parents about school topics and activities.
The homework debate often focuses on how and why homework affects student learning and achievement. Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology, and colleagues found there are both positive and negative consequences of homework. Homework provides practice with content, concepts, and skills taught at school by the teacher.
It can foster retention and understanding of the academic content. Some studies suggest that homework correlates with student achievement. Cooper, Robinson, and Patall discovered a positive correlation between the amount of the homework students do and their achievement at the secondary level.
Some studies also suggest that assigning homework improves the achievement of low-performing students and students in low-performing schools. However, the correlation between student achievement and homework given to elementary students is inconclusive.
Most research only supports homework for middle and high school students Cooper a; Kohn There are also non-academic reasons for assigning homework.
The growing concern and debate over homework has prompted some school districts to re-evaluate their policies. When the 15,student Pleasanton Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area received complaints from parents, particularly those of middle-school students, it dusted off its largely ignored homework policy, and administrators, teachers and parents worked for more than a year to change it.
The new policy that resulted has been in place for a year now; it strongly discourages weekend and holiday homework for elementary-school students and limits homework assignments for middle- and high-school students to five nights a week, though they can choose to do it over the weekend.
The policy also encourages better coordination of assignments and tests among teachers at the middle- and high-school levels and sets time guidelines per grade — following the minute rule in elementary school, 15 minutes per class period in middle school or up to one hour and 45 minutes a night and 20 minutes per class period in high school or up to two hours a night. Is it necessary and is it worthwhile? Still, she says, the time limits agreed upon are more than she would have liked, and more than she thinks the research supports.
Beyond Pleasanton, school districts from Swampscott, Mass. Some have scrapped traditional homework assignments for free reading or optional assignments. A meaningful homework assignment is open to interpretation, by teachers, parents and students. If you believe that your child is receiving more homework than he can reasonably handle, talk to his teacher. If your child is consistently struggling and you find yourself locked in nightly homework battles, her teacher may be willing to make accommodations, from setting time limits for at-home assignments to reducing the workload.
Meantime, Challenge Success, a project of the Stanford University School of Education that researches and advocates for positive change in the education system, offers these tips to parents trying to guide their kids through nightly homework assignments:. Act as cheerleaders, not homework police. Provide necessary supplies and express interest in the content, but let the teacher intervene if the child regularly fails to finish homework or do it correctly.
Work with your child to determine a healthy schedule of activities that allows for homework, studying, adequate sleep and play. Recognize that children learn in different ways and have different work styles. Some kids can get it done all at once; others need breaks. I sent many notes home, called home and tried to leave messages. I grew up in an environment where receiving and doing homework was part of a daily routine.
Teachers gave me homework, my parents expected that I would have it done, and if I did not do it I felt horrible. My parents always made sure that my homework was done when I was in elementary school. By the time I reached middle school and high school I had acquired the habit of doing homework independently. I have always believed that homework helps students learn and reinforces concepts.
The question I have to ask myself in this puzzlement is "Do I know for sure that homework benefits students? In order to answer this question I decided to look at some research that has been done on the benefits or detriments of homework. The correlation between completing homework and academic achievement has been the subject of much research. Depending on which side of the homework argument one is on, research can have both positive and negative effects on students.
According to Cooper some positive academic effects of homework include retention and understanding of material, improved study skills, improved attitudes toward school.
Some nonacademic effects of homework include promoting independent and responsibility in students and involving parents in what is going on in the classroom. Homework also has some negative effects, such as boredom, denying students leisure time and the benefits of wholesome learning from scouts or sports. Homework can lead to cheating and can emphasize the disparity between the homes of low-income and middle class students.
Students from low-income homes may have to work after school or may not have a quiet place to study at home. When looking at 50 studies done on homework and student achievement, Cooper found that homework had little or no effect on student achievement at the elementary level.
After reading some research on the effects of homework on academic achievement I had to seriously consider how my beliefs fit into this.
I realized that giving homework benefited me as the teacher. These benefits matched the benefits teachers expressed having in the Homework Attitude and Behaviour Inventory for Teachers Weisenthal et al. Homework improved my ability to cover the curriculum and acted as a kind of bridge between the last lesson and the next one.
Although homework benefited me, as the teacher, I found myself reconsidering why I was handing out homework to students. According to Kralovec and Buell , elementary school students show no significant academic gain from doing homework.
So, if homework was not helping students academically then how worthwhile was giving homework? I found out that the other two third grade teachers, both males, at my school were not giving as much homework as I was. One teacher usually gave only spelling and reading as homework.
Every once in a while he would give math homework. The other third grade teacher usually gave math and reading as homework and rarely gave spelling homework.
I, on the other hand, gave math, spelling, and reading as homework. According to Weisenthal et al. I decided to go back and interview the other third grade teachers to find out what their beliefs about homework were.
