Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?

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does doing homework improve grades

Educators should be thrilled by these numbers. Pleasing a majority of parents regarding homework and having equal numbers of dissenters shouting "too much!" and "too little!" is about as good as they can hope for.

But opinions cannot tell us whether homework works; only research can, which is why my colleagues and I have conducted a combined analysis of dozens of homework studies to examine whether homework is beneficial and what amount of homework is appropriate for our children.

The homework question is best answered by comparing students who are assigned homework with students assigned no homework but who are similar in other ways. The results of such studies suggest that homework can improve students' scores on the class tests that come at the end of a topic. 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.

Less authoritative are 12 studies that link the amount of homework to achievement, but control for lots of other factors that might influence this connection. These types of studies, often based on national samples of students, also find a positive link between time on homework and achievement.

Yet other studies simply correlate homework and achievement with no attempt to control for student differences. In 35 such studies, about 77 percent find the link between homework and achievement is positive. Most interesting, though, is these results suggest little or no relationship between homework and achievement for elementary school students.

Why might that be? Younger children have less developed study habits and are less able to tune out distractions at home. Studies also suggest that young students who are struggling in school take more time to complete homework assignments simply because these assignments are more difficult for them.

does doing homework improve grades

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 2½ hours of homework a night, after which returns diminish.

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. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what's going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Opponents of homework counter that it can also have negative effects. They argue it can lead to boredom with schoolwork, since all activities remain interesting only for so long. Homework 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 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 which also give individual schools and teachers some flexibility to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of their students and families. In general, teachers should avoid either extreme.

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Study: Homework Doesn’t Mean Better Grades, But Maybe Better Standardized Test Scores

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Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at UVA's Curry School of Education

The time students spend on math and science homework doesn’t necessarily mean better grades, but it could lead to better performance on standardized tests, a new study finds.

“When Is Homework Worth The Time?” was recently published by lead investigator Adam Maltese, assistant professor of science education at Indiana University, and co-authors Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education , and Xitao Fan, dean of education at the University of Macau. Maltese is a Curry alumnus, and Fan is a former Curry faculty member.

The authors examined survey and transcript data of more than 18,000 10th-grade students to uncover explanations for academic performance. The data focused on individual classes, examining student outcomes through the transcripts from two nationwide samples collected in 1990 and 2002 by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Contrary to much published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not. But the analysis found a positive association between student performance on standardized tests and the time they spent on homework.

“Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be,” Maltese said.

Tai said that homework assignments cannot replace good teaching.

“I believe that this finding is the end result of a chain of unfortunate educational decisions, beginning with the content coverage requirements that push too much information into too little time to learn it in the classroom,” Tai said. “The overflow typically results in more homework assignments. However, students spending more time on something that is not easy to understand or needs to be explained by a teacher does not help these students learn and, in fact, may confuse them.

“The results from this study imply that homework should be purposeful,” he added, “and that the purpose must be understood by both the teacher and the students.”

The authors suggest that factors such as class participation and attendance may mitigate the association of homework to stronger grade performance. They also indicate the types of homework assignments typically given may work better toward standardized test preparation than for retaining knowledge of class material.

Maltese said the genesis for the study was a concern about whether a traditional and ubiquitous educational practice, such as homework, is associated with students achieving at a higher level in math and science. Many media reports about education compare U.S. students unfavorably to high-achieving math and science students from across the world. The 2007 documentary film “Two Million Minutes” compared two Indiana students to students in India and China, taking particular note of how much more time the Indian and Chinese students spent on studying or completing homework.

“We’re not trying to say that all homework is bad,” Maltese said. “It’s expected that students are going to do homework. This is more of an argument that it should be quality over quantity. So in math, rather than doing the same types of problems over and over again, maybe it should involve having students analyze new types of problems or data. In science, maybe the students should write concept summaries instead of just reading a chapter and answering the questions at the end.”

This issue is particularly relevant given that the time spent on homework reported by most students translates into the equivalent of 100 to 180 50-minute class periods of extra learning time each year.

The authors conclude that given current policy initiatives to improve science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education, more evaluation is needed about how to use homework time more effectively. They suggest more research be done on the form and function of homework assignments.

“In today’s current educational environment, with all the activities taking up children’s time both in school and out of school, the purpose of each homework assignment must be clear and targeted,” Tai said. “With homework, more is not better.”

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November 20, 2012

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Does homework really work?

by: Leslie Crawford | Updated: December 12, 2023

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Does homework help

You know the drill. It’s 10:15 p.m., and the cardboard-and-toothpick Golden Gate Bridge is collapsing. The pages of polynomials have been abandoned. The paper on the Battle of Waterloo seems to have frozen in time with Napoleon lingering eternally over his breakfast at Le Caillou. Then come the tears and tantrums — while we parents wonder, Does the gain merit all this pain? Is this just too much homework?

However the drama unfolds night after night, year after year, most parents hold on to the hope that homework (after soccer games, dinner, flute practice, and, oh yes, that childhood pastime of yore known as playing) advances their children academically.

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 their 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? Or is it just busywork?

Homework haterz

Whether or not homework helps, or even hurts, depends on who you ask. If you ask my 12-year-old son, Sam, he’ll say, “Homework doesn’t help anything. It makes kids stressed-out and tired and makes them hate school more.”

Nothing more than common kid bellyaching?

Maybe, but in the fractious field of homework studies, it’s worth noting that Sam’s sentiments nicely synopsize one side of the ivory tower debate. Books like The End of Homework , The Homework Myth , and The Case Against Homework the film Race to Nowhere , and the anguished parent essay “ My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me ” make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.

One Canadian couple took their homework apostasy all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. After arguing that there was no evidence that it improved academic performance, they won a ruling that exempted their two children from all homework.

So what’s the real relationship between homework and academic achievement?

How much is too much?

To answer this question, researchers have been doing their homework on homework, conducting and examining hundreds of studies. Chris Drew Ph.D., founder and editor at The Helpful Professor recently compiled multiple statistics revealing the folly of today’s after-school busy work. Does any of the data he listed below ring true for you?

• 45 percent of parents think homework is too easy for their child, primarily because it is geared to the lowest standard under the Common Core State Standards .

• 74 percent of students say homework is a source of stress , defined as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

• Students in high-performing high schools spend an average of 3.1 hours a night on homework , even though 1 to 2 hours is the optimal duration, according to a peer-reviewed study .

Not included in the list above is the fact many kids have to abandon activities they love — like sports and clubs — because homework deprives them of the needed time to enjoy themselves with other pursuits.

Conversely, The Helpful Professor does list a few pros of homework, noting it teaches discipline and time management, and helps parents know what’s being taught in the class.

The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is listed on the National Education Association’s website and the National Parent Teacher Association’s website , but few schools follow this rule.

Do you think your child is doing excessive homework? Harris Cooper Ph.D., author of a meta-study on homework , recommends talking with the 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.” Also, Cooper suggests taking a careful look at how your child is doing the assignments. It may seem like they’re taking two hours, but maybe your child is wandering off frequently to get a snack or getting distracted.

Less is often more

If your child is dutifully doing their work but still burning the midnight oil, it’s worth intervening to make sure your child gets enough sleep. A 2012 study of 535 high school students found that proper sleep may be far more essential to brain and body development.

For elementary school-age children, Cooper’s research at Duke University shows there is no measurable academic advantage to homework. For middle-schoolers, Cooper found there is a direct correlation between homework and achievement if assignments last between one to two hours per night. After two hours, however, achievement doesn’t improve. For high schoolers, Cooper’s research suggests that two hours per night is optimal. If teens have more than two hours of homework a night, their academic success flatlines. But less is not better. The average high school student doing homework outperformed 69 percent of the students in a class with no homework.

Many schools are starting to act on this research. A Florida superintendent abolished homework in her 42,000 student district, replacing it with 20 minutes of nightly reading. She attributed her decision to “ solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students .”

More family time

A 2020 survey by Crayola Experience reports 82 percent of children complain they don’t have enough quality time with their parents. Homework deserves much of the blame. “Kids should have a chance to just be kids and do things they enjoy, particularly after spending six hours a day in school,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth . “It’s absurd to insist that children must be engaged in constructive activities right up until their heads hit the pillow.”

By far, the best replacement for homework — for both parents and children — is bonding, relaxing time together.

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Q&A: Does homework still have value? An education expert weighs in

by Vicky Hallett, Johns Hopkins University

homework

The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein, co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work," Epstein says.

But after decades of researching how to improve schools, the professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education remains certain that homework is essential—as long as the teachers have done their homework, too. The National Network of Partnership Schools, which she founded in 1995 to advise schools and districts on ways to improve comprehensive programs of family engagement, has developed hundreds of improved homework ideas through its Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program.

For an English class, a student might interview a parent on popular hairstyles from their youth and write about the differences between then and now. Or for science class, a family could identify forms of matter over the dinner table, labeling foods as liquids or solids. These innovative and interactive assignments not only reinforce concepts from the classroom but also foster creativity, spark discussions, and boost student motivation.

"We're not trying to eliminate homework procedures, but expand and enrich them," says Epstein, who is packing this research into a forthcoming book on the purposes and designs of homework. In the meantime, the Hub couldn't wait to ask her some questions.

What kind of homework training do teachers typically get?

Future teachers and administrators really have little formal training on how to design homework before they assign it. This means that most just repeat what their teachers did, or they follow textbook suggestions at the end of units. For example, future teachers are well prepared to teach reading and literacy skills at each grade level, and they continue to learn to improve their teaching of reading in ongoing in-service education.

By contrast, most receive little or no training on the purposes and designs of homework in reading or other subjects. It is really important for future teachers to receive systematic training to understand that they have the power, opportunity, and obligation to design homework with a purpose.

Why do students need more interactive homework?

If homework assignments are always the same—10 math problems, six sentences with spelling words—homework can get boring and some kids just stop doing their assignments, especially in the middle and high school years. When we've asked teachers what's the best homework you've ever had or designed, invariably we hear examples of talking with a parent or grandparent or peer to share ideas.

To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way.

Our data show that with "good" assignments, more kids finish their work, more kids interact with a family partner, and more parents say, "I learned what's happening in the curriculum." It all works around what the youngsters are learning.

Is family engagement really that important?

At Hopkins, I am part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools, a research center that studies how to improve many aspects of education to help all students do their best in school. One thing my colleagues and I realized was that we needed to look deeply into family and community engagement. There were so few references to this topic when we started that we had to build the field of study. When children go to school, their families "attend" with them whether a teacher can "see" the parents or not. So, family engagement is ever-present in the life of a school.

My daughter's elementary school doesn't assign homework until third grade. What's your take on 'no homework' policies?

There are some parents, writers, and commentators who have argued against homework, especially for very young children. They suggest that children should have time to play after school. This, of course is true, but many kindergarten kids are excited to have homework like their older siblings. If they give homework, most teachers of young children make assignments very short—often following an informal rule of 10 minutes per grade level . "No homework" does not guarantee that all students will spend their free time in productive and imaginative play.

Some researchers and critics have consistently misinterpreted research findings. They have argued that homework should be assigned only at the high school level where data point to a strong connection of doing assignments with higher student achievement. However, as we discussed, some students stop doing homework. This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their assignments, they contribute to—or cause—this "result."

Teachers need to design homework that even struggling students want to do because it is interesting. Just about all students at any age level react positively to good assignments and will tell you so.

Did COVID change how schools and parents view homework?

Within 24 hours of the day school doors closed in March 2020, just about every school and district in the country figured out that teachers had to talk to and work with students' parents. This was not the same as homeschooling—teachers were still working hard to provide daily lessons. But if a child was learning at home in the living room, parents were more aware of what they were doing in school .

One of the silver linings of COVID was that teachers reported that they gained a better understanding of their students' families. We collected wonderfully creative examples of activities from members of the National Network of Partnership Schools. I'm thinking of one art activity where every child talked with a parent about something that made their family unique. Then they drew their finding on a snowflake and returned it to share in class. In math, students talked with a parent about something the family liked so much that they could represent it 100 times. Conversations about schoolwork at home was the point.

How did you create so many homework activities via the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program?

We had several projects with educators to help them design interactive assignments, not just "do the next three examples on page 38." Teachers worked in teams to create TIPS activities, and then we turned their work into a standard TIPS format in math, reading/language arts, and science for grades K-8. Any teacher can use or adapt our prototypes to match their curricula.

Overall, we know that if future teachers and practicing educators were prepared to design homework assignments to meet specific purposes—including but not limited to interactive activities—more students would benefit from the important experience of doing their homework. And more parents would, indeed, be partners in education.

Provided by Johns Hopkins University

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to do homework: 15 expert tips and tricks.

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Everyone struggles with homework sometimes, but if getting your homework done has become a chronic issue for you, then you may need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve written this article all about how to do homework. Once you’re finished reading it, you’ll know how to do homework (and have tons of new ways to motivate yourself to do homework)! 

