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Homework, Academic Achievement, and How Much is Too Much?

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What is the Right Amount of Homework to Make it a Positive, Rather than a Negative Experience?

I've written here and elsewhere about the negative impact of excessive, meaningless, or otherwise poorly thought-out homework, so I welcomed this guest post with a balanced look at the up-side of this fundamental educational construct. – KW

There has always been a debate among the teachers and parents about homework. The most common reason could be the amount of homework kids are were given. So what is the right amount of homework?

Homework is basically a set of tasks given to students by their teachers which should be done outside the classroom. Homework can be a great way to enhance learning and play an important role in achieving better academic results.

Homework usually falls into one of the 3 categories: preparation, practice and extension. It usually depends on the level of the grade.

A student should be given homework according to the requirement of the next class or lesson. Homework done by the student everyday can help them follow their studies more efficiently and will bring stability to academics. Parents should be aware of the students study-life balance as other activities are also important.

According to some educational research, homework is often associated with greater academic achievement.

1. It improves the student’s memory and thinking skills.

When a student gets homework from his or her teacher, the student tries to get it done in a most effective way to get good grades. This initiative can help students improve memory when they put efforts to get it done. This effort also benefits thinking skills because the student is forced to think on his own without much external help. In 35 studies, 77% of results shows that there is a positive linkage between homework and achievement.

2. Doing homework helps the students to learn how to manage time.

As most of homework should be done in a day or two deadline, a student usually is time bounded which lets requires him/her to manage time in such a way where activities other than homework should be done as well. Homework lets the student learn how to set his priorities according to the importance of work. For example: cleaning up their rooms, spending time with family, etc.

3. It helps the students to take more responsibility.

When a student is assigned some homework, he or she is expected to do the work on his own which creates a responsibility for the student to complete it without much external help. Such responsibility will let the student not only help tackle academic issues in future but also other external issues arising later. According to Harris Cooper 2006-meta analysis, homework improves study habits, attitude towards school and self-discipline. But a student should not be burdened rather he should be given some homework help if needed. Sometimes help brings more learning than doing it alone.

4. Homework helps the students to seek extra knowledge about the subject.

When a student is assigned some work related to the subject for example; an assignment or a paper to write on, the student tries to do his best to get good grades. In his journey of completing the assignment, he does extensive research over which helps him learn a lot more than he does in a classroom.

5. Homework leads a student towards independency over studying.

Homework is one of the best ways to teach a student independence. The teacher expects the student to do the work alone but some homework help is allowed. In this course of action, the student learns to be independent for doing his work. This effect is also stated in Harris cooper research that homework leads to inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills by the students.

The Right Amount of Homework?

As we learnt the good things about doing the homework, it is also important to know the appropriate homework amount is good for a student. So what can actually define the amount of homework and for how much duration should a student spend everyday to keep up with the studies?

A poll conducted found that about 58% of parents think that the homework given is the right amount to the children. 23% of parents thought it was too little and about 19% of parents thought it was too much.

There has always been a debate for the answer to how much homework should be given. Various survey data and evidences show that a lot of students spend hours at night to complete their homework. Such burden is an exception rather than a norm. However, according to a research done by the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation this may not be the case as from past 50 years majority of the U.S. students spend less than an hour in a whole day to do their homework regardless of the grade level. Also, the research shows that from past 20 years the homework has increased only in the lower grades which also showed a neutral effect in the academic achievements of the student.

According to the researcher Harris cooper, the general guidelines which fall in line with of National PTA recommendations:

  • 10-20 minutes per night for the first graders.
  • Additional 10 minutes for every grade thereafter i.e. 20 minutes for second grade, 30 minutes for third grade.
  • Timings can change according the homework given by the teacher.

Too much of everything is bad. This quote relates to a student’s homework as well. Too much homework can cause harm to student in various ways. According to Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at Stanford University's School of Education and the director of Challenge Success, “Any student doing more than 3 ½ hours homework every night is exposed to risk for greater levels of stress. Also, exposed to poor mental and physical health.”

After various studies done by many researchers and institutions, it is concluded that homework is beneficial for achievement of academic success. Yet over-burdening students with homework should be avoided. When required, homework help can be leveraged student for better results. Homework has positive and even negative effects on the student. It can bring out the best in a student, or the worst. Homework has a positive influence on a student’s academics when constructed with the right norms.

 

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