What’s the Right Amount of Homework?
Homework, in the opinion of many teachers and parents, helps children improve their study abilities and reinforce information gained in class. Others believe that homework is distracting and unneeded, and that it contributes to burnout and discourages children from attending school. The topic is more subtle and intricate than most people realise, as decades of study has demonstrated: homework is useful, but only to a certain extent. Students in senior school reap the most benefits, while younger children receive far less assistance.
The National PTA and the National Education Association promote the “10-minute homework guideline,” which calls for students to complete 10 minutes of homework per grade level each night. The fact remains, however, that the quality of the homework provided and the extent to which it satisfies students’ requirements, not the quantity of time spent on it, are the most important considerations for many instructors and parents.
The recommendation does not take into consideration the fact that students may need to spend more—or less—time on tasks than specified. Teachers can make adjustments in class to help difficult students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as long to complete—often for reasons that are out of their control. And homework has the potential to expand the achievement gap, putting children from low-income families and those with learning difficulties at a competitive disadvantage.
Nonetheless, the 10-minute recommendation is beneficial in setting a limit because when children spend an excessive amount of time on homework, there are genuine consequences to take into account.
SMALL BENEFITS FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS
When young children enter school, the emphasis should be on instilling a lifelong love of learning in them, and assigning an excessive amount of homework can work against this purpose. Furthermore, because young kids typically lack the study abilities necessary to reap the full benefits of homework, it may be a waste of time (Cooper, 1989; Cooper et al., 2006; Marzano & Pickering, 2007). An even more successful activity, especially if parents are participating, may be evening reading sessions. Les avantages de la lecture sont évidents: If students are not proficient readers by the end of third grade, they have a lower chance of succeeding academically and completing their high school education (Fiester, 2013).
For Jacqueline Fiorentino, a second-grade teacher, the tiny benefits of homework did not exceed the potential negative consequences of turning young children against school at a young age. As a result, she experimented with removing forced homework from the curriculum. According to Fiorentino, “something unexpected happened: they began to do more work at home.” “This amazing group of 8-year-olds used their newly discovered leisure time to investigate issues and topics that were of interest to them,” says the author. She encouraged her students to read at home and gave them the option of doing optional homework to assist them enhance their classroom learning and review subjects.
Students in the middle school level will receive moderate benefits.
Students benefit more from homework as they mature and develop the study skills necessary to dive deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—and as they gain more experience in the classroom. Research has shown that nightly assignments can assist students prepare for intellectual work, and research has shown that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school pupils (Cooper et al., 2006). Recent research has also revealed that online math homework, which can be customised to meet the needs of individual pupils, can considerably improve exam performance on standardised tests (Roschelle et al., 2016).
There are risks associated with assigning too much responsibility, however: Students’ math and science test scores began to decline when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, according to a study published in 2015. Ferrández-Alonso, Suárez-Lvarez, and Muiz (2015) discovered that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline. Students’ motivation and concentration can be drained if they exceed the highest limit. It is recommended by the researchers that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, but should not be so tough that it deters students from trying.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitious tasks and provide homework “with the goal of fostering work habits and supporting independent, self-directed learning,” according to the American Association of School Administrators.
MODERATE BENEFITS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS
In other words, it is the quality of the homework rather than the quantity that is important. After stepping back and asking themselves these five questions, Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, proposes that teachers take a step back and ask themselves:The Results of the Research Have Been Released
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There are more benefits for high school students, but there are also risks.
Student independence should have been established by the time they reach high school, thus homework can be beneficial at this stage of the educational process, provided that it is not excessive or burdensome (Cooper et al., 2006; Marzano & Pickering, 2007). When students spend an excessive amount of time on homework (more than two hours each night), they deprive themselves of valuable time that could be spent resting or spending time with family and friends. According to a 2013 study, high school students who are assigned an excessive amount of homework can suffer from major mental and physical health concerns, ranging from elevated stress levels to sleep deprivation (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013).
At the high school level, homework should always be related to the lesson and be possible without the need for assistance. In addition, feedback should be clear and explicit.
Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunity to do their homework at home, and that incomplete assignments may not be a real representation of their learning, but rather a result of challenges that they are experiencing outside of the school environment. There are a variety of factors that can make it difficult for them, including a lack of a quiet room at home, a lack of resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014). In such instances, assigning poor homework grades may be considered unfair.
Because the amounts of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of the amount of homework that other teachers are assigning to their students. It may seem acceptable to assign 30 minutes of homework every day for six classes, but that’s three hours of homework per week, which is significantly more than is reasonable even for a high school senior. The psychologist Maurice Elias believes this is a common blunder: individual teachers set assignment policies that, when taken together, can be overwhelming to kids. Teacher collaboration is encouraged to design a school-wide homework policy, which should be a major focus of back-to-school night and the first round of parent-teacher conferences throughout the school year, according to Mr. Smith.
MORE BENEFITS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, BUT RISKS AS WELL
Homework can be an extremely effective strategy for encouraging parents to get more active in their children’s education (Walker et al., 2004). Additionally, it can provide valuable insights into a child’s talents and interests, while also encouraging conversations regarding a child’s school life. If a parent has favourable attitudes regarding homework, their children are more likely to have positive attitudes toward homework as well, resulting in greater academic achievement.
In addition, parents may be overbearing, placing an excessive amount of stress on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015). Students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough room and liberty to complete their assignments, so parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017). As a result, while homework can motivate parents to become more involved with their children, it is critical that it not become a source of contention.