We’ve broken this article down into a few major sections. You’ll find: 

  • A diagnostic test to help you figure out why you’re struggling with homework
  • A discussion of the four major homework problems students face, along with expert tips for addressing them 
  • A bonus section with tips for how to do homework fast

By the end of this article, you’ll be prepared to tackle whatever homework assignments your teachers throw at you . 

So let’s get started! 

body-stack-of-textbooks-red

How to Do Homework: Figure Out Your Struggles 

Sometimes it feels like everything is standing between you and getting your homework done. But the truth is, most people only have one or two major roadblocks that are keeping them from getting their homework done well and on time. 

The best way to figure out how to get motivated to do homework starts with pinpointing the issues that are affecting your ability to get your assignments done. That’s why we’ve developed a short quiz to help you identify the areas where you’re struggling. 

Take the quiz below and record your answers on your phone or on a scrap piece of paper. Keep in mind there are no wrong answers! 

1. You’ve just been assigned an essay in your English class that’s due at the end of the week. What’s the first thing you do?

A. Keep it in mind, even though you won’t start it until the day before it’s due  B. Open up your planner. You’ve got to figure out when you’ll write your paper since you have band practice, a speech tournament, and your little sister’s dance recital this week, too.  C. Groan out loud. Another essay? You could barely get yourself to write the last one!  D. Start thinking about your essay topic, which makes you think about your art project that’s due the same day, which reminds you that your favorite artist might have just posted to Instagram...so you better check your feed right now. 

2. Your mom asked you to pick up your room before she gets home from work. You’ve just gotten home from school. You decide you’ll tackle your chores: 

A. Five minutes before your mom walks through the front door. As long as it gets done, who cares when you start?  B. As soon as you get home from your shift at the local grocery store.  C. After you give yourself a 15-minute pep talk about how you need to get to work.  D. You won’t get it done. Between texts from your friends, trying to watch your favorite Netflix show, and playing with your dog, you just lost track of time! 

3. You’ve signed up to wash dogs at the Humane Society to help earn money for your senior class trip. You: 

A. Show up ten minutes late. You put off leaving your house until the last minute, then got stuck in unexpected traffic on the way to the shelter.  B. Have to call and cancel at the last minute. You forgot you’d already agreed to babysit your cousin and bake cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale.  C. Actually arrive fifteen minutes early with extra brushes and bandanas you picked up at the store. You’re passionate about animals, so you’re excited to help out! D. Show up on time, but only get three dogs washed. You couldn’t help it: you just kept getting distracted by how cute they were!

4. You have an hour of downtime, so you decide you’re going to watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show. You: 

A. Scroll through your social media feeds for twenty minutes before hitting play, which means you’re not able to finish the whole episode. Ugh! You really wanted to see who was sent home!  B. Watch fifteen minutes until you remember you’re supposed to pick up your sister from band practice before heading to your part-time job. No GBBO for you!  C. You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you’ve got SAT studying to do. It’s just more fun to watch people make scones.  D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you’re reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time.

5. Your teacher asks you to stay after class because you’ve missed turning in two homework assignments in a row. When she asks you what’s wrong, you say: 

A. You planned to do your assignments during lunch, but you ran out of time. You decided it would be better to turn in nothing at all than submit unfinished work.  B. You really wanted to get the assignments done, but between your extracurriculars, family commitments, and your part-time job, your homework fell through the cracks.  C. You have a hard time psyching yourself to tackle the assignments. You just can’t seem to find the motivation to work on them once you get home.  D. You tried to do them, but you had a hard time focusing. By the time you realized you hadn’t gotten anything done, it was already time to turn them in. 

Like we said earlier, there are no right or wrong answers to this quiz (though your results will be better if you answered as honestly as possible). Here’s how your answers break down: 

  • If your answers were mostly As, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is procrastination. 
  • If your answers were mostly Bs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is time management. 
  • If your answers were mostly Cs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is motivation. 
  • If your answers were mostly Ds, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is getting distracted. 

Now that you’ve identified why you’re having a hard time getting your homework done, we can help you figure out how to fix it! Scroll down to find your core problem area to learn more about how you can start to address it. 

And one more thing: you’re really struggling with homework, it’s a good idea to read through every section below. You may find some additional tips that will help make homework less intimidating. 

body-procrastination-meme

How to Do Homework When You’re a Procrastinator  

Merriam Webster defines “procrastinate” as “to put off intentionally and habitually.” In other words, procrastination is when you choose to do something at the last minute on a regular basis. If you’ve ever found yourself pulling an all-nighter, trying to finish an assignment between periods, or sprinting to turn in a paper minutes before a deadline, you’ve experienced the effects of procrastination. 

If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you’re in good company. In fact, one study found that 70% to 95% of undergraduate students procrastinate when it comes to doing their homework. Unfortunately, procrastination can negatively impact your grades. Researchers have found that procrastination can lower your grade on an assignment by as much as five points ...which might not sound serious until you realize that can mean the difference between a B- and a C+. 

Procrastination can also negatively affect your health by increasing your stress levels , which can lead to other health conditions like insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even heart conditions. Getting a handle on procrastination can not only improve your grades, it can make you feel better, too! 

The big thing to understand about procrastination is that it’s not the result of laziness. Laziness is defined as being “disinclined to activity or exertion.” In other words, being lazy is all about doing nothing. But a s this Psychology Today article explains , procrastinators don’t put things off because they don’t want to work. Instead, procrastinators tend to postpone tasks they don’t want to do in favor of tasks that they perceive as either more important or more fun. Put another way, procrastinators want to do things...as long as it’s not their homework! 

3 Tips f or Conquering Procrastination 

Because putting off doing homework is a common problem, there are lots of good tactics for addressing procrastination. Keep reading for our three expert tips that will get your homework habits back on track in no time. 

#1: Create a Reward System

Like we mentioned earlier, procrastination happens when you prioritize other activities over getting your homework done. Many times, this happens because homework...well, just isn’t enjoyable. But you can add some fun back into the process by rewarding yourself for getting your work done. 

Here’s what we mean: let’s say you decide that every time you get your homework done before the day it’s due, you’ll give yourself a point. For every five points you earn, you’ll treat yourself to your favorite dessert: a chocolate cupcake! Now you have an extra (delicious!) incentive to motivate you to leave procrastination in the dust. 

If you’re not into cupcakes, don’t worry. Your reward can be anything that motivates you . Maybe it’s hanging out with your best friend or an extra ten minutes of video game time. As long as you’re choosing something that makes homework worth doing, you’ll be successful. 

#2: Have a Homework Accountability Partner 

If you’re having trouble getting yourself to start your homework ahead of time, it may be a good idea to call in reinforcements . Find a friend or classmate you can trust and explain to them that you’re trying to change your homework habits. Ask them if they’d be willing to text you to make sure you’re doing your homework and check in with you once a week to see if you’re meeting your anti-procrastination goals. 

Sharing your goals can make them feel more real, and an accountability partner can help hold you responsible for your decisions. For example, let’s say you’re tempted to put off your science lab write-up until the morning before it’s due. But you know that your accountability partner is going to text you about it tomorrow...and you don’t want to fess up that you haven’t started your assignment. A homework accountability partner can give you the extra support and incentive you need to keep your homework habits on track. 

#3: Create Your Own Due Dates 

If you’re a life-long procrastinator, you might find that changing the habit is harder than you expected. In that case, you might try using procrastination to your advantage! If you just can’t seem to stop doing your work at the last minute, try setting your own due dates for assignments that range from a day to a week before the assignment is actually due. 

Here’s what we mean. Let’s say you have a math worksheet that’s been assigned on Tuesday and is due on Friday. In your planner, you can write down the due date as Thursday instead. You may still put off your homework assignment until the last minute...but in this case, the “last minute” is a day before the assignment’s real due date . This little hack can trick your procrastination-addicted brain into planning ahead! 

body-busy-meme-2

If you feel like Kevin Hart in this meme, then our tips for doing homework when you're busy are for you. 

How to Do Homework When You’re too Busy

If you’re aiming to go to a top-tier college , you’re going to have a full plate. Because college admissions is getting more competitive, it’s important that you’re maintaining your grades , studying hard for your standardized tests , and participating in extracurriculars so your application stands out. A packed schedule can get even more hectic once you add family obligations or a part-time job to the mix. 

If you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions at once, you’re not alone. Recent research has found that stress—and more severe stress-related conditions like anxiety and depression— are a major problem for high school students . In fact, one study from the American Psychological Association found that during the school year, students’ stress levels are higher than those of the adults around them. 

For students, homework is a major contributor to their overall stress levels . Many high schoolers have multiple hours of homework every night , and figuring out how to fit it into an already-packed schedule can seem impossible. 

3 Tips for Fitting Homework Into Your Busy Schedule

While it might feel like you have literally no time left in your schedule, there are still ways to make sure you’re able to get your homework done and meet your other commitments. Here are our expert homework tips for even the busiest of students. 

#1: Make a Prioritized To-Do List 

You probably already have a to-do list to keep yourself on track. The next step is to prioritize the items on your to-do list so you can see what items need your attention right away. 

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of each day, sit down and make a list of all the items you need to get done before you go to bed. This includes your homework, but it should also take into account any practices, chores, events, or job shifts you may have. Once you get everything listed out, it’s time to prioritize them using the labels A, B, and C. Here’s what those labels mean:

  • A Tasks : tasks that have to get done—like showing up at work or turning in an assignment—get an A. 
  • B Tasks : these are tasks that you would like to get done by the end of the day but aren’t as time sensitive. For example, studying for a test you have next week could be a B-level task. It’s still important, but it doesn’t have to be done right away. 
  • C Tasks: these are tasks that aren’t very important and/or have no real consequences if you don’t get them done immediately. For instance, if you’re hoping to clean out your closet but it’s not an assigned chore from your parents, you could label that to-do item with a C. 

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you visualize which items need your immediate attention, and which items you can leave for later. A prioritized to-do list ensures that you’re spending your time efficiently and effectively, which helps you make room in your schedule for homework. So even though you might really want to start making decorations for Homecoming (a B task), you’ll know that finishing your reading log (an A task) is more important. 

#2: Use a Planner With Time Labels 

Your planner is probably packed with notes, events, and assignments already. (And if you’re not using a planner, it’s time to start!) But planners can do more for you than just remind you when an assignment is due. If you’re using a planner with time labels, it can help you visualize how you need to spend your day.

A planner with time labels breaks your day down into chunks, and you assign tasks to each chunk of time. For example, you can make a note of your class schedule with assignments, block out time to study, and make sure you know when you need to be at practice. Once you know which tasks take priority, you can add them to any empty spaces in your day. 

Planning out how you spend your time not only helps you use it wisely, it can help you feel less overwhelmed, too . We’re big fans of planners that include a task list ( like this one ) or have room for notes ( like this one ). 

#3: Set Reminders on Your Phone 

If you need a little extra nudge to make sure you’re getting your homework done on time, it’s a good idea to set some reminders on your phone. You don’t need a fancy app, either. You can use your alarm app to have it go off at specific times throughout the day to remind you to do your homework. This works especially well if you have a set homework time scheduled. So if you’ve decided you’re doing homework at 6:00 pm, you can set an alarm to remind you to bust out your books and get to work. 

If you use your phone as your planner, you may have the option to add alerts, emails, or notifications to scheduled events . Many calendar apps, including the one that comes with your phone, have built-in reminders that you can customize to meet your needs. So if you block off time to do your homework from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, you can set a reminder that will pop up on your phone when it’s time to get started. 

body-unmotivated-meme

This dog isn't judging your lack of motivation...but your teacher might. Keep reading for tips to help you motivate yourself to do your homework.

How to Do Homework When You’re Unmotivated 

At first glance, it may seem like procrastination and being unmotivated are the same thing. After all, both of these issues usually result in you putting off your homework until the very last minute. 

But there’s one key difference: many procrastinators are working, they’re just prioritizing work differently. They know they’re going to start their homework...they’re just going to do it later. 

Conversely, people who are unmotivated to do homework just can’t find the willpower to tackle their assignments. Procrastinators know they’ll at least attempt the homework at the last minute, whereas people who are unmotivated struggle with convincing themselves to do it at a ll. For procrastinators, the stress comes from the inevitable time crunch. For unmotivated people, the stress comes from trying to convince themselves to do something they don’t want to do in the first place. 

Here are some common reasons students are unmotivated in doing homework : 

  • Assignments are too easy, too hard, or seemingly pointless 
  • Students aren’t interested in (or passionate about) the subject matter
  • Students are intimidated by the work and/or feels like they don’t understand the assignment 
  • Homework isn’t fun, and students would rather spend their time on things that they enjoy 

To sum it up: people who lack motivation to do their homework are more likely to not do it at all, or to spend more time worrying about doing their homework than...well, actually doing it.

3 Tips for How to Get Motivated to Do Homework

The key to getting homework done when you’re unmotivated is to figure out what does motivate you, then apply those things to homework. It sounds tricky...but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it! Here are our three expert tips for motivating yourself to do your homework. 

