Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Senior Contributing Editor

Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

She can be reached at [email protected] .

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There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

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.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

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

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students

The Pros and Cons of Homework

Updated: December 7, 2023

Published: January 23, 2020

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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Student Opinion

Should We Get Rid of Homework?

Some educators are pushing to get rid of homework. Would that be a good thing?

does homework promote learning pros and cons

By Jeremy Engle and Michael Gonchar

Do you like doing homework? Do you think it has benefited you educationally?

Has homework ever helped you practice a difficult skill — in math, for example — until you mastered it? Has it helped you learn new concepts in history or science? Has it helped to teach you life skills, such as independence and responsibility? Or, have you had a more negative experience with homework? Does it stress you out, numb your brain from busywork or actually make you fall behind in your classes?

Should we get rid of homework?

In “ The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong, ” published in July, the Times Opinion writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that homework may be imperfect, but it still serves an important purpose in school. The essay begins:

Do students really need to do their homework? As a parent and a former teacher, I have been pondering this question for quite a long time. The teacher side of me can acknowledge that there were assignments I gave out to my students that probably had little to no academic value. But I also imagine that some of my students never would have done their basic reading if they hadn’t been trained to complete expected assignments, which would have made the task of teaching an English class nearly impossible. As a parent, I would rather my daughter not get stuck doing the sort of pointless homework I would occasionally assign, but I also think there’s a lot of value in saying, “Hey, a lot of work you’re going to end up doing in your life is pointless, so why not just get used to it?” I certainly am not the only person wondering about the value of homework. Recently, the sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco and the mathematics education scholars Ilana Horn and Grace Chen published a paper, “ You Need to Be More Responsible: The Myth of Meritocracy and Teachers’ Accounts of Homework Inequalities .” They argued that while there’s some evidence that homework might help students learn, it also exacerbates inequalities and reinforces what they call the “meritocratic” narrative that says kids who do well in school do so because of “individual competence, effort and responsibility.” The authors believe this meritocratic narrative is a myth and that homework — math homework in particular — further entrenches the myth in the minds of teachers and their students. Calarco, Horn and Chen write, “Research has highlighted inequalities in students’ homework production and linked those inequalities to differences in students’ home lives and in the support students’ families can provide.”

Mr. Kang argues:

But there’s a defense of homework that doesn’t really have much to do with class mobility, equality or any sense of reinforcing the notion of meritocracy. It’s one that became quite clear to me when I was a teacher: Kids need to learn how to practice things. Homework, in many cases, is the only ritualized thing they have to do every day. Even if we could perfectly equalize opportunity in school and empower all students not to be encumbered by the weight of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity, I’m not sure what good it would do if the kids didn’t know how to do something relentlessly, over and over again, until they perfected it. Most teachers know that type of progress is very difficult to achieve inside the classroom, regardless of a student’s background, which is why, I imagine, Calarco, Horn and Chen found that most teachers weren’t thinking in a structural inequalities frame. Holistic ideas of education, in which learning is emphasized and students can explore concepts and ideas, are largely for the types of kids who don’t need to worry about class mobility. A defense of rote practice through homework might seem revanchist at this moment, but if we truly believe that schools should teach children lessons that fall outside the meritocracy, I can’t think of one that matters more than the simple satisfaction of mastering something that you were once bad at. That takes homework and the acknowledgment that sometimes a student can get a question wrong and, with proper instruction, eventually get it right.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

Should we get rid of homework? Why, or why not?

Is homework an outdated, ineffective or counterproductive tool for learning? Do you agree with the authors of the paper that homework is harmful and worsens inequalities that exist between students’ home circumstances?

Or do you agree with Mr. Kang that homework still has real educational value?

When you get home after school, how much homework will you do? Do you think the amount is appropriate, too much or too little? Is homework, including the projects and writing assignments you do at home, an important part of your learning experience? Or, in your opinion, is it not a good use of time? Explain.

In these letters to the editor , one reader makes a distinction between elementary school and high school:

Homework’s value is unclear for younger students. But by high school and college, homework is absolutely essential for any student who wishes to excel. There simply isn’t time to digest Dostoyevsky if you only ever read him in class.

What do you think? How much does grade level matter when discussing the value of homework?

Is there a way to make homework more effective?

If you were a teacher, would you assign homework? What kind of assignments would you give and why?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column . Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle

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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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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20 Pros and Cons of Homework

Homework. It’s a word that sends a shudder down the spine of students and parents alike.

