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Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

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❶For example, Good and Brophy cautioned that teachers must take care not to assign too much homework. But it was grades, not tests, that Maltese and his colleagues really cared about.

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The worst homework assignment was all of the ones given in Statistics. The teacher assigned almost every problem of every chapter making for horribly repetitive and time-consuming work. Feeling like you were doing work simply for the sake of doing work We had to spend every last cent of the million, however we could spend it any way we liked.

Political Participation during the fall semester. Thus, the presidential election was taking place over the course of the semester. We were given a project to predict the final Electoral College result. We had to analyze polling data and research past voting records of each state. We then had to determine the main issue voters would base their decision off of, and look at that in historical context to see whether those issues lead to the election of a Democrat or Republican.

It was also an engaging assignment that forced me to pay more attention to election coverage. Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking http: And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page. Turn on desktop notifications? Share on Google Plus. The useful and the useless. The story must be told. Perspective How much would you pay for one more day, one more month with someone you love?

Periodic showers or a storm today, lower rain chances this weekend. Check your inbox for details. You might also like: However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework each night, on average. To conduct the study, researchers surveyed more than 4, students at 10 high-performing high schools in upper middle-class California communities. They also interviewed students about their views on homework.

Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor. The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms. The researchers also found that spending too much time on homework meant that students were not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills. Students were more likely to forgo activities, stop seeing friends or family, and not participate in hobbies.

Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills. Should schools screen children for mental health problems? A smaller New York University study published last year noted similar findings. That study, which appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, noted serious health effects for high schoolers, such as chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, and alcohol and drug use.

The research involved a series of interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, as well as a survey of a total of juniors from two private high schools. About half of the students said they received at least three hours of homework per night. They also faced pressure to take college-level classes and excel in activities outside of school. Many students felt they were being asked to work as hard as adults, and noted that their workload seemed inappropriate for their development level.

They reported having little time for relaxing or creative activities. More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress. The researchers expressed concern that students at high-pressure high schools can get burned out before they even get to college. 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.

Working as hard as adults

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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 .