#1: Use Incremental Incentives

When you’re not motivated, it’s important to give yourself small rewards to stay focused on finishing the task at hand. The trick is to keep the incentives small and to reward yourself often. For example, maybe you’re reading a good book in your free time. For every ten minutes you spend on your homework, you get to read five pages of your book. Like we mentioned earlier, make sure you’re choosing a reward that works for you! 

So why does this technique work? Using small rewards more often allows you to experience small wins for getting your work done. Every time you make it to one of your tiny reward points, you get to celebrate your success, which gives your brain a boost of dopamine . Dopamine helps you stay motivated and also creates a feeling of satisfaction when you complete your homework !  

#2: Form a Homework Group 

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, it’s okay to turn to others for support. Creating a homework group can help with this. Bring together a group of your friends or classmates, and pick one time a week where you meet and work on homework together. You don’t have to be in the same class, or even taking the same subjects— the goal is to encourage one another to start (and finish!) your assignments. 

Another added benefit of a homework group is that you can help one another if you’re struggling to understand the material covered in your classes. This is especially helpful if your lack of motivation comes from being intimidated by your assignments. Asking your friends for help may feel less scary than talking to your teacher...and once you get a handle on the material, your homework may become less frightening, too. 

#3: Change Up Your Environment 

If you find that you’re totally unmotivated, it may help if you find a new place to do your homework. For example, if you’ve been struggling to get your homework done at home, try spending an extra hour in the library after school instead. The change of scenery can limit your distractions and give you the energy you need to get your work done. 

If you’re stuck doing homework at home, you can still use this tip. For instance, maybe you’ve always done your homework sitting on your bed. Try relocating somewhere else, like your kitchen table, for a few weeks. You may find that setting up a new “homework spot” in your house gives you a motivational lift and helps you get your work done. 

body-focus-meme

Social media can be a huge problem when it comes to doing homework. We have advice for helping you unplug and regain focus.

How to Do Homework When You’re Easily Distracted

We live in an always-on world, and there are tons of things clamoring for our attention. From friends and family to pop culture and social media, it seems like there’s always something (or someone!) distracting us from the things we need to do.

The 24/7 world we live in has affected our ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time. Research has shown that over the past decade, an average person’s attention span has gone from 12 seconds to eight seconds . And when we do lose focus, i t takes people a long time to get back on task . One study found that it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back to work once we’ve been distracte d. No wonder it can take hours to get your homework done! 

3 Tips to Improve Your Focus

If you have a hard time focusing when you’re doing your homework, it’s a good idea to try and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Here are three expert tips for blocking out the noise so you can focus on getting your homework done. 

#1: Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Pick a place where you’ll do your homework every day, and make it as distraction-free as possible. Try to find a location where there won’t be tons of noise, and limit your access to screens while you’re doing your homework. Put together a focus-oriented playlist (or choose one on your favorite streaming service), and put your headphones on while you work. 

You may find that other people, like your friends and family, are your biggest distraction. If that’s the case, try setting up some homework boundaries. Let them know when you’ll be working on homework every day, and ask them if they’ll help you keep a quiet environment. They’ll be happy to lend a hand! 

#2: Limit Your Access to Technology 

We know, we know...this tip isn’t fun, but it does work. For homework that doesn’t require a computer, like handouts or worksheets, it’s best to put all your technology away . Turn off your television, put your phone and laptop in your backpack, and silence notifications on any wearable tech you may be sporting. If you listen to music while you work, that’s fine...but make sure you have a playlist set up so you’re not shuffling through songs once you get started on your homework. 

If your homework requires your laptop or tablet, it can be harder to limit your access to distractions. But it’s not impossible! T here are apps you can download that will block certain websites while you’re working so that you’re not tempted to scroll through Twitter or check your Facebook feed. Silence notifications and text messages on your computer, and don’t open your email account unless you absolutely have to. And if you don’t need access to the internet to complete your assignments, turn off your WiFi. Cutting out the online chatter is a great way to make sure you’re getting your homework done. 

#3: Set a Timer (the Pomodoro Technique)

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique ? It’s a productivity hack that uses a timer to help you focus!

Here’s how it works: first, set a timer for 25 minutes. This is going to be your work time. During this 25 minutes, all you can do is work on whatever homework assignment you have in front of you. No email, no text messaging, no phone calls—just homework. When that timer goes off, y ou get to take a 5 minute break. Every time you go through one of these cycles, it’s called a “pomodoro.” For every four pomodoros you complete, you can take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. 

The pomodoro technique works through a combination of boundary setting and rewards. First, it gives you a finite amount of time to focus, so you know that you only have to work really hard for 25 minutes. Once you’ve done that, you’re rewarded with a short break where you can do whatever you want. Additionally, tracking how many pomodoros you complete can help you see how long you’re really working on your homework. (Once you start using our focus tips, you may find it doesn’t take as long as you thought!) 

body-hand-number-two

Two Bonus Tips for How to Do Homework Fast 

Even if you’re doing everything right, there will be times when you just need to get your homework done as fast as possible. (Why do teachers always have projects due in the same week? The world may never know.) 

The problem with speeding through homework is that it’s easy to make mistakes. While turning in an assignment is always better than not submitting anything at all, you want to make sure that you’re not compromising quality for speed. Simply put, the goal is to get your homework done quickly and still make a good grade on the assignment! 

Here are our two bonus tips for getting a decent grade on your homework assignments , even when you’re in a time crunch. 

#1: Do the Easy Parts First 

This is especially true if you’re working on a handout with multiple questions. Before you start working on the assignment, read through all the questions and problems. As you do, make a mark beside the questions you think are “easy” to answer . 

Once you’ve finished going through the whole assignment, you can answer these questions first. Getting the easy questions out of the way as quickly as possible lets you spend more time on the trickier portions of your homework, which will maximize your assignment grade. 

(Quick note: this is also a good strategy to use on timed assignments and tests, like the SAT and the ACT !) 

#2: Pay Attention in Class 

Homework gets a lot easier when you’re actively learning the material. Teachers aren’t giving you homework because they’re mean or trying to ruin your weekend... it’s because they want you to really understand the course material. Homework is designed to reinforce what you’re already learning in class so you’ll be ready to tackle harder concepts later. 

When you pay attention in class, ask questions, and take good notes, you’re absorbing the information you’ll need to succeed on your homework assignments. (You’re stuck in class anyway, so you might as well make the most of it!) Not only will paying attention in class make your homework less confusing, it will also help it go much faster, too. 

body_next_step_drawing_blackboard

What’s Next? 

If you’re looking to improve your productivity beyond homework, a good place to begin is with time management. After all, we only have so much time in a day...so it’s important to get the most out of it! To get you started, check out this list of the 12 best time management techniques that you can start using today.

You may have read this article because homework struggles have been affecting your GPA. Now that you’re on the path to homework success, it’s time to start being proactive about raising your grades. This article teaches you everything you need to know about raising your GPA so you can

Now you know how to get motivated to do homework...but what about your study habits? Studying is just as critical to getting good grades, and ultimately getting into a good college . We can teach you how to study bette r in high school. (We’ve also got tons of resources to help you study for your ACT and SAT exams , too!) 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

Connect With a Tutor Now

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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A daughter sits at a desk doing homework while her mom stands beside her helping

Credit: August de Richelieu

Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs in

Joyce epstein, co-director of the center on school, family, and community partnerships, discusses why homework is essential, how to maximize its benefit to learners, and what the 'no-homework' approach gets wrong.

By Vicky Hallett

The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein , co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work," Epstein says.

But after decades of researching how to improve schools, the professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education remains certain that homework is essential—as long as the teachers have done their homework, too. The National Network of Partnership Schools , which she founded in 1995 to advise schools and districts on ways to improve comprehensive programs of family engagement, has developed hundreds of improved homework ideas through its Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program. For an English class, a student might interview a parent on popular hairstyles from their youth and write about the differences between then and now. Or for science class, a family could identify forms of matter over the dinner table, labeling foods as liquids or solids. These innovative and interactive assignments not only reinforce concepts from the classroom but also foster creativity, spark discussions, and boost student motivation.

"We're not trying to eliminate homework procedures, but expand and enrich them," says Epstein, who is packing this research into a forthcoming book on the purposes and designs of homework. In the meantime, the Hub couldn't wait to ask her some questions:

What kind of homework training do teachers typically get?

Future teachers and administrators really have little formal training on how to design homework before they assign it. This means that most just repeat what their teachers did, or they follow textbook suggestions at the end of units. For example, future teachers are well prepared to teach reading and literacy skills at each grade level, and they continue to learn to improve their teaching of reading in ongoing in-service education. By contrast, most receive little or no training on the purposes and designs of homework in reading or other subjects. It is really important for future teachers to receive systematic training to understand that they have the power, opportunity, and obligation to design homework with a purpose.

Why do students need more interactive homework?

If homework assignments are always the same—10 math problems, six sentences with spelling words—homework can get boring and some kids just stop doing their assignments, especially in the middle and high school years. When we've asked teachers what's the best homework you've ever had or designed, invariably we hear examples of talking with a parent or grandparent or peer to share ideas. To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way. Our data show that with "good" assignments, more kids finish their work, more kids interact with a family partner, and more parents say, "I learned what's happening in the curriculum." It all works around what the youngsters are learning.

Is family engagement really that important?

At Hopkins, I am part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools , a research center that studies how to improve many aspects of education to help all students do their best in school. One thing my colleagues and I realized was that we needed to look deeply into family and community engagement. There were so few references to this topic when we started that we had to build the field of study. When children go to school, their families "attend" with them whether a teacher can "see" the parents or not. So, family engagement is ever-present in the life of a school.

My daughter's elementary school doesn't assign homework until third grade. What's your take on "no homework" policies?

There are some parents, writers, and commentators who have argued against homework, especially for very young children. They suggest that children should have time to play after school. This, of course is true, but many kindergarten kids are excited to have homework like their older siblings. If they give homework, most teachers of young children make assignments very short—often following an informal rule of 10 minutes per grade level. "No homework" does not guarantee that all students will spend their free time in productive and imaginative play.

Some researchers and critics have consistently misinterpreted research findings. They have argued that homework should be assigned only at the high school level where data point to a strong connection of doing assignments with higher student achievement . However, as we discussed, some students stop doing homework. This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their assignments, they contribute to—or cause—this "result."

Teachers need to design homework that even struggling students want to do because it is interesting. Just about all students at any age level react positively to good assignments and will tell you so.

Did COVID change how schools and parents view homework?

Within 24 hours of the day school doors closed in March 2020, just about every school and district in the country figured out that teachers had to talk to and work with students' parents. This was not the same as homeschooling—teachers were still working hard to provide daily lessons. But if a child was learning at home in the living room, parents were more aware of what they were doing in school. One of the silver linings of COVID was that teachers reported that they gained a better understanding of their students' families. We collected wonderfully creative examples of activities from members of the National Network of Partnership Schools. I'm thinking of one art activity where every child talked with a parent about something that made their family unique. Then they drew their finding on a snowflake and returned it to share in class. In math, students talked with a parent about something the family liked so much that they could represent it 100 times. Conversations about schoolwork at home was the point.

How did you create so many homework activities via the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program?

We had several projects with educators to help them design interactive assignments, not just "do the next three examples on page 38." Teachers worked in teams to create TIPS activities, and then we turned their work into a standard TIPS format in math, reading/language arts, and science for grades K-8. Any teacher can use or adapt our prototypes to match their curricula.

Overall, we know that if future teachers and practicing educators were prepared to design homework assignments to meet specific purposes—including but not limited to interactive activities—more students would benefit from the important experience of doing their homework. And more parents would, indeed, be partners in education.

Posted in Voices+Opinion

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Should Students Have Homework?

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does doing homework improve grades

By Suzanne Capek Tingley, Veteran Educator, M.A. Degree

It used to be that students were the only ones complaining about the practice of assigning homework. For years, teachers and parents thought that homework was a necessary tool when educating children. But studies about the effectiveness of homework have been conflicting and inconclusive, leading some adults to argue that homework should become a thing of the past.

What Research Says about Homework

According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades. He recommends following a  "10 minute rule" : students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 additional minutes each subsequent year, so that by twelfth grade they are completing 120 minutes of homework daily.

But his analysis didn't prove that students did better because they did homework; it simply  showed a correlation . This could simply mean that kids who do homework are more committed to doing well in school. Cooper also found that some research showed that homework caused physical and emotional stress, and created negative attitudes about learning. He suggested that more research needed to be done on homework's effect on kids.

Some researchers say that the question isn't whether kids should have homework. It's more about what kind of homework students have and how much. To be effective, homework has to meet students' needs. For example, some  middle school teachers have found success with online math homework  that's adapted to each student's level of understanding. But when middle school students were assigned more than an hour and a half of homework, their  math and science test scores went down .