It is also a question that has become divisive. Some people feel that homework is an effective way to reinforce the concepts that were learned at school. Others feel like the time that homework demands would be better spent with a meaningful activity that brings the family together.

Is homework important? Is it necessary? Or is the added stress that homework places on students and parents doing more harm than good? Here are some of the key pros and cons to discuss.

List of the Pros of Homework

1. It encourages the discipline of practice. Repeating the same problems over and over can be boring and difficult, but it also reinforces the practice of discipline. To get better at a skill, repetition is often necessary. You get better with each repetition. By having homework completed every night, especially with a difficult subject, the concepts become easier to understand. That gives the student an advantage later on in life when seeking a vocational career.

2. It gets parents involved with a child’s life. Looking at Common Core math can be somewhat bewildering to parents. If you see the math problem 5×3 expressed as an addition problem, 5+5+5 seems like the right answer. The correct answer, however, would be 3+3+3+3+3. By bringing homework to do, students can engage their learning process with their parents so everyone can be involved. Many parents actually want homework sent so they can see what their children are being taught in the classroom.

3. It teaches time management skills. Homework goes beyond completing a task. It forces children (and parents, to some extent) to develop time management skills. Schedules must be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed during the day. This creates independent thinking and develops problem-solving skills. It encourages research skills. It also puts parents and children into a position where positive decision-making skills must be developed.

4. Homework creates a communication network. Teachers rarely see into the family lives of their students. Parents rarely see the classroom lives of their children. Homework is a bridge that opens lines of communication between the school, the teacher, and the parent. This allows everyone to get to know one another better. It helps teachers understand the needs of their students better.

It allows parents to find out their child’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, an educational plan can be developed that encourages the best possible learning environment.

5. It allows for a comfortable place to study. Classrooms have evolved over the years to be a warmer and welcoming environment, but there is nothing like the comfort that is felt at home or in a safe space. By encouraging studies where a child feels the most comfortable, it is possible to retain additional information that may get lost within the standard classroom environment.

6. It provides more time to complete the learning process. The time allotted for each area of study in school, especially in K-12, is often limited to 1 hour or less per day. That is not always enough time for students to be able to grasp core concepts of that material. By creating specific homework assignments which address these deficiencies, it becomes possible to counter the effects of the time shortages. That can benefit students greatly over time.

7. It reduces screen time. On the average school night, a student in the US might get 3-4 hours of screen time in per day. When that student isn’t in school, that figure doubles to 7-8 hours of screen time. Homework might be unwanted and disliked, but it does encourage better study habits. It discourages time being spent in front of the television or playing games on a mobile device. That, in turn, may discourage distracting habits from forming that can take away from the learning process in the future.

8. It can be treated like any other extracurricular activity. Some families over-extend themselves on extracurricular activities. Students can easily have more than 40 hours per week, from clubs to sports, that fall outside of regular school hours. Homework can be treated as one of these activities, fitting into the schedule where there is extra time. As an added benefit, some homework can even be completed on the way to or from some activities.

List of the Cons of Homework

1. Children benefit from playing. Being in a classroom can be a good thing, but so can being on a playground. With too much homework, a child doesn’t have enough time to play and that can impact their learning and social development. Low levels of play are associated with lower academic achievement levels, lower safety awareness, less character development, and lower overall health.

2. It encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Long homework assignments require long periods of sitting. A sedentary lifestyle has numerous direct associations with premature death as children age into adults. Obesity levels are already at or near record highs in many communities. Homework may reinforce certain skills and encourage knowledge retention, but it may come at a high price.

3. Not every home is a beneficial environment. There are some homes that are highly invested into their children. Parents may be involved in every stage of homework or there may be access to tutors that can explain difficult concepts. In other homes, there may be little or no education investment into the child. Some parents push the responsibility of teaching off on the teacher and provide no homework support at all.

Sometimes parents may wish to be involved and support their child, but there are barriers in place that prevent this from happening. The bottom line is this: no every home life is equal.

4. School is already a full-time job for kids. An elementary school day might start at 9:00am and end at 3:20pm. That’s more than 6 hours of work that kids as young as 5 are putting into their education every day. Add in the extra-curricular activities that schools encourage, such as sports, musicals, and after-school programming and a student can easily reach 8 hours of education in the average day. Then add homework on top of that? It is asking a lot for any child, but especially young children, to complete extra homework.

5. There is no evidence that homework creates improvements. Survey after survey has found that the only thing that homework does is create a negative attitude toward schooling and education in general. Homework is not associated with a higher level of academic achievement on a national scale. It may help some students who struggle with certain subjects, if they have access to a knowledgeable tutor or parent, but on a community level, there is no evidence that shows improvements are gained.

