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Special Topic / The Case For and Against Homework

Consequences for high school students

❶I've seen a lot of idiotic comments on this page that make homework look like it actually is needed.

NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Working as hard as adults
The Case for Homework
The Case Against Homework

By , growing concern that homework interfered with other home activities sparked a reaction against it. This trend was reversed in the late s when the Soviets' launch of Sputnik led to concern that U.

By , the trend had reversed again, with some learning theorists claiming that homework could be detrimental to students' mental health. Since then, impassioned arguments for and against homework have continued to proliferate.

We now stand at an interesting intersection in the evolution of the homework debate. Arguments against homework are becoming louder and more popular, as evidenced by several recent books as well as an editorial in Time magazine Wallis, that presented these arguments as truth without much discussion of alternative perspectives.

At the same time, a number of studies have provided growing evidence of the usefulness of homework when employed effectively. A number of synthesis studies have been conducted on homework, spanning a broad range of methodologies and levels of specificity see fig. Some are quite general and mix the results from experimental studies with correlational studies. Synthesis Studies on Homework Synthesis Study. This figure describes the eight major research syntheses on the effects of homework published from to that provide the basis for the analysis in this article.

The Cooper a study included more than empirical research reports, and the Cooper, Robinson, and Patall study included about 50 empirical research reports.

The meta-analysis reviewed research dating as far back as the s; the study reviewed research from to Commenting on studies that attempted to examine the causal relationship between homework and student achievement by comparing experimental homework and control no homework groups, Cooper, Robinson, and Patall noted, With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant.

Therefore, we think it would not be imprudent, based on the evidence in hand, to conclude that doing homework causes improved academic achievement. Although the research support for homework is compelling, the case against homework is popular.

The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Kralovec and Buell , considered by many to be the first high-profile attack on homework, asserted that homework contributes to a corporate-style, competitive U.

The authors focused particularly on the harm to economically disadvantaged students, who are unintentionally penalized because their environments often make it almost impossible to complete assignments at home. The authors called for people to unite against homework and to lobby for an extended school day instead. These authors criticized both the quantity and quality of homework.

They provided evidence that too much homework harms students' health and family time, and they asserted that teachers are not well trained in how to assign homework. The authors suggested that individuals and parent groups should insist that teachers reduce the amount of homework, design more valuable assignments, and avoid homework altogether over breaks and holidays.

In a third book, The Homework Myth: In this book and in a recent article in Phi Delta Kappan b , he became quite personal in his condemnation of researchers. For example, referring to Harris Cooper, the lead author of the two leading meta-analyses on homework, Kohn noted, A careful reading of Cooper's own studies.

Finally, Kohn urged teachers to involve students in deciding what homework, and how much, they should do.

Some of Kohn's recommendations have merit. For example, it makes good sense to only assign homework that is beneficial to student learning instead of assigning homework as a matter of policy. Many of those who conduct research on homework explicitly or implicitly recommend this practice. However, his misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the research sends the inaccurate message that research does not support homework.

As Figure 1 indicates, homework has decades of research supporting its effective use. Kohn's allegations that researchers are trying to mislead practitioners and the general public are unfounded and detract from a useful debate on effective practice. Certainly, inappropriate homework may produce little or no benefit—it may even decrease student achievement.

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. Cooper and colleagues' comparison of homework with no homework indicates that the average student in a class in which appropriate homework was assigned would score 23 percentile points higher on tests of the knowledge addressed in that class than the average student in a class in which homework was not assigned.

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.

We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, 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 education leaders.

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school.

The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children.

At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework. Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Homework is more important than extracurricular activities, however we need well rounded kids and those extracurricular activities help with that. I think people who spend more than 3 hours a day are probably just fooling around too much.

People who spend more than 3 hours seems more like play work than homework. SO people who are complaining parents need to consider to teach the kids how to manage their time and use it efficiently.

Teach them how to focus and how not to be distracted. My parents taught me how to focus on homework and now homework only takes about 15 minutes. So yea do not complain if you have not tried doing these stuff yet. My first grade grandson has 2 hours of homework per night, as he had in kindergarten. As a seasoned teacher, I feel this is highly inappropriate. His parents feel this is stressing him and not giving him time to unwind and just be a kid.

It's no wonder that so many kids hate school. The comments on this article are sad. I am a kid and I know homework is a necessity. The studies proving that there is a positive correlation between homework and achievements is overwhelming. People need to stop hating homework and start working on it especially when it is helping THEM. As for people who can't find time to do homework due to sports and other activities, make time.

Doing well in school is more important than sports. You can exercise any time you want and the chances of getting into a college due to a sports scholarship is very low. Better to focus on your educacion. I am already in 7th grade, and you might be thinking "she's a kid, she doesn't want to do her homework because she's lazy" well my friend, you are wrong. Most kids can't find the time to do their homework due to sports and other activities.

Because of this, it would result in lower grades and more stress. Would you rather have your student failing or have them ready to learn? I pesonaly have too much homework and it is terrible, my math teacher gives us home work every day and it takes forever. Does this ten minute rule include all work such as reading, math facts, spelling, and special project work? I am doing research for the Educators Rising competition. I am writing a Creative Lecture on student voice and this has definitely helped me in amazing ways.

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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 .