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Does homework really work?

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Does homework improve student achievement?
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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. Two researchers looked at TIMSS data from both and in order to be able to compare practices in 50 countries. When they published their findings in , they could scarcely conceal their surprise:. Not only did we fail to find any positive relationships, [but] the overall correlations between national average student achievement and national averages in the frequency, total amount, and percentage of teachers who used homework in grading are all negative!

If these data can be extrapolated to other subjects — a research topic that warrants immediate study, in our opinion — then countries that try to improve their standing in the world rankings of student achievement by raising the amount of homework might actually be undermining their own success. More homework may actually undermine national achievement. Incidental research raises further doubts about homework. Reviews of homework studies tend to overlook investigations that are primarily focused on other topics but just happen to look at homework, among several other variables.

Here are two examples:. First, a pair of Harvard scientists queried almost 2, students enrolled in college physics courses in order to figure out whether any features of their high school physics courses were now of use to them. At first they found a very small relationship between the amount of homework that students had had in high school and how well they were currently doing. Once the researchers controlled for other variables, such as the type of courses kids had taken, that relationship disappeared.

The same researchers then embarked on a similar study of a much larger population of students in college science classes — and found the same thing: She then set out to compare their classroom practices to those of a matched group of other teachers. Are better teachers more apt to question the conventional wisdom in general? More responsive to its negative effects on children and families?

This analysis rings true for Steve Phelps, who teaches math at a high school near Cincinnati. But as I mastered the material, homework ceased to be necessary. Lyons has also conducted an informal investigation to gauge the impact of this shift. He gave less and less homework each year before finally eliminating it completely.

And he reports that. Homework is an obvious burden to students, but assigning, collecting, grading, and recording homework creates a tremendous amount of work for me as well.

Nor is the Harvard physics study. People who never bought it will not be surprised, of course. Put differently, the research offers no reason to believe that students in high-quality classrooms whose teachers give little or no homework would be at a disadvantage as regards any meaningful kind of learning.

That will be the subject of the following chapter…. Two of the four studies reviewed by Paschal et al. The third found benefits at two of three grade levels, but all of the students in this study who were assigned homework also received parental help. The last study found that students who were given math puzzles unrelated to what was being taught in class did as well as those who got traditional math homework.

There is reason to question whether this technique is really appropriate for a topic like homework, and thus whether the conclusions drawn from it would be valid. Meta-analyses may be useful for combining multiple studies of, say, the efficacy of a blood pressure medication, but not necessarily studies dealing with different aspects of complex human behavior.

Homework contributes to higher achievement, which then, in turn, predisposes those students to spend more time on it. But correlations between the two leave us unable to disentangle the two effects and determine which is stronger. Epstein and Van Voorhis, pp. Also see Walberg et al. In Cooper et al.

For a more detailed discussion about and review of research regarding the effects of grades, see Kohn a, b. That difference shrank in the latest batch of studies Cooper et al. See Kohn b, , which includes analysis and research to support the claims made in the following paragraphs.

Nevertheless, Cooper criticizes studies that use only one of these measures and argues in favor of those, like his own, that make use of both see Cooper et al. The studies he reviewed lasted anywhere from two to thirty weeks. Quotation appears on p. If anything, this summary understates the actual findings. Why this might be true is open to interpretation. The unpublished study by C. For example, see any number of writings by Herbert Walberg.

Until they get to high school, there are no such tests in Japan. As far as I can tell, no data on how NAEP math scores varied by homework completion have been published for nine- and thirteen-year-olds. Department of Education , p. In , fourth graders who reported doing more than an hour of homework a night got exactly same score as those whose teachers assigned no homework at all. Those in the middle, who said they did minutes a night, got slightly higher scores.

For older students, more homework was correlated with higher reading scores U. Specifically, the students taking the test in many of the countries were older, richer, and drawn from a more selective pool than those in the U. Also see the many publications on this subject by Gerald Bracey. Sadler and Tai; personal communication with Phil Sadler, August Permission must be obtained in order to reprint this chapter in a published work or in order to offer it for sale in any form.

Please write to the address indicated on the Contact Us page. Standardized tests are even less useful when they include any of these features: Other countries whup the pants off us in international exams. Premise 1 explains Premise 2. When they published their findings in , they could scarcely conceal their surprise: Here are two examples: And he reports that each year my students have performed better on the AP Economics test.

Do you sometimes question why they need to do so much homework? Children of all ages are bringing home all sorts of homework assignments these days. Perhaps your child has more homework than you had when you were a student. Homework assignments that cause students to practice a variety of skills on a regular basis are quite effective especially for math and foreign languages. The brain thrives when it is able to practice these skills on a daily basis.

In one sense this type of homework could be considered pointless, but on the other hand, all types of homework help students develop good work ethics. Regardless of if it seems useless, it is still good to encourage your child to complete the homework assignment in order to help them learn the lesson of completing jobs that are given to them.

This will help them in the working world when they are asked to do seemingly brainless tasks that simply need to be done. We all know that cramming gets the job done, but there is often little to zero retention of the subject material.

You can help your child retain more information by helping them set up a homework schedule where they study the same amount of material in smaller sections over a longer period of time. For example, rather than reading fifty pages of Biology homework all at once, they can break up the reading into chunks of ten pages and read them throughout the week.

This will help them build upon the information that they learned the previous days without getting overloaded. One way to help your child improve their test scores is to use part of their homework time to do sample tests. This will enable them to practice using their newly acquired skills by forcing them to apply the information to the sample test questions. This has proven to be much more effective than merely reading through the assigned reading material, and then forgetting much of it by the time the actual test rolls around.

Taking practice tests will also help take the pressure off during the real test, and should help reduce some of the test taking anxiety.

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If you think your child is doing too much homework, Cooper recommends talking with her teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.”.

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You might think that open-minded people who review the evidence should be able to agree on whether homework really does help. If so, you’d be wrong. “Researchers have been far from unanimous in their assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of homework as an instructional technique,” according to an article published in the .

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Sep 14,  · Yes homework can be good for you but there is a limit of how much a student can handle before they collaspe underneath all of that work! But I love it when teachers make homework fun or competive (which we normally do now and days)! Sep 23,  · 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 2½ hours of homework a night, after .

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Does homework improve student achievement? October 8, Since , educators around the world have conducted studies to answer a simple question: Does homework help or hinder a student’s ability to learn? As simple as the question seems to be, the answer is quite complex. So many variables affect student achievement. Homework will help you do that because you can memorize and be better at what you're doing it so when the test comes, you feel confident that your going to do good well because you studied. Homework helps give a better understanding because it’s a recap of what you did in class.