Does homework improve a student’s academic achievement or does it interfere with family time and create a negative learning experience? That’s part of the debate that is currently going on over whether homework is a good or bad thing for students.
Brandy Young, a second grade teacher in Godley, Texas, recently made the news when a letter she gave to her student’s parents, went viral on social media.
Young said that she was dropping homework from her curriculum for the new school year.
"Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance," Young wrote. "Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."
That made a lot of Young’s students very happy.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), homework has had a fluid history.
“Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century, educators commonly believed that homework helped create disciplined minds. By 1940, growing concern that homework interfered with other home activities sparked a reaction against it. This trend was reversed in the late 1950s when the Soviets' launch of Sputnik led to concern that U.S. education lacked rigor; schools viewed more rigorous homework as a partial solution to the problem. By 1980, 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.”
The case for homework involves several studies noting that student’s academic achievements improve when they are given meaningful homework and they complete assignments. A number of synthesis studies have been conducted on homework, spanning a broad range of approaches and levels of selectivity. One such account, known as The Cooper Study, included more than 100 firsthand research reports, and the Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) study included about 50 empirical research reports. Conclusions from their studies stated, “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.”
The case against homework also cites several studies that suggest homework doesn’t improve students’ learning but instead overvalues work to the detriment of personal and familial wellbeing.
Some no-homework activists say that extended school hours work better for helping students learn and retain knowledge.
Several popular books have been written taking the no-homework stand; one is The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn.
If homework needs to be assigned, Kohn suggest teachers should make sure that the assignments are beneficial, ideally involving students in activities appropriate for the home, such as performing an experiment in the kitchen, cooking, doing crossword puzzles with the family, watching good TV shows, or reading. Kohn also urged teachers to involve students in deciding what homework, and how much, they should do. One idea is that family participatory homework exercises can help students learn practical applications with school subjects and receive more bonding time in the process.
Many education experts believe homework provides valuable tools for student learning but also agree that meaningful homework should always be the goal and not assigned as a matter of policy.
Research has also shown that while students are typically assigned homework from Kindergarten to 12th grade, there has been no specific consensus on the benefits of homework at the early elementary grade levels, however, older students do improve their grades with homework.
Many parents are still uncertain about how they feel about homework. Some will tell you that their child has far too much assigned during the week and over the weekends, but they are not quite ready to chuck homework altogether.
It’s an interesting debate that will continue to garner attention.
Whether you believe homework is necessary for better learning or is an obstacle to student achievement, one thing both sides can agree on is that parental involvement is the key ingredient to a happier and more prepared student.
Story source: Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering,