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Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research

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The Case Against Homework

The Case for Homework
NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education
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Third, when homework is related to test scores, the connection tends to be strongest — or, actually, least tenuous — with math. Thousands of students are asked one question — How much time do you spend on homework? When kids in these two similar datasets were asked how much time they spent on math homework each day, those in the NELS study said 37 minutes, whereas those in the ELS study said 60 minutes.

They just move right along — even though those estimates raise troubling questions about the whole project, and about all homework studies that are based on self-report. Which number is more accurate? Or are both of them way off? And because all the conclusions are tied to that number, all the conclusions may be completely invalid.

Did doing it make any difference? The Maltese et al. Was there a correlation between the amount of homework that high school students reported doing and their scores on standardized math and science tests? Is that really worth the frustration, exhaustion, family conflict, loss of time for other activities, and potential diminution of interest in learning? But it was grades, not tests, that Maltese and his colleagues really cared about. And the result of this fine-tuned investigation?

This result clearly caught the researchers off-guard. Frankly, it surprised me, too. Even if homework were a complete waste of time, how could it not be positively related to course grades? Even in high school. The study zeroed in on specific course grades, which represents a methodological improvement, and the moral may be: Thus, a headline that reads "Study finds homework boosts achievement" can be translated as "A relentless regimen of after-school drill-and-skill can raise scores a wee bit on tests of rote learning.

But it was grades, not tests, that Maltese and his colleagues really cared about. They were proud of having looked at transcript data in order to figure out "the exact grade a student received in each class [that he or she] completed" so they could compare that to how much homework the student did. And the result of this fine-tuned investigation? There was no relationship whatsoever between time spent on homework and course grade, and "no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.

This result clearly caught the researchers off-guard. Frankly, it surprised me, too. When you measure "achievement" in terms of grades, you expect to see a positive result -- not because homework is academically beneficial but because the same teacher who gives the assignments evaluates the students who complete them, and the final grade is often based at least partly on whether, and to what extent, students did the homework.

Even if homework were a complete waste of time, how could it not be positively related to course grades? Even in high school. The study zeroed in on specific course grades, which represents a methodological improvement, and the moral may be: The better the research, the less likely one is to find any benefits from homework.

Maltese and his colleagues did their best to reframe these results to minimize the stunning implications. Those open to evidence, however, have been presented this Fall with yet another finding that fails to find any meaningful benefit even when the study is set up to give homework every benefit of the doubt.

They argue that a six hours a day of academics are enough, and kids should have the chance after school to explore other interests and develop in other ways -- or be able simply to relax in the same way that most adults like to relax after work; and b the decision about what kids do during family time should be made by families, not schools.

Cool and Timothy Z. Keith, "Testing a Model of School Learning: Other research has found little or no correlation between how much homework students report doing and how much homework their parents say they do.

To put it the other way around, studies finding the biggest effect are those that capture less of what goes on in the real world by virtue of being so brief. Even the title of their article reflects this: He had contributed earlier to another study whose results similarly ended up raising questions about the value of homework. Students enrolled in college physics courses were surveyed to determine whether any features of their high school physics courses were now of use to them.

At first a very small relationship was found between the amount of homework that students had had in high school and how well they were currently faring.


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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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Is homework harmful or helpful? Education experts and parents weigh in. Topics To Do Connect. Edit Module “Homework is important because it’s an opportunity for students to review materials that are covered in the classroom. Kohn points out that no research has ever found any advantage to assigning homework — of any kind or in any.

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Research suggests that while homework can be an effective learning tool, assigning too much can lower student performance and interfere with other important activities. Help Customer Service eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other.

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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. Even when homework is helpful, there can be too much of a good thing. "There is a limit to how much kids can benefit from home study," Cooper says. He agrees with an oft-cited rule of thumb that students should do no more than 10 minutes a night per grade level — from about 10 minutes in first grade up to a maximum of about two hours in high.