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Is Homework Harmful or Helpful?

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The Case Against Homework

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NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

The authors called for people to unite against homework and to lobby for an extended school day instead. These authors criticized both the quantity and quality of homework. The authors suggested that individuals and parent groups should insist that teachers reduce the amount of homework, design more valuable assignments, and avoid homework altogether over breaks and holidays.

In a third book, The Homework Myth: In this book and in a recent article in Phi Delta Kappan b , he became quite personal in his condemnation of researchers. Finally, Kohn urged teachers to involve students in deciding what homework, and how much, they should do. For example, it makes good sense to only assign homework that is beneficial to student learning instead of assigning homework as a matter of policy.

Many of those who conduct research on homework explicitly or implicitly recommend this practice. However, his misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the research sends the inaccurate message that research does not support homework.

As Figure 1 indicates, homework has decades of research supporting its effective use. Certainly, inappropriate homework may produce little or no benefit—it may even decrease student achievement.

All three of the books criticizing homework provide compelling anecdotes to this effect. Schools should strengthen their policies to ensure that teachers use homework properly. If a district or school discards homework altogether, however, it will be throwing away a powerful instructional tool.

Perhaps the most important advantage of homework is that it can enhance achievement by extending learning beyond the school day. This characteristic is important because U. A report examined the amount of time U. To drop the use of homework, then, a school or district would be obliged to identify a practice that produces a similar effect within the confines of the school day without taking away or diminishing the benefits of other academic activities—no easy accomplishment.

A better approach is to ensure that teachers use homework effectively. To enact effective homework policies, however, schools and districts must address the following issues. Although teachers across the K—12 spectrum commonly assign homework, research has produced no clear-cut consensus on the benefits of homework at the early elementary grade levels.

In his early meta-analysis, Cooper a reported the following effect sizes p. The pattern clearly indicates that homework has smaller effects at lower grade levels. Even so, Cooper b still recommended homework for elementary students because homework for young children should help them develop good study habits, foster positive attitudes toward school, and communicate to students the idea that learning takes work at home as well as at school.

The Cooper, Robinson, and Patall meta-analysis found the same pattern of stronger relationships at the secondary level but also identified a number of studies at grades 2, 3, and 4 demonstrating positive effects for homework. In The Battle over Homework , Cooper noted that homework should have different purposes at different grade levels: For students in the earliest grades , it should foster positive attitudes, habits, and character traits; permit appropriate parent involvement; and reinforce learning of simple skills introduced in class.

For students in upper elementary grades , it should play a more direct role in fostering improved school achievement. In 6th grade and beyond , it should play an important role in improving standardized test scores and grades. One of the more contentious issues in the homework debate is the amount of time students should spend on homework. The Cooper synthesis a reported that for junior high school students, the benefits increased as time increased, up to 1 to 2 hours of homework a night, and then decreased.

The Cooper, Robinson, and Patall study reported similar findings: The researchers suggested that for 12th graders the optimum amount of homework might lie between 1. Still, researchers have offered various recommendations. For example, Good and Brophy cautioned that teachers must take care not to assign too much homework. Thus, 5 to 10 minutes per subject might be appropriate for 4th graders, whereas 30 to 60 minutes might be appropriate for college-bound high school students.

Cooper, Robinson, and Patall also issued a strong warning about too much homework: Even for these oldest students, too much homework may diminish its effectiveness or even become counterproductive. He added that when required reading is included as a type of homework, the minute rule might be increased to 15 minutes.

Focusing on the amount of time students spend on homework, however, may miss the point. A significant proportion of the research on homework indicates that the positive effects of homework relate to the amount of homework that the student completes rather than the amount of time spent on homework or the amount of homework actually assigned. Thus, simply assigning homework may not produce the desired effect—in fact, ill-structured homework might even have a negative effect on student achievement.

Teachers must carefully plan and assign homework in a way that maximizes the potential for student success see Research-Based Homework Guidelines. Another question regarding homework is the extent to which schools should involve parents. Some studies have reported minimal positive effects or even negative effects for parental involvement. They recommended interactive homework in which Parents receive clear guidelines spelling out their role. Teachers do not expect parents to act as experts regarding content or to attempt to teach the content.

Parents ask questions that help students clarify and summarize what they have learned. Good and Brophy provided the following recommendations regarding parent involvement: Although research has established the overall viability of homework as a tool to enhance student achievement, for the most part the research does not provide recommendations that are specific enough to help busy practitioners.