Researchers at Indiana University discovered that math and science homework may improve standardized test grades, but they  found no difference in course grades  between students who did homework and those who didn't. These researchers theorize that homework doesn't result in more content mastery, but in greater familiarity with the kinds of questions that appear on standardized tests. According to Professor Adam Maltese, one of the study's authors, "Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be."

So while many teachers and parents support daily homework, it's hard to find strong evidence that the long-held practice produces positive results.

Problems with Homework

In an article in  Education Week Teacher , teacher Samantha Hulsman said she's frequently heard parents complain that a 30-minute homework assignment turns into a three-hour battle with their kids. Now, she's facing the same problem with her own kids, which has her rethinking her former beliefs about homework. "I think parents expect their children to have homework nightly, and teachers assign daily homework because it's what we've always done," she explained. Today, Hulsman said, it's more important to know how to collaborate and solve problems than it is to know specific facts.

Child psychologist Kenneth Barish wrote in  Psychology Today  that  battles over homework rarely result in a child's improvement in school . Children who don't do their homework are not lazy, he said, but they may be frustrated, discouraged, or anxious. And for kids with learning disabilities, homework is like "running with a sprained ankle. It's doable, but painful."

Barish suggests that parents and kids have a "homework plan" that limits the time spent on homework. The plan should include turning off all devices—not just the student's, but those belonging to all family members.

One of the  best-known critics of homework, Alfie Kohn , says that some people wrongly believe "kids are like vending machines—put in an assignment, get out learning." Kohn points to the lack of evidence that homework is an effective learning tool; in fact, he calls it "the greatest single extinguisher of children's curiosity that we have yet invented."

Homework Bans

Last year, the public schools in Marion County, Florida,  decided on a no-homework policy for all of their elementary students . Instead,  kids read nightly  for 20 minutes. Superintendent Heidi Maier said the decision was based on Cooper's research showing that elementary students gain little from homework, but a lot from reading.

Orchard Elementary School in South Burlington, Vermont, followed the same path, substituting reading for homework. The  homework policy has four parts : read nightly, go outside and play, have dinner with your family, and get a good night's sleep. Principal Mark Trifilio says that his staff and parents support the idea.

But while many elementary schools are considering no-homework policies, middle schools and high schools have been reluctant to abandon homework. Schools say parents support homework and teachers know it can be helpful when it is specific and follows certain guidelines. For example, practicing solving word problems can be helpful, but there's no reason to assign 50 problems when 10 will do. Recognizing that not all kids have the time, space, and home support to do homework is important, so it shouldn't be counted as part of a student's grade.

So Should Students Have Homework?

Should you ban homework in your classroom? If you teach lower grades, it's possible. If you teach middle or high school, probably not. But all teachers should think carefully about their homework policies. By limiting the amount of homework and improving the quality of assignments, you can improve learning outcomes for your students.

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School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students

The Pros and Cons of Homework

The-Pros-and-Cons-Should-Students-Have-Homework

Homework is a word that most students dread hearing. After hours upon hours of sitting in class , the last thing we want is more schoolwork over our precious weekends. While it’s known to be a staple of traditional schooling, homework has also become a rather divise topic. Some feel as though homework is a necessary part of school, while others believe that the time could be better invested. Should students have homework? Have a closer look into the arguments on both sides to decide for yourself.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

Photo by  energepic.com  from  Pexels

Why should students have homework, 1. homework encourages practice.

Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career .

2. Homework Gets Parents Involved

Homework can be something that gets parents involved in their children’s lives if the environment is a healthy one. A parent helping their child with homework makes them take part in their academic success, and allows for the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in school. It can also be a chance to connect together.

3. Homework Teaches Time Management

Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills , forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.

4. Homework Opens A Bridge Of Communication

Homework creates a connection between the student, the teacher, the school, and the parents. It allows everyone to get to know each other better, and parents can see where their children are struggling. In the same sense, parents can also see where their children are excelling. Homework in turn can allow for a better, more targeted educational plan for the student.

5. Homework Allows For More Learning Time

Homework allows for more time to complete the learning process. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.

6. Homework Reduces Screen Time

Many students in North America spend far too many hours watching TV. If they weren’t in school, these numbers would likely increase even more. Although homework is usually undesired, it encourages better study habits and discourages spending time in front of the TV. Homework can be seen as another extracurricular activity, and many families already invest a lot of time and money in different clubs and lessons to fill up their children’s extra time. Just like extracurricular activities, homework can be fit into one’s schedule.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

1. homework encourages a sedentary lifestyle.

Should students have homework? Well, that depends on where you stand. There are arguments both for the advantages and the disadvantages of homework.

While classroom time is important, playground time is just as important. If children are given too much homework, they won’t have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning. Studies have found that those who get more play get better grades in school , as it can help them pay closer attention in the classroom.

Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.

2. Homework Isn’t Healthy In Every Home

While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad .

3. Homework Adds To An Already Full-Time Job

School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.

4. Homework Has Not Been Proven To Provide Results

Endless surveys have found that homework creates a negative attitude towards school, and homework has not been found to be linked to a higher level of academic success.

The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements.

It can be a challenge to really enforce the completion of homework, and students can still get decent grades without doing their homework. Extra school time does not necessarily mean better grades — quality must always come before quantity.

Accurate practice when it comes to homework simply isn’t reliable. Homework could even cause opposite effects if misunderstood, especially since the reliance is placed on the student and their parents — one of the major reasons as to why homework is bad. Many students would rather cheat in class to avoid doing their homework at home, and children often just copy off of each other or from what they read on the internet.

5. Homework Assignments Are Overdone

The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however.

On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework . By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.

The pros and cons of homework are both valid, and it seems as though the question of ‘‘should students have homework?’ is not a simple, straightforward one. Parents and teachers often are found to be clashing heads, while the student is left in the middle without much say.

It’s important to understand all the advantages and disadvantages of homework, taking both perspectives into conversation to find a common ground. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is the success of the student.

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Students' Achievement and Homework Assignment Strategies

Rubén fernández-alonso.

1 Department of Education Sciences, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain

2 Department of Education, Principality of Asturias Government, Oviedo, Spain

Marcos Álvarez-Díaz

Javier suárez-Álvarez.

3 Department of Psychology, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain

José Muñiz

The optimum time students should spend on homework has been widely researched although the results are far from unanimous. The main objective of this research is to analyze how homework assignment strategies in schools affect students' academic performance and the differences in students' time spent on homework. Participants were a representative sample of Spanish adolescents ( N = 26,543) with a mean age of 14.4 (±0.75), 49.7% girls. A test battery was used to measure academic performance in four subjects: Spanish, Mathematics, Science, and Citizenship. A questionnaire allowed the measurement of the indicators used for the description of homework and control variables. Two three-level hierarchical-linear models (student, school, autonomous community) were produced for each subject being evaluated. The relationship between academic results and homework time is negative at the individual level but positive at school level. An increase in the amount of homework a school assigns is associated with an increase in the differences in student time spent on homework. An optimum amount of homework is proposed which schools should assign to maximize gains in achievement for students overall.

The role of homework in academic achievement is an age-old debate (Walberg et al., 1985 ) that has swung between times when it was thought to be a tool for improving a country's competitiveness and times when it was almost outlawed. So Cooper ( 2001 ) talks about the battle over homework and the debates and rows continue (Walberg et al., 1985 , 1986 ; Barber, 1986 ). It is considered a complicated subject (Corno, 1996 ), mysterious (Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ), a chameleon (Trautwein et al., 2009b ), or Janus-faced (Flunger et al., 2015 ). One must agree with Cooper et al. ( 2006 ) that homework is a practice full of contradictions, where positive and negative effects coincide. As such, depending on our preferences, it is possible to find data which support the argument that homework benefits all students (Cooper, 1989 ), or that it does not matter and should be abolished (Barber, 1986 ). Equally, one might argue a compensatory effect as it favors students with more difficulties (Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ), or on the contrary, that it is a source of inequality as it specifically benefits those better placed on the social ladder (Rømming, 2011 ). Furthermore, this issue has jumped over the school wall and entered the home, contributing to the polemic by becoming a common topic about which it is possible to have an opinion without being well informed, something that Goldstein ( 1960 ) warned of decades ago after reviewing almost 300 pieces of writing on the topic in Education Index and finding that only 6% were empirical studies.

The relationship between homework time and educational outcomes has traditionally been the most researched aspect (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Fan et al., 2017 ), although conclusions have evolved over time. The first experimental studies (Paschal et al., 1984 ) worked from the hypothesis that time spent on homework was a reflection of an individual student's commitment and diligence and as such the relationship between time spent on homework and achievement should be positive. This was roughly the idea at the end of the twentieth century, when more positive effects had been found than negative (Cooper, 1989 ), although it was also known that the relationship was not strictly linear (Cooper and Valentine, 2001 ), and that its strength depended on the student's age- stronger in post-compulsory secondary education than in compulsory education and almost zero in primary education (Cooper et al., 2012 ). With the turn of the century, hierarchical-linear models ran counter to this idea by showing that homework was a multilevel situation and the effect of homework on outcomes depended on classroom factors (e.g., frequency or amount of assigned homework) more than on an individual's attitude (Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ). Research with a multilevel approach indicated that individual variations in time spent had little effect on academic results (Farrow et al., 1999 ; De Jong et al., 2000 ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ; Murillo and Martínez-Garrido, 2013 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2014 ; Núñez et al., 2014 ; Servicio de Evaluación Educativa del Principado de Asturias, 2016 ) and that when statistically significant results were found, the effect was negative (Trautwein, 2007 ; Trautwein et al., 2009b ; Lubbers et al., 2010 ; Chang et al., 2014 ). The reasons for this null or negative relationship lie in the fact that those variables which are positively associated with homework time are antagonistic when predicting academic performance. For example, some students may not need to spend much time on homework because they learn quickly and have good cognitive skills and previous knowledge (Trautwein, 2007 ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ), or maybe because they are not very persistent in their work and do not finish homework tasks (Flunger et al., 2015 ). Similarly, students may spend more time on homework because they have difficulties learning and concentrating, low expectations and motivation or because they need more direct help (Trautwein et al., 2006 ), or maybe because they put in a lot of effort and take a lot of care with their work (Flunger et al., 2015 ). Something similar happens with sociological variables such as gender: Girls spend more time on homework (Gershenson and Holt, 2015 ) but, compared to boys, in standardized tests they have better results in reading and worse results in Science and Mathematics (OECD, 2013a ).

On the other hand, thanks to multilevel studies, systematic effects on performance have been found when homework time is considered at the class or school level. De Jong et al. ( 2000 ) found that the number of assigned homework tasks in a year was positively and significantly related to results in mathematics. Equally, the volume or amount of homework (mean homework time for the group) and the frequency of homework assignment have positive effects on achievement. The data suggests that when frequency and volume are considered together, the former has more impact on results than the latter (Trautwein et al., 2002 ; Trautwein, 2007 ). In fact, it has been estimated that in classrooms where homework is always assigned there are gains in mathematics and science of 20% of a standard deviation over those classrooms which sometimes assign homework (Fernández-Alonso et al., 2015 ). Significant results have also been found in research which considered only homework volume at the classroom or school level. Dettmers et al. ( 2009 ) concluded that the school-level effect of homework is positive in the majority of participating countries in PISA 2003, and the OECD ( 2013b ), with data from PISA 2012, confirms that schools in which students have more weekly homework demonstrate better results once certain school and student-background variables are discounted. To put it briefly, homework has a multilevel nature (Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ) in which the variables have different significance and effects according to the level of analysis, in this case a positive effect at class level, and a negative or null effect in most cases at the level of the individual. Furthermore, the fact that the clearest effects are seen at the classroom and school level highlights the role of homework policy in schools and teaching, over and above the time individual students spend on homework.

From this complex context, this current study aims to explore the relationships between the strategies schools use to assign homework and the consequences that has on students' academic performance and on the students' own homework strategies. There are two specific objectives, firstly, to systematically analyze the differential effect of time spent on homework on educational performance, both at school and individual level. We hypothesize a positive effect for homework time at school level, and a negative effect at the individual level. Secondly, the influence of homework quantity assigned by schools on the distribution of time spent by students on homework will be investigated. This will test the previously unexplored hypothesis that an increase in the amount of homework assigned by each school will create an increase in differences, both in time spent on homework by the students, and in academic results. Confirming this hypothesis would mean that an excessive amount of homework assigned by schools would penalize those students who for various reasons (pace of work, gaps in learning, difficulties concentrating, overexertion) need to spend more time completing their homework than their peers. In order to resolve this apparent paradox we will calculate the optimum volume of homework that schools should assign in order to benefit the largest number of students without contributing to an increase in differences, that is, without harming educational equity.

Participants

The population was defined as those students in year 8 of compulsory education in the academic year 2009/10 in Spain. In order to provide a representative sample, a stratified random sampling was carried out from the 19 autonomous regions in Spain. The sample was selected from each stratum according to a two-stage cluster design (OECD, 2009 , 2011 , 2014a ; Ministerio de Educación, 2011 ). In the first stage, the primary units of the sample were the schools, which were selected with a probability proportional to the number of students in the 8th grade. The more 8th grade students in a given school, the higher the likelihood of the school being selected. In the second stage, 35 students were selected from each school through simple, systematic sampling. A detailed, step-by-step description of the sampling procedure may be found in OECD ( 2011 ). The subsequent sample numbered 29,153 students from 933 schools. Some students were excluded due to lack of information (absences on the test day), or for having special educational needs. The baseline sample was finally made up of 26,543 students. The mean student age was 14.4 with a standard deviation of 0.75, rank of age from 13 to 16. Some 66.2% attended a state school; 49.7% were girls; 87.8% were Spanish nationals; 73.5% were in the school year appropriate to their age, the remaining 26.5% were at least 1 year behind in terms of their age.

Test application, marking, and data recording were contracted out via public tendering, and were carried out by qualified personnel unconnected to the schools. The evaluation, was performed on two consecutive days, each day having two 50 min sessions separated by a break. At the end of the second day the students completed a context questionnaire which included questions related to homework. The evaluation was carried out in compliance with current ethical standards in Spain. Families of the students selected to participate in the evaluation were informed about the study by the school administrations, and were able to choose whether those students would participate in the study or not.

Instruments

Tests of academic performance.

The performance test battery consisted of 342 items evaluating four subjects: Spanish (106 items), mathematics (73 items), science (78), and citizenship (85). The items, completed on paper, were in various formats and were subject to binary scoring, except 21 items which were coded on a polytomous scale, between 0 and 2 points (Ministerio de Educación, 2011 ). As a single student is not capable of answering the complete item pool in the time given, the items were distributed across various booklets following a matrix design (Fernández-Alonso and Muñiz, 2011 ). The mean Cronbach α for the booklets ranged from 0.72 (mathematics) to 0.89 (Spanish). Student scores were calculated adjusting the bank of items to Rasch's IRT model using the ConQuest 2.0 program (Wu et al., 2007 ) and were expressed in a scale with mean and standard deviation of 500 and 100 points respectively. The student's scores were divided into five categories, estimated using the plausible values method. In large scale assessments this method is better at recovering the true population parameters (e.g., mean, standard deviation) than estimates of scores using methods of maximum likelihood or expected a-posteriori estimations (Mislevy et al., 1992 ; OECD, 2009 ; von Davier et al., 2009 ).

Homework variables

A questionnaire was made up of a mix of items which allowed the calculation of the indicators used for the description of homework variables. Daily minutes spent on homework was calculated from a multiple choice question with the following options: (a) Generally I don't have homework; (b) 1 h or less; (c) Between 1 and 2 h; (d) Between 2 and 3 h; (e) More than 3 h. The options were recoded as follows: (a) = 0 min.; (b) = 45 min.; (c) = 90 min.; (d) = 150 min.; (e) = 210 min. According to Trautwein and Köller ( 2003 ) the average homework time of the students in a school could be regarded as a good proxy for the amount of homework assigned by the teacher. So the mean of this variable for each school was used as an estimator of Amount or volume of homework assigned .

Control variables

Four variables were included to describe sociological factors about the students, three were binary: Gender (1 = female ); Nationality (1 = Spanish; 0 = other ); School type (1 = state school; 0 = private ). The fourth variable was Socioeconomic and cultural index (SECI), which is constructed with information about family qualifications and professions, along with the availability of various material and cultural resources at home. It is expressed in standardized points, N(0,1) . Three variables were used to gather educational history: Appropriate School Year (1 = being in the school year appropriate to their age ; 0 = repeated a school year) . The other two adjustment variables were Academic Expectations and Motivation which were included for two reasons: they are both closely connected to academic achievement (Suárez-Álvarez et al., 2014 ). Their position as adjustment factors is justified because, in an ex-post facto descriptive design such as this, both expectations and motivation may be thought of as background variables that the student brings with them on the day of the test. Academic expectations for finishing education was measured with a multiple-choice item where the score corresponds to the years spent in education in order to reach that level of qualification: compulsory secondary education (10 points); further secondary education (12 points); non-university higher education (14 points); University qualification (16 points). Motivation was constructed from the answers to six four-point Likert items, where 1 means strongly disagree with the sentence and 4 means strongly agree. Students scoring highly in this variable are agreeing with statements such as “at school I learn useful and interesting things.” A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was performed using a Maximum Likelihood robust estimation method (MLMV) and the items fit an essentially unidimensional scale: CFI = 0.954; TLI = 0.915; SRMR = 0.037; RMSEA = 0.087 (90% CI = 0.084–0.091).

As this was an official evaluation, the tests used were created by experts in the various fields, contracted by the Spanish Ministry of Education in collaboration with the regional education authorities.

Data analyses

Firstly the descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations between the variables were calculated. Then, using the HLM 6.03 program (Raudenbush et al., 2004 ), two three-level hierarchical-linear models (student, school, autonomous community) were produced for each subject being evaluated: a null model (without predictor variables) and a random intercept model in which adjustment variables and homework variables were introduced at the same time. Given that HLM does not return standardized coefficients, all of the variables were standardized around the general mean, which allows the interpretation of the results as classical standardized regression analysis coefficients. Levels 2 and 3 variables were constructed from means of standardized level 1 variables and were not re-standardized. Level 1 variables were introduced without centering except for four cases: study time, motivation, expectation, and socioeconomic and cultural level which were centered on the school mean to control composition effects (Xu and Wu, 2013 ) and estimate the effect of differences in homework time among the students within the same school. The range of missing variable cases was very small, between 1 and 3%. Recovery was carried out using the procedure described in Fernández-Alonso et al. ( 2012 ).

The results are presented in two ways: the tables show standardized coefficients while in the figures the data are presented in a real scale, taking advantage of the fact that a scale with a 100 point standard deviation allows the expression of the effect of the variables and the differences between groups as percentage increases in standardized points.

Table ​ Table1 1 shows the descriptive statistics and the matrix of correlations between the study variables. As can be seen in the table, the relationship between the variables turned out to be in the expected direction, with the closest correlations between the different academic performance scores and socioeconomic level, appropriate school year, and student expectations. The nationality variable gave the highest asymmetry and kurtosis, which was to be expected as the majority of the sample are Spanish.

Descriptive statistics and Pearson correlation matrix between the variables .

Table ​ Table2 2 shows the distribution of variance in the null model. In the four subjects taken together, 85% of the variance was found at the student level, 10% was variance between schools, and 5% variance between regions. Although the 10% of variance between schools could seem modest, underlying that there were large differences. For example, in Spanish the 95% plausible value range for the school means ranged between 577 and 439 points, practically 1.5 standard deviations, which shows that schools have a significant impact on student results.

Distribution of the variance in the null model .

Table ​ Table3 3 gives the standardized coefficients of the independent variables of the four multilevel models, as well as the percentage of variance explained by each level.

Multilevel models for prediction of achievement in four subjects .

β, Standardized weight; SE, Standard Error; SECI, Socioeconomic and cultural index; AC, Autonomous Communities .

The results indicated that the adjustment variables behaved satisfactorily, with enough control to analyze the net effects of the homework variables. This was backed up by two results, firstly, the two variables with highest standardized coefficients were those related to educational history: academic expectations at the time of the test, and being in the school year corresponding to age. Motivation demonstrated a smaller effect but one which was significant in all cases. Secondly, the adjustment variables explained the majority of the variance in the results. The percentages of total explained variance in Table ​ Table2 2 were calculated with all variables. However, if the strategy had been to introduce the adjustment variables first and then add in the homework variables, the explanatory gain in the second model would have been about 2% in each subject.

The amount of homework turned out to be positively and significantly associated with the results in the four subjects. In a 100 point scale of standard deviation, controlling for other variables, it was estimated that for each 10 min added to the daily volume of homework, schools would achieve between 4.1 and 4.8 points more in each subject, with the exception of mathematics where the increase would be around 2.5 points. In other words, an increase of between 15 and 29 points in the school mean is predicted for each additional hour of homework volume of the school as a whole. This school level gain, however, would only occur if the students spent exactly the same time on homework as their school mean. As the regression coefficient of student homework time is negative and the variable is centered on the level of the school, the model predicts deterioration in results for those students who spend more time than their class mean on homework, and an improvement for those who finish their homework more quickly than the mean of their classmates.

Furthermore, the results demonstrated a positive association between the amount of homework assigned in a school and the differences in time needed by the students to complete their homework. Figure ​ Figure1 1 shows the relationship between volume of homework (expressed as mean daily minutes of homework by school) and the differences in time spent by students (expressed as the standard deviation from the mean school daily minutes). The correlation between the variables was 0.69 and the regression gradient indicates that schools which assigned 60 min of homework per day had a standard deviation in time spent by students on homework of approximately 25 min, whereas in those schools assigning 120 min of homework, the standard deviation was twice as long, and was over 50 min. So schools which assigned more homework also tended to demonstrate greater differences in the time students need to spend on that homework.

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Relationship between school homework volume and differences in time needed by students to complete homework .

Figure ​ Figure2 2 shows the effect on results in mathematics of the combination of homework time, homework amount, and the variance of homework time associated with the amount of homework assigned in two types of schools: in type 1 schools the amount of homework assigned is 1 h, and in type 2 schools the amount of homework 2 h. The result in mathematics was used as a dependent variable because, as previously noted, it was the subject where the effect was smallest and as such is the most conservative prediction. With other subjects the results might be even clearer.

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Prediction of results for quick and slow students according to school homework size .

Looking at the first standard deviation of student homework time shown in the first graph, it was estimated that in type 1 schools, which assign 1 h of daily homework, a quick student (one who finishes their homework before 85% of their classmates) would spend a little over half an hour (35 min), whereas the slower student, who spends more time than 85% of classmates, would need almost an hour and a half of work each day (85 min). In type 2 schools, where the homework amount is 2 h a day, the differences increase from just over an hour (65 min for a quick student) to almost 3 h (175 min for a slow student). Figure ​ Figure2 2 shows how the differences in performance would vary within a school between the more and lesser able students according to amount of homework assigned. In type 1 schools, with 1 h of homework per day, the difference in achievement between quick and slow students would be around 5% of a standard deviation, while in schools assigning 2 h per day the difference would be 12%. On the other hand, the slow student in a type 2 school would score 6 points more than the quick student in a type 1 school. However, to achieve this, the slow student in a type 2 school would need to spend five times as much time on homework in a week (20.4 weekly hours rather than 4.1). It seems like a lot of work for such a small gain.

Discussion and conclusions

The data in this study reaffirm the multilevel nature of homework (Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ) and support this study's first hypothesis: the amount of homework (mean daily minutes the student spends on homework) is positively associated with academic results, whereas the time students spent on homework considered individually is negatively associated with academic results. These findings are in line with previous research, which indicate that school-level variables, such as amount of homework assigned, have more explanatory power than individual variables such as time spent (De Jong et al., 2000 ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ; Scheerens et al., 2013 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2015 ). In this case it was found that for each additional hour of homework assigned by a school, a gain of 25% of a standard deviation is expected in all subjects except mathematics, where the gain is around 15%. On the basis of this evidence, common sense would dictate the conclusion that frequent and abundant homework assignment may be one way to improve school efficiency.

However, as noted previously, the relationship between homework and achievement is paradoxical- appearances are deceptive and first conclusions are not always confirmed. Analysis demonstrates another two complementary pieces of data which, read together, raise questions about the previous conclusion. In the first place, time spent on homework at the individual level was found to have a negative effect on achievement, which confirms the findings of other multilevel-approach research (Trautwein, 2007 ; Trautwein et al., 2009b ; Chang et al., 2014 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2016 ). Furthermore, it was found that an increase in assigned homework volume is associated with an increase in the differences in time students need to complete it. Taken together, the conclusion is that, schools with more homework tend to exhibit more variation in student achievement. These results seem to confirm our second hypothesis, as a positive covariation was found between the amount of homework in a school (the mean homework time by school) and the increase in differences within the school, both in student homework time and in the academic results themselves. The data seem to be in line with those who argue that homework is a source of inequity because it affects those less academically-advantaged students and students with greater limitations in their home environments (Kohn, 2006 ; Rømming, 2011 ; OECD, 2013b ).

This new data has clear implications for educational action and school homework policies, especially in compulsory education. If quality compulsory education is that which offers the best results for the largest number (Barber and Mourshed, 2007 ; Mourshed et al., 2010 ), then assigning an excessive volume of homework at those school levels could accentuate differences, affecting students who are slower, have more gaps in their knowledge, or are less privileged, and can make them feel overwhelmed by the amount of homework assigned to them (Martinez, 2011 ; OECD, 2014b ; Suárez et al., 2016 ). The data show that in a school with 60 min of assigned homework, a quick student will need just 4 h a week to finish their homework, whereas a slow student will spend 10 h a week, 2.5 times longer, with the additional aggravation of scoring one twentieth of a standard deviation below their quicker classmates. And in a school assigning 120 min of homework per day, a quick student will need 7.5 h per week whereas a slow student will have to triple this time (20 h per week) to achieve a result one eighth worse, that is, more time for a relatively worse result.