6. It discourages creative endeavors. If a student is spending 1 hour each day on homework, that’s an hour they are not spending pursuing something that is important to them. Students might like to play video games or watch TV, but homework takes time away from learning an instrument, painting, or developing photography skills as well. Although some homework can involve creative skills, that usually isn’t the case.

7. Homework is difficult to enforce. Some students just don’t care about homework. They can achieve adequate grades without doing it, so they choose not to do it. There is no level of motivation that a parent or teacher can create that inspires some students to get involved with homework. There is no denying the fact that homework requires a certain amount of effort. Sometimes a child just doesn’t want to put in that effort.

8. Extra time in school does not equate to better grades. Students in the US spend more than 100 hours of extra time in school already compared to high-performing countries around the world, but that has not closed the educational gap between those countries and the United States. In some educational areas, the US is even falling in global rankings despite the extra time that students are spending in school. When it comes to homework or any other form of learning, quality is much more important than quantity.

9. Accurate practice may not be possible. If homework is assigned, there is a reliance on the student, their parents, or their guardians to locate resources that can help them understand the content. Homework is often about practice, but if the core concepts of that information are not understood or inaccurately understood, then the results are the opposite of what is intended. If inaccurate practice is performed, it becomes necessary for the teacher to first correct the issue and then reteach it, which prolongs the learning process.

10. It may encourage cheating on multiple levels. Some students may decide that cheating in the classroom to avoid taking homework home is a compromise they’re willing to make. With internet resources, finding the answers to homework instead of figuring out the answers on one’s own is a constant temptation as well. For families with multiple children, they may decide to copy off one another to minimize the time investment.

11. Too much homework is often assigned to students. There is a general agreement that students should be assigned no more than 10 minutes of homework per day, per grade level. That means a first grader should not be assigned more than 10 minutes of homework per night. Yet for the average first grader in US public schools, they come home with 20 minutes of homework and then are asked to complete 20 minutes of reading on top of that. That means some students are completing 4x more homework than recommended every night.

At the same time, the amount of time children spent playing outdoors has decreased by 40% over the past 30 years.

For high school students, it is even worse at high performing schools in the US where 90% of graduates go onto college, the average amount of homework assigned per night was 3 hours per student.

12. Homework is often geared toward benchmarks. Homework is often assigned to improve test scores. Although this can provide positive outcomes, including better study skills or habits, the fact is that when children are tired, they do not absorb much information. When children have more homework than recommended, test scores actually go down. Stress levels go up. Burnout on the curriculum occurs.

The results for many students, according to research from Ruben Fernandez-Alonso in the Journal of Educational Psychology, is a decrease in grades instead of an increase.

The pros and cons of homework are admittedly all over the map. Many parents and teachers follow their personal perspectives and create learning environments around them. When parents and teachers clash on homework, the student is often left in the middle of that tug of war. By discussing these key points, each side can work to find some common ground so our children can benefit for a clear, precise message.

Quantity may be important, but quality must be the priority for homework if a student is going to be successful.

Are You Down With or Done With Homework?

  • Posted January 17, 2012
  • By Lory Hough

Sign: Are you down with or done with homework?

The debate over how much schoolwork students should be doing at home has flared again, with one side saying it's too much, the other side saying in our competitive world, it's just not enough.

It was a move that doesn't happen very often in American public schools: The principal got rid of homework.

This past September, Stephanie Brant, principal of Gaithersburg Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md., decided that instead of teachers sending kids home with math worksheets and spelling flash cards, students would instead go home and read. Every day for 30 minutes, more if they had time or the inclination, with parents or on their own.

"I knew this would be a big shift for my community," she says. But she also strongly believed it was a necessary one. Twenty-first-century learners, especially those in elementary school, need to think critically and understand their own learning — not spend night after night doing rote homework drills.

Brant's move may not be common, but she isn't alone in her questioning. The value of doing schoolwork at home has gone in and out of fashion in the United States among educators, policymakers, the media, and, more recently, parents. As far back as the late 1800s, with the rise of the Progressive Era, doctors such as Joseph Mayer Rice began pushing for a limit on what he called "mechanical homework," saying it caused childhood nervous conditions and eyestrain. Around that time, the then-influential Ladies Home Journal began publishing a series of anti-homework articles, stating that five hours of brain work a day was "the most we should ask of our children," and that homework was an intrusion on family life. In response, states like California passed laws abolishing homework for students under a certain age.

