Homework - What is it? Does it work? & How much?


Homework - What is it? Does it work? & How much?

Homework is a rite of passage for children, parents and teachers.

Children must dutifully do it, parents must dutifully check to ensure the homework is done; and teachers must dutifully mark it

But should children be doing homework? What is the purpose of homework? And how long should children spend doing homework?

So Does Homework Work?

The debate about homework seem to relate to four key areas:

  1.       time management skills, responsibility and study habits (Warton, 2001 & Bempechat, 2004, Xu & Yuan, 2003);
  2.       better academic achievements (Cooper, 1989; Corno & Xu, 2004);
  3.       causing pupils stress (Galloway, Conner & Pope, 2013); and
  4.       contributing to social inequality (such as Marilyn Achiron, OECD 2014)

The research on whether homework works does indicate that homework leads to better academic achievements (Cooper, Robinson, Patall, 2006), but it is an area of some debate – some argue that socio-economic reasons account for the differences in academic outcomes -.

Where there seems to be less of a debate is that parental involvement makes a difference in their children’s cognitive and social development (Schenider et al. in Dumont, Istance and Benavides, 2010, Patall, Cooper and Robinson, 2008).

Galloway, Conner & Pope, 2013:

“Families can be instrumental in developing the values and attitudes that encourage student engagement, motivation and success with learning. For instance, in helping with homework parents not only reinforce lessons and concepts learned in school, but also demonstrate attitudes and behaviours associated with success in school (Desforges, 2003; Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1995).”

So it seems clear that homework may be isn’t the determining factor in academic achievements but parental engagement is key.

What is the purpose of homework?

Homework can be for the purposes of:

  1.       completing work started in class;
  2.      practicing materials covered in class;
  3.       preparing for a next lesson (potentially in a Flipped Classroom context);
  4.      extending knowledge learned in class to other areas; and
  5.      aggregating knowledge learned in classes into one task (e.g. as a research project).

What research is clear about is that for homework to have an impact the work must have a meaning (Cooper et al., 2006 Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C. and Patall, E. A. 2006). In practice, pupils must know why they are doing a piece of work as part of their homework and what they will learn or consolidate.

There have been suggestions that to lower the impact on social inequality that homework should only relate to (a) completing work started in class.

(b) Practicing materials covered in class is a traditional view of the core of homework. While this work sounds repetitive, there are a lot of gamified solutions that increase engagement with these tasks (see www.emile-education.com ).

The Flipped Classroom concept advocated by many (including Bill Gates) is an extreme example of pupils preparing for their next class (c). A Flipped Classroom is where pupils encounter their next topic at home and then does their “homework” in class with a teacher present to help. This moves the teacher’s role from presenter to helper. Flipped Classrooms currently rely on technology to deliver the new topic generally by video. (Sometimes the term Blended Learning is used rather than a Flipped Classroom, but Blended Learning typically relates to using digital and traditional resources irrespective of location.)

Fundamentally, homework needs to be specific and targeted and pupils must understand the relevance.

And how long should children spend doing homework?

In Finland, so often looked to as a beacon of educational reform, students do not start formal schooling until seven years of age and are assigned virtually no homework (15-year olds doing an average of 2.8 hours per week[1]).

In Shanghai- China, the world leaders in education according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 15-year olds do an average of 13.8 hours a week.

So what is right?

Research indicates that the effect of homework plateaus at about 2 hr per night for high school students. Beyond 2 hr, homework may have detrimental achievement effects, leading to suggest somewhere between 90 min and 2.5 hr per night as optimal in high school (Cooper, 2008, Cooper, H. 2008. Homework: What the research says [Research brief], Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).

How Often?

There are contradictions in the research regarding frequency of work.

Research by De Jong et al 2000 and Cooper, Lindsay, Nye and Greathouse, 1998 indicate that frequency does not relate to achievement.

However, work by Dettmarset al, 2009, looked at 40 countries and produced convincing results that daily homework assignments resulted in higher score results (also see Trautwein et al 2002, and Weinstein, 2001)

Conclusions

It seems clear that parental engagement (not homework) is the determining factor in academic achievement.

At its best homework needs to be specific and pupils must understand the relevance of the targeted learning. And the effect of homework plateaus at about 2 hr per night for high school students.

[1] OECD Study

About the Author
Author: Glen Brooke-Jones
I develop online resources for primary schools with Manchester Met University. Over 15% of the schools in the UK have purchased one or more of my resources.

Like what we do?

The Latest EdTech News To Your Inbox

Follow us:

   

   

 

Latest EdTech News To Your Inbox

 

The EdTech Tweets

EdTechReview Join us at @etr_in K12 Conference 2018 @ Bangalore as we welcome DR. SHIVANANDA C S, Principal, Global Indian Inter… https://t.co/iXtdtx1I2o
About 6 hours ago
EdTechReview EdTechReview K12 Conference 2018 @ Bangalore is only 4 Days away and we are very excited to meet and learn from… https://t.co/CORhaX7i1h
About 11 hours ago

Follow etr_in on Twitter

About ETR Community

EdTechReview (ETR) is a community of and for everyone involved in education technology to connect and collaborate both online and offline to discover, learn, utilize and share about the best ways technology can improve learning, teaching, and leading in the 21st century.

EdTechReview spreads awareness on education technology and its role in 21st century education through best research and practices of using technology in education, and by facilitating events, training, professional development, and consultation in its adoption and implementation.

 

-> Read More

Join The Community

Subscribe and Join the 80,000+ members who trust us...

Follow us on

 
Testimonials
I find every news, reviews very informative and interesting. This site is indeed a great site for both teachers and learners. Thanks to EdTech for creating such an enriching site on education. Hats off!!
- Regin Brown, Educationist and Blogger, United Kingdom


My group likes this site because it's so up-to-date and has tons of relevant articles.
- Angela Giuliano, Teacher, New Mexico


Your write ups and articles ignites the minds making them receptive to the whole new wealth of EdTech.
- Jagat Rana, Parent, India


EdTechReview has some great resources for teachers who need to get some ideas about technology in the classroom.
- Loretta Wideman,Teacher, East Africa


EdTechReview keeps educators up to date with trending tech savvy terms relative to the discipline.
- Dr. Ingrid Rizzolo,Education Professional, Curriculum and Instruction Designer, New York City Area

-> Read More

Go to Our Client List

Adobe Avaya Bettasia Bonio Campus Management CK12 CKS Evernote IBM Intel IQPC Kidzania McGraw Hill Moodle Moot USC Rossier CMR University The British School Canadian International School Pathways Ridge Valley

Subscribe to our Newsletters...