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Homework or Not? That is the (Research) Question.


❶Also see Walberg et al.

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They are, however, excellent indicators of two things. The first is affluence: Up to 90 percent of the difference in scores among schools, communities, or even states can be accounted for, statistically speaking, without knowing anything about what happened inside the classrooms.

The second phenomenon that standardized tests measure is how skillful a particular group of students is at taking standardized tests — and, increasingly, how much class time has been given over to preparing them to do just that. In my experience, teachers can almost always identify several students who do poorly on standardized tests even though, by more authentic and meaningful indicators, they are extremely talented thinkers.

These anecdotal reports have been corroborated by research that finds a statistically significant positive relationship between a shallow or superficial approach to learning, on the one hand, and high scores on various standardized tests, on the other.

To that extent, students cannot really demonstrate what they know or what they can do with what they know. Multiple-choice tests are basically designed so that many kids who understand a given idea will be tricked into picking the wrong answer.

Instead, its primary purpose is to artificially spread out the scores in order to facilitate ranking students against each other. Moreover, the selection of questions for these tests is informed by this imperative to rank. Thus, items that a lot of students answer correctly or incorrectly are typically eliminated — regardless of whether the content is important — and replaced with questions that about half the kids will get right.

This is done in order to make it easier to compare students to one another. In the latter case, a high or rising average test score may actually be a reason to worry. Every hour that teachers spend preparing kids to succeed on standardized tests, even if that investment pays off, is an hour not spent helping kids to become critical, curious, creative thinkers. The limitations of these tests are so numerous and so serious that studies showing an association between homework and higher scores are highly misleading.

The fact that more meaningful outcomes are hard to quantify does not make test scores or grades any more valid, reliable, or useful as measures. To use them anyway calls to mind the story of the man who looked for his lost keys near a streetlight one night not because that was where he dropped them but just because the light was better there.

Even taken on its own terms, the research turns up some findings that must give pause to anyone who thinks homework is valuable. Homework matters less the longer you look.

The longer the duration of a homework study, the less of an effect the homework is shown to have. The studies finding the greatest effect were those that captured less of what goes on in the real world by virtue of being so brief. Even where they do exist, positive effects are often quite small. The same was true of a large-scale high school study from the s. There is no evidence of any academic benefit from homework in elementary school.

The absence of evidence supporting the value of homework before high school is generally acknowledged by experts in the field — even those who are far less critical of the research literature and less troubled by the negative effects of homework than I am. But this remarkable fact is rarely communicated to the general public.

In , Cooper summarized the available research with a sentence that ought to be e-mailed to every parent, teacher, and administrator in the country: It, too, found minuscule correlations between the amount of homework done by sixth graders, on the one hand, and their grades and test scores, on the other. For third graders, the correlations were negative: He was kind enough to offer the citations, and I managed to track them down. The point was to see whether children who did math homework would perform better on a quiz taken immediately afterward that covered exactly the same content as the homework.

The third study tested 64 fifth graders on social studies facts. All three of these experiments found exactly what you would expect: The kids who had drilled on the material — a process that happened to take place at home — did better on their respective class tests.

The final study, a dissertation project, involved teaching a lesson contained in a language arts textbook. It seems safe to say that these latest four studies offer no reason to revise the earlier summary statement that no meaningful evidence exists of an academic advantage for children in elementary school who do homework. The correlation only spikes at or above grade A large correlation is necessary, in other words, but not sufficient.

Indeed, I believe it would be a mistake to conclude that homework is a meaningful contributor to learning even in high school. Remember that Cooper and his colleagues found a positive effect only when they looked at how much homework high school students actually did as opposed to how much the teacher assigned and only when achievement was measured by the grades given to them by those same teachers.

All of the cautions, qualifications, and criticisms in this chapter, for that matter, are relevant to students of all ages. Students who take this test also answer a series of questions about themselves, sometimes including how much time they spend on homework.

For any number of reasons, one might expect to find a reasonably strong association between time spent on homework and test scores. Yet the most striking result, particularly for elementary students, is precisely the absence of such an association.

Consider the results of the math exam. Fourth graders who did no homework got roughly the same score as those who did 30 minutes a night. Remarkably, the scores then declined for those who did 45 minutes, then declined again for those who did an hour or more! In twelfth grade, the scores were about the same regardless of whether students did only 15 minutes or more than an hour. In the s, year-olds in a dozen nations were tested and also queried about how much they studied.

Again, the results were not the same in all countries, even when the focus was limited to the final years of high school where the contribution of homework is thought to be strongest. Usually it turned out that doing some homework had a stronger relationship with achievement than doing none at all, but doing a little homework was also better than doing a lot.

Again they came up empty handed. Our students get significantly less homework than their counterparts across the globe.

Every step of this syllogism is either flawed or simply false. Premise 2 has been debunked by a number of analysts and for a number of different reasons. But in fact there is now empirical evidence, not just logic, to challenge the conclusions. Research suggests that homework benefits high school students most in the following situations:.

While the debate continues, one thing remains clear: For that reason, assigning students some homework can be beneficial. However, how much homework a child should do and how often are questions that can be answered only after taking into account the unique needs of the child and his or her learning style, goals and challenges. The Case Against Homework: Da Capo Life Long. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page.

Turn on more accessible mode. Turn off more accessible mode. Loading content, please wait These recommendations are consistent with the conclusions reached by our analysis. Practice assignments do improve scores on class tests at all grade levels. A little amount of homework may help elementary school students build study habits.

Homework for junior high students appears to reach the point of diminishing returns after about 90 minutes a night. For high school students, the positive line continues to climb until between 90 minutes and 2. Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school.

It can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. Opponents of homework counter that it can also have negative effects. They argue it can lead to boredom with schoolwork because all activities remain interesting only for so long.

It can deny students access to leisure activities that also teach important life skills. Parents can get too involved in homework—pressuring their child and confusing him or her by using different instructional techniques than the teacher.

My feeling is that homework policies should prescribe amounts of homework consistent with the research evidence, but they should also give individual schools and teachers some flexibility to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of their students and families.

Does homework improve student achievement?

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Does Homework Improve Learning? By Alfie Kohn. (or do) more homework also score better on standardized tests, it follows that the higher scores were due to their having had more homework. It’s true that we don’t have clear evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that homework doesn’t help students to learn. Indeed, it’s.

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But what does homework really do for kids? Is the forest’s worth of book reports and math and spelling sheets the average American student completes in her 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers. The homework ante has been upped as school.

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Sep 23,  · Students assigned homework in 2nd grade did better on math, 3rd and 4th graders did better on English skills and vocabulary, 5th graders on social studies, 9th through 12th graders on American history, and 12th graders on Shakespeare. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework. These studies suggest that some homework does help students to achieve but (1) only in the case of some children, (2) only for a reasonable period of time and (3) only if the homework is meaningful and engaging and if it requires active thinking and learning.

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Research has shown that homework does help a child’s ability to learn on their own, grasp concepts better and improve their problem solving skills. The idea is to provide the right kind of ‘high quality’ homework as opposed to huge quantities of random assignments to complete. Sep 14,  · Does Your Homework Help You Learn? By Holly Epstein Ojalvo September 14, Better students do their homework and teachers recognize that frequently. Repetition of your homework also helps memorize which you could benefit from on tests and other classwork activities.