But, as is often the case with education, the tide eventually turned. After the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, a space race emerged, and, writes Brian Gill in the journal Theory Into Practice, "The homework problem was reconceived as part of a national crisis; the U.S. was losing the Cold War because Russian children were smarter." Many earlier laws limiting homework were abolished, and the longterm trend toward less homework came to an end.

The debate re-emerged a decade later when parents of the late '60s and '70s argued that children should be free to play and explore — similar anti-homework wellness arguments echoed nearly a century earlier. By the early-1980s, however, the pendulum swung again with the publication of A Nation at Risk , which blamed poor education for a "rising tide of mediocrity." Students needed to work harder, the report said, and one way to do this was more homework.

For the most part, this pro-homework sentiment is still going strong today, in part because of mandatory testing and continued economic concerns about the nation's competitiveness. Many believe that today's students are falling behind their peers in places like Korea and Finland and are paying more attention to Angry Birds than to ancient Babylonia.

But there are also a growing number of Stephanie Brants out there, educators and parents who believe that students are stressed and missing out on valuable family time. Students, they say, particularly younger students who have seen a rise in the amount of take-home work and already put in a six- to nine-hour "work" day, need less, not more homework.

Who is right? Are students not working hard enough or is homework not working for them? Here's where the story gets a little tricky: It depends on whom you ask and what research you're looking at. As Cathy Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework , points out, "Homework has generated enough research so that a study can be found to support almost any position, as long as conflicting studies are ignored." Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth and a strong believer in eliminating all homework, writes that, "The fact that there isn't anything close to unanimity among experts belies the widespread assumption that homework helps." At best, he says, homework shows only an association, not a causal relationship, with academic achievement. In other words, it's hard to tease out how homework is really affecting test scores and grades. Did one teacher give better homework than another? Was one teacher more effective in the classroom? Do certain students test better or just try harder?

"It is difficult to separate where the effect of classroom teaching ends," Vatterott writes, "and the effect of homework begins."

Putting research aside, however, much of the current debate over homework is focused less on how homework affects academic achievement and more on time. Parents in particular have been saying that the amount of time children spend in school, especially with afterschool programs, combined with the amount of homework given — as early as kindergarten — is leaving students with little time to run around, eat dinner with their families, or even get enough sleep.

Certainly, for some parents, homework is a way to stay connected to their children's learning. But for others, homework creates a tug-of-war between parents and children, says Liz Goodenough, M.A.T.'71, creator of a documentary called Where Do the Children Play?

"Ideally homework should be about taking something home, spending a few curious and interesting moments in which children might engage with parents, and then getting that project back to school — an organizational triumph," she says. "A nag-free activity could engage family time: Ask a parent about his or her own childhood. Interview siblings."

Illustration by Jessica Esch

Instead, as the authors of The Case Against Homework write, "Homework overload is turning many of us into the types of parents we never wanted to be: nags, bribers, and taskmasters."

Leslie Butchko saw it happen a few years ago when her son started sixth grade in the Santa Monica-Malibu (Calif.) United School District. She remembers him getting two to four hours of homework a night, plus weekend and vacation projects. He was overwhelmed and struggled to finish assignments, especially on nights when he also had an extracurricular activity.

"Ultimately, we felt compelled to have Bobby quit karate — he's a black belt — to allow more time for homework," she says. And then, with all of their attention focused on Bobby's homework, she and her husband started sending their youngest to his room so that Bobby could focus. "One day, my younger son gave us 15-minute coupons as a present for us to use to send him to play in the back room. … It was then that we realized there had to be something wrong with the amount of homework we were facing."

Butchko joined forces with another mother who was having similar struggles and ultimately helped get the homework policy in her district changed, limiting homework on weekends and holidays, setting time guidelines for daily homework, and broadening the definition of homework to include projects and studying for tests. As she told the school board at one meeting when the policy was first being discussed, "In closing, I just want to say that I had more free time at Harvard Law School than my son has in middle school, and that is not in the best interests of our children."

One barrier that Butchko had to overcome initially was convincing many teachers and parents that more homework doesn't necessarily equal rigor.

"Most of the parents that were against the homework policy felt that students need a large quantity of homework to prepare them for the rigorous AP classes in high school and to get them into Harvard," she says.

Stephanie Conklin, Ed.M.'06, sees this at Another Course to College, the Boston pilot school where she teaches math. "When a student is not completing [his or her] homework, parents usually are frustrated by this and agree with me that homework is an important part of their child's learning," she says.