It might be argued that the differences are not very large, as between 1 and 2 h of assigned homework, the level of inequality increases 7% on a standardized scale. But this percentage increase has been estimated after statistically, or artificially, accounting for sociological and psychological student factors and other variables at school and region level. The adjustment variables influence both achievement and time spent on homework, so it is likely that in a real classroom situation the differences estimated here might be even larger. This is especially important in comprehensive education systems, like the Spanish (Eurydice, 2015 ), in which the classroom groups are extremely heterogeneous, with a variety of students in the same class in terms of ability, interest, and motivation, in which the aforementioned variables may operate more strongly.

The results of this research must be interpreted bearing in mind a number of limitations. The most significant limitation in the research design is the lack of a measure of previous achievement, whether an ad hoc test (Murillo and Martínez-Garrido, 2013 ) or school grades (Núñez et al., 2014 ), which would allow adjustment of the data. In an attempt to alleviate this, our research has placed special emphasis on the construction of variables which would work to exclude academic history from the model. The use of the repetition of school year variable was unavoidable because Spain has one of the highest levels of repetition in the European Union (Eurydice, 2011 ) and repeating students achieve worse academic results (Ministerio de Educación, 2011 ). Similarly, the expectation and motivation variables were included in the group of adjustment factors assuming that in this research they could be considered background variables. In this way, once the background factors are discounted, the homework variables explain 2% of the total variance, which is similar to estimations from other multilevel studies (De Jong et al., 2000 ; Trautwein, 2007 ; Dettmers et al., 2009 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2016 ). On the other hand, the statistical models used to analyze the data are correlational, and as such, one can only speak of an association between variables and not of directionality or causality in the analysis. As Trautwein and Lüdtke ( 2009 ) noted, the word “effect” must be understood as “predictive effect.” In other words, it is possible to say that the amount of homework is connected to performance; however, it is not possible to say in which direction the association runs. Another aspect to be borne in mind is that the homework time measures are generic -not segregated by subject- when it its understood that time spent and homework behavior are not consistent across all subjects (Trautwein et al., 2006 ; Trautwein and Lüdtke, 2007 ). Nonetheless, when the dependent variable is academic results it has been found that the relationship between homework time and achievement is relatively stable across all subjects (Lubbers et al., 2010 ; Chang et al., 2014 ) which leads us to believe that the results given here would have changed very little even if the homework-related variables had been separated by subject.

Future lines of research should be aimed toward the creation of comprehensive models which incorporate a holistic vision of homework. It must be recognized that not all of the time spent on homework by a student is time well spent (Valle et al., 2015 ). In addition, research has demonstrated the importance of other variables related to student behavior such as rate of completion, the homework environment, organization, and task management, autonomy, parenting styles, effort, and the use of study techniques (Zimmerman and Kitsantas, 2005 ; Xu, 2008 , 2013 ; Kitsantas and Zimmerman, 2009 ; Kitsantas et al., 2011 ; Ramdass and Zimmerman, 2011 ; Bembenutty and White, 2013 ; Xu and Wu, 2013 ; Xu et al., 2014 ; Rosário et al., 2015a ; Osorio and González-Cámara, 2016 ; Valle et al., 2016 ), as well as the role of expectation, value given to the task, and personality traits (Lubbers et al., 2010 ; Goetz et al., 2012 ; Pedrosa et al., 2016 ). Along the same lines, research has also indicated other important variables related to teacher homework policies, such as reasons for assignment, control and feedback, assignment characteristics, and the adaptation of tasks to the students' level of learning (Trautwein et al., 2009a ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ; Patall et al., 2010 ; Buijs and Admiraal, 2013 ; Murillo and Martínez-Garrido, 2013 ; Rosário et al., 2015b ). All of these should be considered in a comprehensive model of homework.

In short, the data seem to indicate that in year 8 of compulsory education, 60–70 min of homework a day is a recommendation that, slightly more optimistically than Cooper's ( 2001 ) “10 min rule,” gives a reasonable gain for the whole school, without exaggerating differences or harming students with greater learning difficulties or who work more slowly, and is in line with other available evidence (Fernández-Alonso et al., 2015 ). These results have significant implications when it comes to setting educational policy in schools, sending a clear message to head teachers, teachers and those responsible for education. The results of this research show that assigning large volumes of homework increases inequality between students in pursuit of minimal gains in achievement for those who least need it. Therefore, in terms of school efficiency, and with the aim of improving equity in schools it is recommended that educational policies be established which optimize all students' achievement.

Ethics statement

This study was carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the University of Oviedo with written informed consent from all subjects. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved by the University of Oviedo.

Author contributions

RF and JM have designed the research; RF and JS have analyzed the data; MA and JM have interpreted the data; RF, MA, and JS have drafted the paper; JM has revised it critically; all authors have provided final approval of the version to be published and have ensured the accuracy and integrity of the work.

This research was funded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad del Gobierno de España. References: PSI2014-56114-P, BES2012-053488. We would like to express our utmost gratitude to the Ministerio de Educación Cultura y Deporte del Gobierno de España and to the Consejería de Educación y Cultura del Gobierno del Principado de Asturias, without whose collaboration this research would not have been possible.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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clock This article was published more than  1 year ago

A deep dive into whether -- and how -- homework should be graded

does doing homework improve grades

Homework has been a source of contention since it was first assigned in U.S. public schools in the 1800s. By 1900, it had become so unpopular in some circles that an editorial by Edward Bok, the influential editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, had this headline: “A National Crime at the Feet of American Parents.”

“The child is made to study far, far beyond his physical strength, and consequently his mental good,” Bok wrote, arguing that kids under age 15 should be outside playing with friends after school and should go to sleep after dinner. Homework was banned for a while in public schools in Boston, the entire state of California and other places, and from 1900 to 1940 progressive education scholars tried to get it abolished everywhere.

They ultimately lost, but debate over the value of homework for students, especially young ones, continues today, along with a relatively new wrinkle: Should homework be graded? It’s part of a revolution in grading that has quietly been underway for years in some districts but that gained attention when more districts began looking at changing grading systems during the coronavirus pandemic.

This article looks in depth at the controversy over grading homework. It was written by Rick Wormeli, a former National Board Certified teacher in Virginia who now consults with schools and districts on classroom practice and grading systems. He is the author of “ Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom, Second Edition. ”

Teachers second-guess letter grades as they search for a fairer way

By Rich Wormeli

Some school districts in our area are considering proposals to revise their policies for reporting homework completion and students’ timely adherence to deadlines so that these reports do not count in final, academic grades of subject content. A few in these communities are pushing back on this idea, declaring that such policies do not teach responsibility, with at least one observer calling the suggested policies, “dumb,” and, “a formula for disaster.” (See, Mathews, “ Abolishing grades on homework will hurt the neediest kids ,” Washington Post, Dec. 26, 2021, and his follow-up piece on the same topic on April 3, 2022). To these individuals, I offer a deeper dive, as the new policies are legitimate.

Everyone in a student’s academic life agrees that grades should be accurate reports of student proficiencies regarding what is being taught: One student’s grade in science reflects her understanding of photosynthesis, and another’s grade in Algebra reflects his skills in graphing inequalities. With accuracy like this, we can provide helpful feedback and make effective decisions regarding students’ current and future learning.

If we include reports of elements not indicative of the proficiencies we claim to report, we distort the truth about students’ learning. We are an ethical profession, however; we don’t lie to students or their parents. It makes sense, then, to remove any practice that falsifies grade reports and to do more of those things that assure truthful reporting.

With integrity paramount, we cannot conflate the report of doing things (compliance) with the reporting of learning things (mastery or proficiency), as doing so distorts the accuracy of the report of either one individually. During the years of my teaching in Loudoun and Fairfax County schools, some students demonstrated 75 percent proficiency in the previous year’s material, but the previous year’s teachers recorded an A or 100 percent on their report cards because these students completed homework on time, maintained organized notebooks, and worked collaboratively. These elements counted 25 percent of the grade. They were helpful things, of course, but they were not evidence of what teachers claim to be reporting.

Study provides rare control group review of standards-based grading craze

In addition, we do not want to give students a false sense of competence in their learning as this creates embarrassment later when they, their parents, and future teachers think students are competent, but it turns out to be a mirage. These individuals are left gawping at what others in their courses easily understand and do. This can happen when we buffer grades with elements such as “completed homework,” and adding extra points to an assignment’s score because the student brought in extra canned food for the canned food drive.

So, what does this mean for modern grading practices? It means we report elements like homework completion and timely adherence to deadlines separately from subject proficiency on the report card. We are careful not to blur the lines between reporting students’ compliance with tasks with students’ proficiency in Latin declension or proper weightlifting techniques.

Work on homework assignments is not evidence of final level of proficiency. Instead, it provides feedback and informs where we go next in instruction. No professional in any field would accept weaving in reports of their first, inexact, attempts in learning with the final report of their solid competence at the end of their learning journey and proven licensure, as it would create a false report of current proficiency. If we wouldn’t tolerate this inaccurate reporting in working world evaluations, what makes it legitimate in our schools? The grade at course’s end should be an accurate report for the subject proficiencies demonstrated at that point, not a report of the road students traveled to get there.

Consider, too, that homework assignments are used as coaching and practice tools for students as they learn content and skills. Any assessment of learning along the way such as we get when looking over students’ practice work is a one-moment-in-time progress check as students grow towards demonstrable competence. Here, we provide timely feedback, and students self-monitor their learning rather than depending exclusively on others to tell them how they are doing. As a result, students own their learning, and learned helplessness and making excuses fall away.

We don’t want to invoke self-preservation here, which happens often with adolescents. If our first steps with a topic are allowed to significantly alter the final report of our competence in that topic, we self-preserve, protect ego, and essentially give up, letting you think we can do it but that we choose not to, or were irresponsible. For many of us, it’s better you think me competent than give you proof that I’m incompetent and don’t belong. Interestingly, teachers are actually more demanding of students by maintaining students’ hope in their learning potential. Invoking self-preservation with high stakes homework, however, lets students escape the burden of their learning and growing maturity.

To provide gravitas and help educators and communities avoid deflecting on this issue, consider the many court cases speaking to this concern, with brief statements from two of them included here (taken from Guskey and Brookhart, “ What We Know about Grading ”):

  • Smith v. School City of Hobart (1993): “A federal judge rules that grade reductions for nonacademic reasons result in, “clear misrepresentation of the student’s scholastic achievement, … Misrepresentation of achievement is equally improper … and illegal whether the achievement is misrepresented by upgrading or downgrading, if either is done for reason that are irrelevant to the achievement being graded. For example, one would hardly deem acceptable an upgrading in a mathematics course for achievement on the playing field.”
  • Court[s] … have relied on grade accuracy to mean “the extent that it permits someone to estimate the extent of a student’s knowledge and skills in a given area” (Chartier, 2003, p. 41)…[I]ncluding factors such as ability, effort, improvement, or work completion in grades may not be legally defensible.”

Finally, let’s look at the research on teaching accountability and whether counting practice (homework) and penalties for late work in academic course grade teaches students self-discipline and responsibility. Consider (from Guskey’s “Five Obstacles to Grading Reform”):

[N]o research supports the idea that low grades prompt students to try harder. More often, low grades prompt students to withdraw from learning. To protect their self-images, many students regard the low grade as irrelevant or meaningless. Others may blame themselves for the low grade but feel helpless to improve (Selby & Murphy, 1992).

To those expressing concerns about teaching responsibility, I invite you to study the research and many resources on how adults cultivate such maturity in their students. Policies such as one grade lower for each day late and counting homework completion in the final performance of proficiency don’t hold up under scrutiny. Tom Schimmer, author of “ Grading from the Inside Out ,” and former teacher and principal, wrote :

One of the biggest misunderstandings of standards-based grading is that the non-achievement factors don’t matter; they do. Achievement grades are the reason students will ultimately gain entry into college; their habits of learning are the reason they will graduate from college. It is not okay for students to turn work in late. But it’s equally not okay to distort achievement levels as a result of lateness.

He also wrote that having such a factor contribute “to a student’s achievement grade would be inequitable and even unethical.”

Students are behind in math and reading. Are schools doing enough?

All of us want students to develop self-discipline, perseverance, time management, consideration for others, and to start projects the week they are assigned instead of five weeks later, the night before they are due. If we look closely, though, we find that none of the research on how to teach these skills calls for counting homework in the final academic grade or by recording unrecoverable zeros and F’s when work is not completed or not completed on time.

What we find instead are robust and practical insights for building executive function skills, fostering independence, asking students to self-monitor their own learning, building agency (voice and choice in learning), and facilitating students’ growing self-efficacy.

