Research About Homework

Over the last quarter-century the burden has increased most for the youngest children, for whom the evidence of positive effects isn’t just dubious; it’s nonexistent.It’s not as though most teachers decide now and then that a certain lesson really ought to continue after school is over because meaningful learning is so likely to result from such an assignment that it warrants the intrusion on family time.Homework in most schools isn’t limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important.Rather, the point of departure seems to be: “We’ve decided ahead of time that children will have to do every night (or several times a week).Whatever decisions are made should be based on fact rather than folk wisdom. Rethink standardized “homework policies.” Requiring teachers to give a certain number of minutes of homework every day, or to make assignments on the same schedule every minutes of math on Tuesdays and Thursdays) is a frank admission that homework isn’t justified by a given lesson, much less is it a response to what specific kids need at a specific time. Many parents are understandably upset with how much time their children have to spend on homework.Such policies sacrifice thoughtful instruction in order to achieve predictability, and they manage to do a disservice not only to students but, when imposed from above, to teachers as well. At a minimum, make sure that teachers aren’t exceeding district guidelines and that they aren’t chronically underestimating how long it takes students to complete the assignments.In preparation for a book on the topic, I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the research. For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school.For younger students, in fact, there isn’t even a between whether children do homework (or how much they do) and any meaningful measure of achievement.

Too many first graders are forced to clip words from magazines that begin with a given letter of the alphabet.

[For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here — including a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research and a discussion of successful efforts to effect change– please see the book The Homework Myth.] After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed at home.

This is a rather curious fact when you stop to think about it, but not as curious as the fact that few people ever stop to think about it.

), or that it “reinforces” what students were taught in class (a word that denotes the repetition of rote behaviors, not the development of understanding), or that it teaches children self-discipline and responsibility (a claim for which absolutely no evidence exists).

Above all, principals need to help their faculties see that the most important criterion for judging decisions about homework (or other policies, for that matter) is the impact they’re likely to have on students’ from learning,” says education professor Harvey Daniels.

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