As Timothy Jarman, Ed.M.'10, a ninth-grade English teacher at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, N.C., says, "Parents think it is strange when their children are not assigned a substantial amount of homework."

That's because, writes Vatterott, in her chapter, "The Cult(ure) of Homework," the concept of homework "has become so engrained in U.S. culture that the word homework is part of the common vernacular."

These days, nightly homework is a given in American schools, writes Kohn.

"Homework isn't limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important. Most teachers and administrators aren't saying, 'It may be useful to do this particular project at home,'" he writes. "Rather, the point of departure seems to be, 'We've decided ahead of time that children will have to do something every night (or several times a week). … This commitment to the idea of homework in the abstract is accepted by the overwhelming majority of schools — public and private, elementary and secondary."

Brant had to confront this when she cut homework at Gaithersburg Elementary.

"A lot of my parents have this idea that homework is part of life. This is what I had to do when I was young," she says, and so, too, will our kids. "So I had to shift their thinking." She did this slowly, first by asking her teachers last year to really think about what they were sending home. And this year, in addition to forming a parent advisory group around the issue, she also holds events to answer questions.

Still, not everyone is convinced that homework as a given is a bad thing. "Any pursuit of excellence, be it in sports, the arts, or academics, requires hard work. That our culture finds it okay for kids to spend hours a day in a sport but not equal time on academics is part of the problem," wrote one pro-homework parent on the blog for the documentary Race to Nowhere , which looks at the stress American students are under. "Homework has always been an issue for parents and children. It is now and it was 20 years ago. I think when people decide to have children that it is their responsibility to educate them," wrote another.

And part of educating them, some believe, is helping them develop skills they will eventually need in adulthood. "Homework can help students develop study skills that will be of value even after they leave school," reads a publication on the U.S. Department of Education website called Homework Tips for Parents. "It can teach them that learning takes place anywhere, not just in the classroom. … It can foster positive character traits such as independence and responsibility. Homework can teach children how to manage time."

Annie Brown, Ed.M.'01, feels this is particularly critical at less affluent schools like the ones she has worked at in Boston, Cambridge, Mass., and Los Angeles as a literacy coach.

"It feels important that my students do homework because they will ultimately be competing for college placement and jobs with students who have done homework and have developed a work ethic," she says. "Also it will get them ready for independently taking responsibility for their learning, which will need to happen for them to go to college."

The problem with this thinking, writes Vatterott, is that homework becomes a way to practice being a worker.

"Which begs the question," she writes. "Is our job as educators to produce learners or workers?"

Slate magazine editor Emily Bazelon, in a piece about homework, says this makes no sense for younger kids.

"Why should we think that practicing homework in first grade will make you better at doing it in middle school?" she writes. "Doesn't the opposite seem equally plausible: that it's counterproductive to ask children to sit down and work at night before they're developmentally ready because you'll just make them tired and cross?"

Kohn writes in the American School Board Journal that this "premature exposure" to practices like homework (and sit-and-listen lessons and tests) "are clearly a bad match for younger children and of questionable value at any age." He calls it BGUTI: Better Get Used to It. "The logic here is that we have to prepare you for the bad things that are going to be done to you later … by doing them to you now."

According to a recent University of Michigan study, daily homework for six- to eight-year-olds increased on average from about 8 minutes in 1981 to 22 minutes in 2003. A review of research by Duke University Professor Harris Cooper found that for elementary school students, "the average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement … hovered around zero."

So should homework be eliminated? Of course not, say many Ed School graduates who are teaching. Not only would students not have time for essays and long projects, but also teachers would not be able to get all students to grade level or to cover critical material, says Brett Pangburn, Ed.M.'06, a sixth-grade English teacher at Excel Academy Charter School in Boston. Still, he says, homework has to be relevant.

"Kids need to practice the skills being taught in class, especially where, like the kids I teach at Excel, they are behind and need to catch up," he says. "Our results at Excel have demonstrated that kids can catch up and view themselves as in control of their academic futures, but this requires hard work, and homework is a part of it."

Ed School Professor Howard Gardner basically agrees.

"America and Americans lurch between too little homework in many of our schools to an excess of homework in our most competitive environments — Li'l Abner vs. Tiger Mother," he says. "Neither approach makes sense. Homework should build on what happens in class, consolidating skills and helping students to answer new questions."

So how can schools come to a happy medium, a way that allows teachers to cover everything they need while not overwhelming students? Conklin says she often gives online math assignments that act as labs and students have two or three days to complete them, including some in-class time. Students at Pangburn's school have a 50-minute silent period during regular school hours where homework can be started, and where teachers pull individual or small groups of students aside for tutoring, often on that night's homework. Afterschool homework clubs can help.