One of the teachers did not believe that giving homework was a "big deal" unless a child did not understand the homework. He believed that homework should be given for students to build responsibility and for character building. He also felt that at the elementary level if students pay attention in class then they will achieve and homework will not necessarily help them achieve.
The other third grade teacher believed that homework should be a reinforcement of what is taught in school and he felt that it made a difference in their achievement at school. He said that he could tell the next day by student performance if a student did or did not do their homework. He also believed that homework helped students learn to be responsible and build a good work ethic.
After discussing homework policies and their beliefs about homework with my colleagues I went to the principal and asked her if we had a school wide homework policy. She referred me to the staff handbook. Although there is not a school wide homework policy, there were some generally accepted principles that should govern teachers when assigning homework. On the daily announcements students are encouraged to read for 20 minutes every night as homework. Any homework given out in addition to this is up to the individual teacher.
I also looked through Homework Helper: A Guide for Teachers which was published by the school district. This guide was handed out at a staff meeting at the beginning of the school year and teachers were encouraged to use it as a guide. Since that time homework has not been discussed with the staff. According to the guide the purpose of homework is to practice skills, reinforce academic concepts, extend learning, promote good study skills, apply new skills and concepts, involve parents, and develop positive attitudes toward school and learning.
The guide does not discuss the amount of homework to be given. Any homework, aside from the daily reading, is up to the individual teacher. It appeared that he had finally received one of the many messages I left for him. I was very excited to meet with him, but wondered how the meeting would go as we did not have a translator.
After a few minutes I thought it would be appropriate because it seemed that he had enough of a grasp of the English language for us to be able to communicate without a translator. Our meeting was short we really did need a translator. He seemed very responsive and concerned. Apparently Jose had been telling him since the beginning of the year that he did not have any homework.
He had believed Jose and did not try to contact me to confirm it. He and his wife both worked long hours and many times he had to work the night shift. Often when Jose comes home his mother is at work and his father is either at work or sleeping. His grandmother, who speaks only Spanish, is there to watch him. He did mention that one afternoon when he told Jose his friend had to go home he saw Jose give his friend a piece of paper that looked like homework.
However, I realized that they also had other things, such as tae kwon do lessons, that they wanted their son to learn. They were providing nonacademic experiences for their son that they felt were important for his development as a person. Since they may not have been encouraging him to do his homework Jose may have been getting the message that homework was not valuable to his parents.
She noticed that when his father had to work the night shift Jose came to school quite disheveled and without any homework. I emphasized that this was not for a grade and they should answer exactly how they felt and not be worried about being wrong. Some sample questions from the survey are as follows: I handed out the surveys and then read through each item and explained any of the questions that students did not understand. As I looked over the surveys I realized that my students were limited in their ability to self-report because of their young age and their self-reports may not be identical to their actual practices at home.
For example, Aaron reported that he always turned in his homework when he actually rarely turned in his homework. Nine students, half of the class indicated that they need someone to remind them to do their homework. Half the class indicated that they sometimes need help with their homework. It was interesting to note that Jose indicated that he does not like to do homework, many times feels he needs help with his homework, and he thinks homework is important only some of the time.
Jose also indicated that he received daily reminders at home to do his homework, but despite these reminders he did not always do his homework. Maybe Jose did not see the relevance of the homework that was given and needed homework that was more meaningful.
Kravolec and Buell found homework could be very disruptive of family life. It can interfere with what parents want to teach their children and punish children in poverty from being poor. Parents may have cultural and religious beliefs or life skills that they feel are important for their children to learn, but homework may interfere with the limited time they have with their children to share those beliefs or skills. Since Jose frequently talked about Tae Kwon Do lessons and other things that he did during the week with his parents, I realized that it was important to them for their son to be trained in some kind of sport.
Most agree that homework should be purposeful, and that more does not translate to better. “Busy work turns students off from learning,” says Lynn Fontana, chief academic offcer of Sylvan Learning, a national tutoring chain that provides homework help for pre-K12 students.
Books like The End of Homework, The Homework Myth, and The Case Against Homework and the film Race to Nowhere make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.
I’m unaware of any studies that have even addressed the question of whether homework enhances the depth of students’ understanding of ideas or their passion for learning. The fact that more meaningful outcomes are hard to quantify does not make test scores or . Research suggests that, with two exceptions, homework for elementary children is not beneficial and does not boost achievement levels. The first exception is in the case of a student who is struggling to complete classroom tasks. The second is when students are preparing for a test.
Sep 23, · The homework question is best answered by comparing students who are assigned homework with students assigned no homework but who are similar in other ways. The results of such studies suggest that homework can improve students' scores on . Students need to be able to complete the work at home without assistance because some students do not have an English-speaking parents or guardians to help them. In conclusion, research is inconsistent in determining if homework increases student achievement.