For example, consider these major executive function skills promoted in “ Smart, but Scattered for Teens” : response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, flexibility, sustained attention, task initiation, planning/prioritizing, organization, time management, goal-directed persistence, and metacognition. Do we see anything here that would contribute positively to homework completion and student success? Yes, all of them. Let’s overtly teach these skills instead of scolding from afar in the mistaken assumption that lowering grades helps students mature.

Reporting homework separately is making sure homework “counts,” putting homework completion on its own radar, and giving it increased importance, not less. This is raising expectations, not lowering them. It’s a teacher cop-out when we assign unrecoverable zeros and F’s to work not done on the timeline we declared, as students don’t have to do it now. The message is clear here: This work is skippable and not important. If it’s worth assigning, however, it matters: It’s not busy-work, it’s not skippable. The consequence for not doing your work is giving up other activities and doing the work.

Admissions officers and military recruiters over the decades share repeatedly that they like to see work habits such as homework completion and timely adherence to deadlines reported separately for all four years of high school. This allows them to trust the academic grades as more accurate indicators of students’ real learning and to gauge the candidate’s mettle for their upcoming program. To reinforce the life lesson that hard work often results in higher achievement, report homework completion separately from academic performance and ask the student to note the correlations: higher completion rate yields higher performance, lower completion rate yields lower performance.

Also note that sometimes we get students who do little or no homework, yet they perform among the highest in the class. There is no cheating here; the students have after-school responsibilities that are simply more urgent: Taking care of aging parents or younger siblings, working after school in order to help the family pay for food and rent, or getting extra assistance in another course. When such a mismatch happens, we have to question the value of students doing those homework assignments: Did they really matter to students’ success, or were they merely busy work, making school about compliance, not learning?

Mathews, in his 2021 Post column on the subject, quotes Wakefield High School teachers’ criticism: “ [T]he Spring 2020 virtual learning experiment during the [coronavirus] pandemic taught most of us that students do not, will not, complete work if it is not for a grade,” and he repeats the statement in his April 3, 2022 , update of the controversial topic. But let’s consider the spring of 2020 when schools first closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Remember the panic we were feeling? We were in free fall, wondering which end was up. Students were navigating the loss of normalcy, removal of expected rituals and experiences, fears over others seeing their home lives via Zoom, inappropriate learning conditions at home, caring for parents and grandparents, increased opioid and alcohol use in self or family, wild mood swings, dramatic changes in sleep, isolation/loneliness, going through puberty, limited access to technology/resources/food, jobless parents due to economic downturn, transportation challenges, limited skills in executive function, depression/anxiety, and were dealing with increasing biases, racism, and political hostilities.

On top of this, Arlington County educators and other teachers around the nation were on a steep learning curve, barely ahead of their students on how to make virtual instruction work. Many of us were not very effective at it; we didn’t have the tools and know-how to make learning engaging via the camera lens in spring 2020. It’s a credit to teachers and students that everyone did as well as they did. Using that time of angst with all that was happening on both sides of the camera as conclusive proof that students will only do homework when it is graded, however, doesn’t make sense: It’s a flawed understanding of proper research practices to make such a claim.

In that same April 3, 2022 update, Mathews says that providing feedback on homework, not grades is a, “a lovely image, but … is at odds with modern adolescence. The distractions of teenage life are at war with the notion that students will do better if teachers remove deadlines.” Actually, none of the standards-based learning advocates, as Mathews cited, including Joe Feldman, Emily Rickema, and Ken O’Connor, advocates for removing deadlines. Deadlines still matter, and students are taught diligently how to meet them. Punitive and distorted grade reports, however, are not the way to teach it.

Second, let’s do a deeper dive into what we know about today’s adolescents before we make such generalizations based on what a few teachers say. Adolescents do respond well to classrooms of agency, developmentally appropriate instruction, complex, demanding instruction, and hope. This means we require students to do the heavy lifting to analyze their practice work against standards of excellence and use that knowledge to inform next steps in learning while being assured that these assignments are only progress checks, not the ultimate judgment of competence. When early attempts at mastery are not used against them, and accountability comes in the form of actually learning content, adolescents flourish. No research in our profession concludes that knowingly falsifying grade reports is an effective way to help students mature and deal with the distractions of teenage life.

Let’s implement the practices that lead to student success. Coercive efforts such as counting homework completion and timeliness in an academic grade are about control, not learning or student maturation. Work completion and timeliness are deeply important virtues, of course, but conflating them with academic performance provides a false sense that students are learning and maturing. Homework completion should count 100 percent, and timeliness of assignment submissions should count 100 percent. Yes, quote me correctly, both should count 100 percent — of their own columns on the report card. They should count 0 percent, however, of the report of what students know about mitosis or coding in Python.

Accountability can be defined as entering mutual ethos with one another: I’m looking out for your success as much as you are looking out for mine. As teachers, that means we come prepared to teach diverse students substantive content and skills, and we hold ourselves accountable to powerful ethics as professionals. We study the role of homework in student learning, and we don’t undermine its positive effects by conflating what should be practice with high stakes, final designations of competence. In this, our students are well served.

Teachers say parents, laws are changing how they teach race and gender

does doing homework improve grades

Should Kids Get Homework?

Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.

Mother helping son with homework at home

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Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful.

How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.

Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.

But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.

Value of Homework

Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."

Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.

"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."

Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.

"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."

Negative Homework Assignments

Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.

But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.

Homework that's just busy work.

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.

"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.

Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.

With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.

Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.

" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .

Homework that's overly time-consuming.

The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.

But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.

Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.

"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."

Private vs. Public Schools

Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.

Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.

"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."

How to Address Homework Overload

First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.

"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."

But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.

"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."

Study Tips for High School Students

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Homework's Effects on Grades in High School

Top Issues Affecting Student Academic Performance

Top Issues Affecting Student Academic Performance

Homework can raise high school grades, because work outside of class promotes learning and develops skills. The Center for Public Education reviewed two decades of research on the benefits of homework, finding that high school students can improve their grades by doing 1 1/2 to two hours of homework a night. More than two hours of homework a night could be too much, however, and the benefit of homework for younger students is still not clearly proven.

How Much Homework Should Students Do?

Students should complete 10 minutes of homework a night for each grade level. Duke University researcher Dr. Harris Cooper developed the "10 minute rule" for how much homework benefits students in each grade. According to the rule, a student in ninth grade should do about 90 minutes of homework a night, and a high school senior should do about two hours of nightly homework. The "10 minute rule" has been endorsed by the National Education Association.

Completed Homework Improves Grades

Students should finish as much homework as possible each night to raise their grades. Duke University researchers delved in depth into the relationship between homework and good grades. The amount of homework that teachers assigned did not affect student achievement. The amount of work students completed did. The greater the number of assignments that students completed, the better grades they received, according to the Center for Public Education's review of Duke University studies and others.

Homework Builds Skills and Knowledge

High school students can improve their ability to memorize, understand and practice academic skills by completing regular homework assignments. Homework in math, reading and English will improve math skills, reading comprehension and problem-solving skills. Scholastic expert teacher Patty Blome believes that students learn best when they understand the benefits and purpose of homework assignments. Students should be aware that completing math homework will help them move to the next level in math, and that completing English homework will improve specific writing skills.

Can Students Do Too Much Homework?

More than two to 2 1/2 hours of homework a night is probably too much, according to the National Education Association. Most students can only learn so much at a time. Students should not sacrifice sleep to finish homework or cram for a test. In 2011, UCLA researchers completed a longitudinal study of 535 high school students from the ninth to the 12th grade. They found that the more students crammed for tests and the less sleep they got, the lower grades they received.

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  • Duke Today: Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School
  • Scholastic Teachers: Rethinking Homework
  • National Education Association: Research Spotlight on Homework
  • The College Board: Take Control of Homework

Amy Sterling Casil is an award-winning writer with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She is a professional author and college writing teacher, and has published 20 nonfiction books for schools and libraries.

Does More Homework Mean Better Grades?

The right kind of homework will teach rather than bore kids.

Nov. 20, 2009— -- The Milley children of Calgary, Alberta, will never have to do homework again thanks to a unique legal contract hammered out between their parents and the school. The " differentiated homework plan " spells out the responsibilities of both parties but the bottom line is a ban on homework.

Like many parents, Tom and Shelli Milley were tired of the nightly struggles with their children over homework. "My wife was getting disgusted with the sheer volume that was coming home and I was getting frustrated with the busy work," explained Tom Milley, an attorney in Calgary. And by busy work, Milley means assignments like color-by-number pictures for a French lesson or clipping pictures out of magazines.

The Milley's have three children, Jay, now 18 and off to college, Spencer, 11 and Brittany, 10. For most of the past 10 years, the family has spent their evenings following a frenzied schedule familiar to any parent of school-age children.

The late afternoon involved after school activities, in their case speed skating and girl scouts, which was followed by a rushed dinner and then heading up to the bedroom for several hours of homework. "Like most kids they whined and cried after an hour or two…and I would always tell my wife it's really hard to teach a weeping child anything," said Milley.

Those nightly battles escalated until the Milleys said enough is enough and started to crack the books themselves -- researching studies on homework. What they found was that in many cases – especially at the elementary level – more homework does not necessarily mean better grades.

For two years, the couple argued with teachers and administrators over the homework policy at their children's school, St. Brigid Elementary School in Calgary, until finally their "homework rebellion" resulted in the "differentiated homework plan." The contract spells out the responsibilities of both the teacher and the student. Brittany and Spencer will not have work sent home, and must be graded on what they do in class. For their part, the two tweens must read daily and complete all work assigned in class. And they must practice a musical instrument at home.

Hating homework is not a new phenomenon. There are dozens of anti-homework books and Web sites devoted to denigrating the time-honored practice. On Facebook a petition to ban homework has more than a million members.

Even those whose career involves researching the effectiveness of homework can have issues with it. Harris Cooper, a professor of social psychology at Duke University, described one particularly irksome Spanish assignment that his daughter brought home which seemed to involve nothing but coloring the months of the year.

"The only thing I could figure out is that they wanted her to stare at the word October in Spanish for 15 minutes while she colored and that didn't seem to be a good use of my daughter's time," said Cooper.

But Cooper argues that even students in second grade can benefit from homework as long as it is "simple and short." A good rule of thumb, said Cooper, and one used by many school districts, is 10 minutes per night per grade. So, a Grade 1 gets 10 minutes of homework, Grade 2 gets 20 minutes of homework and so on.

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Grades Have Huge Impact, But Are They Effective? 

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does doing homework improve grades

You can listen to this episode of the MindShift Podcast on Apple Podcasts ,  Google Podcasts ,  NPR One ,  Spotify ,  Stitcher  or wherever you get your podcasts.

Grades can determine so much of a child’s future – the ability to get into college, qualify for scholarships and lessen student debt, land a higher paying job that will lead to a better quality of life and accelerate social mobility. At the start of the pandemic, several school districts switched to pass/fail models, but that period of grace disappeared by fall 2020. Subsequently, students this year saw a spike in Fs and Ds as they struggled with distance learning, financial and physical security at home, mental health, work and more.

This reignited some of the debates about equitable grading , putting into question what teachers grade and the accuracy of their methods.  

“If I don’t grade it, the student won’t do it.” 

It’s a common phrase used by teachers to extrinsically motivate students to do homework, turn in assignments, show up for class and test students on their knowledge. Teachers’ ability to grade everything became even more pronounced in the 1990s due to ed tech and digital grading programs that average scores based on a 100-point scale. Some outcomes of the 100-point scale meant that getting a zero on an assignment could derail a student’s average. Also, failure is over represented on a 100-point scale, making up nearly 60 percent of the possible grades.  

does doing homework improve grades

Claim: An F, or fear of getting an F, will motivate a student to work harder. FALSE

Joe Feldman: There’s no research that F’s motivate students to do better except for a tiny slice of students. The only research that supports that F’s motivate, or that low grades motivate, is for the students who have gotten A’s historically. And when they start to get a B or a C, they scramble like mad because they don’t want to get anything lower because it implicates all aspects of the fixed mindset they have about themselves. 

But for everyone else, in all other circumstances, there is no research to support that Fs motivate. In fact, there’s research that Fs demotivate students because they know that they don’t know something. 

And in the way that we historically average performance over time, that F now is a hole that students have to dig themselves out of. And they know the math. They know that if they get a couple of F’s early, forget having high grades at the end of the term. And so what’s the point? They might as well use their energy elsewhere.

W hat we’ve got to do instead is help students understand that even if they fail early, if they get low grades early, miss things early, they can always keep learning, they can always redeem themselves with our help and support, and success is never out of reach for them. 

CLAIM: Giving some students more time – without any penalties – is unfair to those who do turn it in on time. FALSE 

Feldman: So I think there’s a couple of things underneath that. One is that if something is unfair, that suggests that there’s a competition. And I think we’ve come a long way in disabusing ourselves of the idea that grades should be a competition. Because if I’m trying to teach a class, I really shouldn’t care if I have a whole lot of kids who are successful.  