Some schools and districts have adapted time limits rather than nix homework completely, with the 10-minute per grade rule being the standard — 10 minutes a night for first-graders, 30 minutes for third-graders, and so on. (This remedy, however, is often met with mixed results since not all students work at the same pace.) Other schools offer an extended day that allows teachers to cover more material in school, in turn requiring fewer take-home assignments. And for others, like Stephanie Brant's elementary school in Maryland, more reading with a few targeted project assignments has been the answer.

"The routine of reading is so much more important than the routine of homework," she says. "Let's have kids reflect. You can still have the routine and you can still have your workspace, but now it's for reading. I often say to parents, if we can put a man on the moon, we can put a man or woman on Mars and that person is now a second-grader. We don't know what skills that person will need. At the end of the day, we have to feel confident that we're giving them something they can use on Mars."

Read a January 2014 update.

Homework Policy Still Going Strong

Illustration by Jessica Esch

Ed. Magazine

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The pros and cons of homework

Should schoolwork be left at the school gate?

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A child does homework

1. Pro: improves academic achievement

2. con: risk of artificial intelligence, 3. pro: other benefits of homework, 4. con: less time with family and friends, 5. pro: parent involvement, 6. con: stress for students and teachers.

Homework should be scrapped to give children more time for “other creative things”, the president of Ireland has said.

UK pupils do more homework than many European countries Irish president Michael D Higgins begins historic UK visit

Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTE, Michael D. Higgins said school work should be “finished at the school” rather than at home, “an utterance likely to be seized upon by children for years to come in classrooms far beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle”, said the Independent .

Here are some of the benefits and some of the negative effects of homework for schoolchildren.

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A 2006 meta-analysis of research by Duke University in North Carolina found that children who have homework perform better academically at school. But it doesn’t benefit all students equally, the research found. The correlation was stronger for older students (12 and over) than younger students.

But the evidence is far from conclusive over whether homework really does increase student achievement. Other studies have found that it has a positive effect only under certain conditions, while others have found negative effects, and some studies suggest homework does not affect student achievement at all.

The arrival of highly sophisticated artificial intelligence chatbots, such as ChatGPT , could make it easier for students to cheat on their essays or homework – or even force teachers and professors to scrap homework altogether.

ChatGPT has been “trained on a gigantic sample of text from the internet” and can “understand human language, conduct conversations with humans and generate detailed text that many have said is human-like and quite impressive”, said the Daily Mail .

Kevin Bryan, an associate professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto, tweeted that he was “shocked” by the capabilities of ChatGPT after challenging the AI to answer numerous exam questions and found that it gave A-grade answers.

Evidence suggests that homework can bring non-academic benefits, particularly for younger school students. These include “learning the importance of responsibility, managing time, developing study habits, and staying with a task until it is completed”, said Reading Rockets , a national public media literacy initiative in the US.

The British Council agreed that it helps to develop “study habits and independent learning”, as well as helping students to “retain information taught in the classroom” and involving parents in learning.

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp weighed in on the debate recently, urging parents to “enjoy the weekend” with their children, branding homework a “waste of time”.

“Find a book, cuddle up and read it together, or watch Winterwatch, or cook something with kids doing all the weighing and chopping. Then put that in the homework diary and enjoy your weekend with your kids,” she wrote on Twitter .

“There is nothing better for children than spending time with you, talking, doing and learning at the same time,” she said. “Following a recipe is reading, maths, science and fine motor skills in one activity.”

Homework can be a good way for parents to stay up to date with what their child is being taught in class as well as monitor their progress. But the extent to which parental involvement with homework is beneficial for children is still a matter of debate.

According to Reading Rockets, some studies show that homework assignments that require interactions between students and parents are “more likely to be turned in” than assignments that don’t require parental input. But other studies have found that “parent involvement in homework has no impact on student achievement”.

Educators and parents responded to President Higgins’ comments to say homework is a source of stress for all involved.

Replying to a Facebook post by Hull Live , one teacher said it was “a pain sourcing, copying, chasing and marking it”, while other parents said homework placed undue stress on young children. “I think they do enough work in the school hours as it is,” said one parent, while another commented: “Children need to switch off when they get home. No wonder children suffer mental health issues, they are burnt out before they reach secondary school.”