This is the nature of research—it errs on the side of assuming that something does not work until substantial evidence establishes that it does. The research community takes a long time to formulate firm conclusions on the basis of research. Homework is a perfect example: Figure 1 includes synthesis studies that go back as far as 60 years, yet all that research translates to a handful of recommendations articulated at a very general level. In addition, research in a specific area, such as homework, sometimes contradicts research in related areas.

For example, Cooper recommended on the basis of plus years of homework research that teachers should not comment on or grade every homework assignment. Riehl pointed out the similarity between education research and medical research.

She commented, When reported in the popular media, medical research often appears as a blunt instrument, able to obliterate skeptics or opponents by the force of its evidence and arguments. Yet repeated visits to the medical journals themselves can leave a much different impression. The serious medical journals convey the sense that medical research is an ongoing conversation and quest, punctuated occasionally by important findings that can and should alter practice, but more often characterized by continuing investigations.

These investigations, taken cumulatively, can inform the work of practitioners who are building their own local knowledge bases on medical care. If relying solely on research is problematic, what are busy practitioners to do? Instead, educators should combine research-based generalizations, research from related areas, and their own professional judgment based on firsthand experience to develop specific practices and make adjustments as necessary.

Educators can develop the most effective practices by observing changes in the achievement of the students with whom they work every day. Research-Based Homework Guidelines Research provides strong evidence that, when used appropriately, homework benefits student achievement.

To make sure that homework is appropriate, teachers should follow these guidelines: Design homework to maximize the chances that students will complete it.

For example, ensure that homework is at the appropriate level of difficulty. Students should be able to complete homework assignments independently with relatively high success rates, but they should still find the assignments challenging enough to be interesting. When mom and dad help: Student reflections on parent involvement with homework.

Journal of Research and Development in Education, 31 3 , — The instructional effects of feedback in test-like events. Review of Educational Research, 61 2 , — The case against homework: People who spend more than 3 hours seems more like play work than homework. SO people who are complaining parents need to consider to teach the kids how to manage their time and use it efficiently.

Teach them how to focus and how not to be distracted. My parents taught me how to focus on homework and now homework only takes about 15 minutes. So yea do not complain if you have not tried doing these stuff yet. My first grade grandson has 2 hours of homework per night, as he had in kindergarten. As a seasoned teacher, I feel this is highly inappropriate. His parents feel this is stressing him and not giving him time to unwind and just be a kid.

The comments on this article are sad. I am a kid and I know homework is a necessity. The studies proving that there is a positive correlation between homework and achievements is overwhelming. People need to stop hating homework and start working on it especially when it is helping THEM.

Doing well in school is more important than sports. You can exercise any time you want and the chances of getting into a college due to a sports scholarship is very low. Better to focus on your educacion. Because of this, it would result in lower grades and more stress. Would you rather have your student failing or have them ready to learn?

I pesonaly have too much homework and it is terrible, my math teacher gives us home work every day and it takes forever. Does this ten minute rule include all work such as reading, math facts, spelling, and special project work? I am doing research for the Educators Rising competition.

I am writing a Creative Lecture on student voice and this has definitely helped me in amazing ways. Send This article to: Enter the e-mail address of the recipient. Multiple addresses need to be separated by commas characters max. Add your message optional: Enter your e-mail address required: NEA respects your privacy! Your e-mail address, and that of your recipient, will be used only in the case of transmission errors and to let the recipient know who sent the story.

The information will not be used for any other purpose. Your Email has been sent. Click here to return to the article. Great Public Schools for Every Student. What does the current research state? This helped so much for a project im doing. This really helped me write a paper and speech for Debate Club. Recommend it to everyone. Add Your Comment Name.

The Case for Homework

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Research doesn't have all the answers, but a review of some existing data yields some helpful observations and guidance. How Much Homework Do Students Do? Survey data and anecdotal evidence show that some students spend hours nightly doing homework.

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A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time.

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It’s important to remember that some people object to homework for reasons that aren’t related to the dispute about whether research might show that homework provides academic benefits. Research suggests that while homework can be an effective learning tool, assigning too much can lower student performance and interfere with other important activities.

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What research says about the value of homework: At a glance Whether homework helps students—and how much homework is appropriate—has been debated for many years. Homework has been in the headlines again recently and continues to be a topic of controversy, with claims that students and families are suffering under the burden of huge amounts. The National PTA recommends 10–20 minutes of homework per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter (i.e., 20 minutes for .