You know, we don’t want students to feel like they’re competing against each other because we know that only adds stress and demotivates students and lowers performance. And learning is not a race. Just because someone is able to learn something quicker, that doesn’t have any value in whether or not a student learned. A grade should only reflect the level of understanding a student has of the content, not the speed at which they learned.  

Claim: Students can learn without being graded on their behavior. TRUE

Feldman: We want students to learn how to manage their time and we want students to know how to work diligently and to take notes and to be a good citizen of the classroom. We can have ways of giving feedback to students and even consequences that can help them understand how to learn effectively and to learn the skills – the soft skills they’ll need for success in the professional world. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be included in the grade. We, as teachers, want students to self regulate. We want them to understand that if I didn’t take very good notes one time, I can connect not taking very good notes to having lower performance on that quiz or assessment. So now I will learn that I have to take good notes so I do well on the next test. And that’s what we want to get kids to do.

does doing homework improve grades

Claim: If I don’t grade it, the student won’t do it. FALSE

Feldman: So that is a commonly held belief based on extrinsic motivation – that the only way a student will do it is if the value that I invest in it is through the points that I use to grade it.  

I was just talking to a teacher yesterday who said, ‘I used to grade every single homework assignment because I thought that if I didn’t grade it, the students wouldn’t do it. And then I stopped including homework in the grade and I was shocked that the students kept doing it. And in fact, some students did more than before. And then when the students handed it in, I knew it was actually their work rather than copying because so many students copy each other’s homework because otherwise they lose points.’

(Note: There are plenty of students who don’t do the homework even when it counts towards their grades.)

CLAIM: Giving points for extra credit helps those who fell behind during the year. TRUE, BUT

Feldman: Oh, well, that is a “true, but.” It certainly can help them get the points that they missed out so I guess it does mathematically help them in their grade. But the problem is it renders the grade inaccurate. 

For example, I didn’t know the political causes of Reconstruction, but I brought in cake. So points are just fungible, I guess. And if I didn’t learn something there, I can just get the points over here. It doesn’t matter whether I actually learned the thing. 

So it teaches students that all you have to do is get points. You don’t actually have to learn, you just have to get points. 

It perpetuates institutional biases because the students who can do the extra credit usually require additional resources, whether that be time or money or transportation. 

You can read an excerpt of Joe Feldman’s book “ Grading for Equity ” on MindShift and check out his website .

So When a Teacher Reimagines Grading, What Happens to Students? 

The disruptions caused by the pandemic gave teachers, students and families deep insights into some of the inequities in learning. The spike in Ds and Fs in school districts across the country, especially for high school students, has a lot of people thinking about what’s important to learning. Experts at the start of the pandemic called for cutting down curriculum clutter and focusing on relationships. But these practices shouldn’t be just a reaction to a pandemic. 

does doing homework improve grades

In order to better assess his students, Syrie changed how he graded. Instead of being the sole distributor of points, he asked students to self-assess their work and tell him what grade they deserved. And if their grades were unsatisfactory, students could revise their work, demonstrate what they learned and improve their grade. But for Syrie, this also meant changing how he teaches because teaching and grading go hand in hand.

“I no longer have the power to motivate kids with points,” said Syrie, who teaches at Cheney High School in Spokane County, Washington.  

He had to create meaningful learning tasks that would help students on assessments. These tasks weren’t graded, but students would have to find the value in doing the work in order to feel better prepared for the assessments. He said transitioning to this model had its challenges because some students wouldn’t see the value of the tasks until after stumbling on the first assessment. “And then they started to realize, like, wait a minute, [this learning task] is putting things in place for us so by the time we get to the assessment, we’re prepared for the assessment,” he said. 

This model of learning and grading was a major adjustment for students who were used to programming all their efforts on the expectations of a teacher. Instead, students had to reflect more upon their own efforts and abilities. 

“We had a full conversation about our grades and why we believed we deserved the one we chose, and that was something I literally never experienced before,” said Lauren Hinrichs, who was Syrie’s student three years ago when he started to implement these changes. “I think we always saw the teacher-student relationship as a parent-child relationship. Or, as a student, I always viewed the teachers as someone above me, never as a fellow human, always kind of that other more significant figure,” she said. The new system allowed her to see her teacher and herself differently. “Instead, it’s kind of a human-to-human [relationship], eye-to-eye.”

Not being graded on everything meant feeling more open to learning and engaging more deeply with peers as a community, even for students like Lauren who take high-pressure courses. “It allowed me to ‘chill out’ in the best way possible. And you know what? That motivated me even more to get my schoolwork done.”  

The feedback process was an important part of Syrie’s class – for grades, assignments, revisions – and opinions were not exclusive to the teacher; students were active participants, too. Throughout the year, students gave feedback to one another on class presentations, which helped build camaraderie among students.

does doing homework improve grades

During the first five minutes of each class, students did check-ins sharing things that made them smile (like having a great snack) or frown (a personal setback). Hinrichs said getting to know each other this way helped build greater community among her classmates, but also, helped understand inequities in the classroom. Just because teens show up in the same space every day doesn’t mean they know about each others’ joys and struggles outside of school. But getting to know each other through smiles and frowns created the space to do that. 

“There are 15-year-olds out there working night shifts or working right after school to provide for their family. And they don’t have time to do three hours of homework for a project,” she said. These check-ins helped students who were not in each other’s worlds connect in ways they wouldn’t in a typical classroom. She said the sense of community helped the students learn in ways she hadn’t in any other class. 

“I’ve never been able to take five minutes to engage with my fellow students. It was constantly work, work, work, work, work,” she said. Getting to know other students helped her see how inequitable school can be and she felt fortunate to have the time after school to do homework in other classes. But the smiles and frowns activity helped her see what her classmates were going through no matter what their peer groups were.  

does doing homework improve grades

“We were all so close. And to be honest, I would have never gotten to know some of those kids the way I did in Syrie’s class had it not been for the few minutes he took every day to spend with us and spend to connect one another,” Hinrichs said. 

You can read more about Monte Syrie’s journey with grading on his Project180 site.

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Magic Math - AI Math Solver 4+

Scan and get homework answers, mobiluck company limited, designed for ipad.

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Do you need help with your homework? Do you want to learn new things and improve your grades? If so, you'll love our app! The Magic Math - AI Math Solver is the ultimate learning companion for students of all ages and levels. Whether you need help with math, science, history, or any other subjects, our app has you covered. Just scan any question or problem with your camera and get instant answers and explanations from our smart AI tutor. HOW IT WORKS You can solve any math problem and homework with our AI math solver and homework help tool. Just use your camera to scan the problem, write it on the screen, or type it in our calculator. The tool will give you the answer right away, along with detailed step-by-step explanations. You can learn how to solve any math problem and any subject with our application. KEY FEATURES - AI homework solves all subjects (Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, English, French, and so on) - Scan and solve any question or problem in seconds - Learn from detailed step-by-step solutions and clear explanations - Explore a variety of subjects and topics - Smart calculator for iPhone or iPad with Basic, scientific, or fraction calculators SOLVE ANY SUBJECTS IN ONE APP - Math (Mathématiques, matemáticas...) - Physics - Chemistry - Biology - Geography - English (TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, CEFR, SAT, etc.)/French (DELF, DALF, etc.) ... WIDE RANGE OF MATH TOPICS COVERED - Function (Linear, Quadratic, Polynomial, Exponential, Rational, Logarithmic, Inverse Function) - Algebra (Real Number, Arithmetic, Set theory, Expression, Logarithm, Complex Number) - Trigonometry (Trigonometric Ratios, Law of Sines, Law of Cosines, Reciprocal Properties) - Sequences (Identifying sequences, Series, Recursive and Explicit form, Tests for Convergence) - Geometry (Plane & Solid Geometry, Algebra & lines, Lines & Planes in Space, Transformation) - Calculus (Limits, Derivatives, Integrals, Tangent lines, Area below a curve, Identifying Conics, Rotations of Conics, Differential equations) - Statistics and Data Analysis (Probability; Data Representation, Poisson/Normal Distribution) - Matrix (Matrix Algebra, System of Linear Equations, & Matrices) LANGUAGE SUPPORT You can also choose your preferred language, as Math Solver supports English, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and more. Download Magic Math - AI Math Solver right now! Privacy Policy: https://sites.google.com/easytool.io/privacypolicy Terms Of Use: https://sites.google.com/easytool.io/termofservice Support: [email protected]

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COMMENTS

  1. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?

    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.

  2. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    A national study of the influence of homework on student grades across five ethnic groups found that homework had a stronger impact on Asian American students than on students of other ethnicities (Keith and Benson, 1992). Homework may have nonacademic benefits.

  3. Study: Homework Doesn't Mean Better Grades, But Maybe Better

    Study: Homework Doesn't Mean Better Grades, But Maybe Better Standardized Test Scores | UVA Today University News Study: Homework Doesn't Mean Better Grades, But Maybe Better Standardized Test Scores November 20, 2012 Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at UVA's Curry School of Education

  4. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?: If So, How Much Is Best

    It states, "Most educators agree that for children in grades K-2, homework is more effective when it does not exceed 10-20 minutes each day; older children, in grades 3-6, can handle 30-60 minutes a day; in junior and senior high, the amount of homework will vary by subject." Abstract Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?

  5. Does homework really work?

    The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is listed on the National Education Association's website and the National Parent Teacher Association's website, but few schools follow this rule. Do you think your child is doing excessive homework?

  6. Q&A: Does homework still have value? An education expert weighs in

    This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their ...

  7. PDF Does Homework Really Improve Achievement? Kevin C. Costley, Ph.D ...

    educators. There have been several theories on the areas of what help students achieve. One of the main factors impacting student achievement has been the use of homework (Collier, 2007). Opinions vary on whether or not homework has positive effects on achievement. National

  8. How to Do Homework: 15 Expert Tips and Tricks

    You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you've got SAT studying to do. It's just more fun to watch people make scones. D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you're reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time. 5.

  9. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research

    homework had no association with achievement gains. The next type of evidence compared homework with in-class supervised study. Overall, the positive effect of homework was about half what it was when students doing homework were compared with those not doing homework. Most important was the emergence once again of a strong grade-level effect.

  10. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research

    HARRIS COOPER is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Program in Education, Box 90739, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0739; e-mail [email protected] His research interests include how academic activities outside the school day (such as homework, after school programs, and summer school) affect the achievement of children and adolescents; he also studies techniques for improving ...

  11. Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs

    To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way.

  12. Should Students Have Homework?

    According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades. He recommends following a "10 minute rule": students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 ...

  13. The Pros and Cons: Should Students Have Homework?

    1. Homework Encourages Practice Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills.

  14. Does Homework Improve Learning?

    By Alfie Kohn Because the question that serves as the title of this chapter doesn't seem all that complicated, you might think that after all this time we'd have a straightforward answer. 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.

  15. Homework Pros and Cons

    Pro 1 Homework improves student achievement. Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

  16. Study: Homework linked to better standardized test scores

    November 19, 2012 at 4:11 p.m. EST Researchers who looked at data from more than 18,000 10th-graders found there was little correlation between the time students spent doing homework and better...

  17. Students' Achievement and Homework Assignment Strategies

    The main objective of this research is to analyze how homework assignment strategies in schools affect students' academic performance and the differences in students' time spent on homework. Participants were a representative sample of Spanish adolescents ( N = 26,543) with a mean age of 14.4 (±0.75), 49.7% girls.

  18. Should we really be grading homework?

    Advertisement This article was published more than 1 year ago Answer Sheet A deep dive into whether -- and how -- homework should be graded Perspective by Valerie Strauss Staff writer February 6,...

  19. Should Kids Get Homework?

    And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary. "Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that...

  20. Homework's Effects on Grades in High School

    Homework can raise high school grades, because work outside of class promotes learning and develops skills. The Center for Public Education reviewed two decades of research on the benefits of homework, finding that high school students can improve their grades by doing 1 1/2 to two hours of homework a night.

  21. Does More Homework Mean Better Grades?

    So, a Grade 1 gets 10 minutes of homework, Grade 2 gets 20 minutes of homework and so on. The Milley children of Calgary, Alberta, will never have to do homework again thanks to a unique legal contract hammered out between their parents and the school.

  22. Grades Have Huge Impact, But Are They Effective?

    It's a common phrase used by teachers to extrinsically motivate students to do homework, turn in assignments, show up for class and test students on their knowledge. Teachers' ability to grade everything became even more pronounced in the 1990s due to ed tech and digital grading programs that average scores based on a 100-point scale.

  23. Does doing homework improve student's grades? (Statistical analysis)

    That means that, if one of the students improved from 30% to 65% and he did all the homework, and another student did no homework and maintained his grades close to 70%, this statistical analysis should still indicate that doing homework is highly favorable to improving grades (even considering that 70% is higher than 65%)

  24. ‎Magic Math

    Do you need help with your homework? Do you want to learn new things and improve your grades? If so, you'll love our app! The Magic Math - AI Math Solver is the ultimate learning companion for students of all ages and levels. Whether you need help with math, science, history, or any other subjects, our app has you covered.