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  Sorcha Bradley is a writer at The Week and a regular on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. She worked at The Week magazine for a year and a half before taking up her current role with the digital team, where she mostly covers UK current affairs and politics. Before joining The Week, Sorcha worked at slow-news start-up Tortoise Media. She has also written for Sky News, The Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard and Grazia magazine, among other publications. She has a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London, where she specialised in political journalism.

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does homework promote learning pros and cons

Pros and cons of homework: A parent's guide

.css-26rqae{font-weight:500;} to homework or not to homework, that is the debate, the pros of homework.

Reinforces learning: Homework serves as a tool for reinforcing what kids learn in class, providing them with an opportunity to practice and solidify new concepts.

Develops skills: Beyond academic learning, homework helps develop essential life skills such as time management, critical thinking, and self-discipline.

Encourages responsibility: Homework assignments can encourage kids to take charge of their learning journey, fostering a sense of independence and accountability.

The cons of homework

Impact on mental health: An excessive amount of homework can lead to feelings of stress or anxiety, particularly when kids feel overwhelmed by expectations.

Diminishes free time: Homework that extends beyond reasonable limits can encroach upon kids' free time, which is also important for rest, family bonding, and overall well-being.

Exterior factors: Not all households or schedules are conducive to completing homework, creating potential disparities in academic performance among students from different backgrounds or living situations. 

Tips to balance the pros and cons

Set a routine.

Establishing a regular homework schedule can help kids manage their tasks more effectively and avoid last-minute stress.

Work with your school or teacher to set reasonable limits and know when enough is enough. Some educational experts suggest limits like 10 minutes per year of age or grade level. Others suggest capping overall homework in overall minutes, especially depending on the age. For example, no more than 30 minutes or one hour per night.  

Create a conducive environment

Creating a quiet, distraction-free space for homework can make the task less daunting and more engaging.

Communicate

Open communication with teachers can provide clarity on whether the homework load is manageable or overwhelming. If it feels like too much, don't hesitate to voice your concerns.

Remember, homework is a tool that can enhance a child's learning experience when used appropriately. However, balance is key. Too much homework can lead to stress, while too little may leave gaps in learning.

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27 Top Homework Pros and Cons

homework pros and cons

There are both pros and cons of homework. This makes whether schools should assign homework a great debating topic for students.

On the side of the pros, homework is beneficial because it can be great for helping students get through their required coursework and reinforce required knowledge. But it also interferes with life outside of school.

Key arguments for homework include the fact it gives students structure, improves their learning, and improves parent-teacher relationships.

Arguments for the cons of homework include the fact it interferes with playtime and causes stress to children, leading to arguments that homework should be banned .

Pros and Cons of Homework (Table Summary)

Pros of homework, 1. homework teaches discipline and habit.

Discipline and habit are two soft skills that children need to develop so they can succeed in life.

Regular daily homework is a simple way that discipline and habit are reinforced. Teachers can talk to students about what they do when they get home from school.

They might develop a habit like getting changed into a new set of clothes, having an afternoon snack, then getting out their homework.

Teachers can also help students visualize these habits and disciplines by talking about where they will do their homework (kitchen table?) and when .

2. Homework helps parents know what’s being learned in class

Parents often appreciate being kept in the loop about what is going on in their child’s classroom. Homework is great for this!

Teachers can set homework based on the current unit of work in the classroom. If the students are learning about dinosaurs, the homework can be a task on dinosaurs.

This helps the teachers to show the parents the valuable learning that’s taking place, and allows parents to feel comfortable that the teacher is doing a great job.

3. Homework teaches time management

Children often have a wide range of after school activities to undertake. They need to develop the skill of managing all these activities to fit homework in.

At school, children’s time is closely managed and controlled. Every lesson ends and begins with a bell or a teacher command.

At some point, children need to learn to manage their own time. Homework is an easy way to start refining this important soft skill.

4. Homework gives students self-paced learning time

At school, a lesson has a clear beginning and end. Students who are struggling may be interrupted and need more time. Homework allows them to work on these tasks at their own pace.

When I was studying math in high school, I never got my work done in time. I understood concepts slower than my peers, and I needed more time to reinforce concepts.

Homework was my chance to keep up, by studying at my own pace.

5. Homework can reduce screen time

Paper-based homework can take students away from their afternoon cartoons and video games and get them working on something of more value.

Screen time is one of the biggest concerns for educators and parents in the 21 st Century. Children spend approximately 5 to 7 hours in front of screens per day.

While screens aren’t all bad, children generally spend more time at screens than is necessary. Homework tasks such as collecting things from the yard or interviewing grandparents gets kids away from screens and into more active activities.

6. Homework gives students productive afternoon activities

Too often, children get home from school and switch off their brains by watching cartoons or playing video games. Homework can be more productive.

Good homework should get students actively thinking. A teacher can set homework that involves creating a product, conducting interviews with family, or writing a story based on things being learned in class.

But even homework that involves repetition of math and spelling tasks can be far more productive than simply watching television.

7. Homework reinforces information taught in class

For difficult tasks, students often need to be exposed to content over and over again until they reach mastery of the topic .

To do this, sometimes you need to do old-fashioned repetition of tasks. Take, for example, algebra. Students will need to repeat the process over and over again so that they will instinctively know how to complete the task when they sit their standardized test.

Of course, the teacher needs to teach and reinforce these foundational skills at school before independent homework practice takes place.

8. Homework helps motivated students to get ahead

Many students who have set themselves the goal of coming first in their class want to do homework to get an advantage over their peers.

Students who want to excel should not be stopped from doing this. If they enjoy homework and it makes them smarter or better at a task, then they should be allowed to do this.

9. Homework gives parents and children time together

When a parent helps their child with homework (by educating and quizzing them, not cheating!), they get a chance to bond.

Working together to complete a task can be good for the relationship between the parent and the child. The parents can also feel good that they’re supporting the child to become more educated.

10. Homework improves parent-teacher relationships

Parents get an inside look at what’s happening at school to improve their trust with the teacher, while also helping the teacher do their job.

Trust between parents and teachers is very important. Parents want to know the teacher is working hard to support students and help them learn. By looking at their children’s homework, they get a good idea of what’s going on in the classroom.

The parent can also feel good about helping the teacher’s mission by sitting with the child during homework and helping to reinforce what’s been learned at school.

11. Homework helps teachers get through the crowded curriculum

Teachers are increasingly asked to teach more and more content each year. Homework can be helpful in making sure it all gets done.

Decades ago, teachers had time to dedicate lessons to repeating and practicing content learned. Today, they’re under pressure to teach one thing then quickly move onto the next. We call this phenomenon the “crowded curriculum”.

Today, teachers may need to teach the core skills in class then ask students to go home and practice what’s been taught to fast-track learning.

12. Homework provides spaced repetition for long-term memorization

Spaced repetition is a strategy that involves quizzing students intermittently on things learned in previous weeks and months.

For example, if students learned division in January, they may forget about it by June. But if the teacher provides division questions for homework in January, March, and May, then the students always keep that knowledge of how to do division in their mind.

Spaced repetition theory states that regularly requiring students to recall information that’s been pushed to the back of their mind can help, over time, commit that information to their long-term memory and prevent long-term forgetting.

13. Homework supports a flipped learning model to make the most of time with the teacher

Flipped learning is a model of education where students do preparation before class so they get to class prepared to learn.

Examples of flipped learning include pre-teaching vocabulary (e.g. giving children new words to learn for homework that they will use in a future in-class lesson), and asking students to watch preparatory videos before class.

This model of homework isn’t about reinforcing things learned in class, but learning things before class to be more prepared for lessons.

14. Homework improves student achievement

An influential review of the literature on homework by Mazano and Pickering (2007) found that homework does improve student achievement.

Another review of the literature by Cooper, Robinson and Patall (2006) similarly found that homework improves achievement. In this review, the authors highlighted that homework appeared more beneficial for high school students’ grades than elementary school students’ grades.

Several progressive education critics , especially Alfie Kohn , have claimed that homework does not help student grades. We have not found the critics’ evidence to be as compelling.

15. Homework helps the education system keep up with other countries’ systems

All nations are competing with one another to have the best education system (measured by standardized tests ). If other countries are assigning homework and your country isn’t, your country will be at a disadvantage.

The main way education systems are compared is the OECD ranking of education systems. This ranking compared standardized test scores on major subjects.

Western nations have been slipping behind Asian nations for several decades. Many Asian education systems have a culture of assigning a lot of homework. To keep up, America may also need to assign homework and encourage their kids to do more homework.

See Also: Homework Statistics List

Cons of Homework

1. homework interferes with play time.

Play-based learning is some of the best learning that can possibly occurs. When children go home from school, the play they do before sunset is hugely beneficial for their development.

Homework can prevent children from playing. Instead, they’re stuck inside repeating tasks on standardized homework sheets.

Of course, if there is no homework, parents would have to make sure children are engaging in beneficial play as well, rather than simply watching TV.

2. Homework interferes with extracurricular activities

After school, many children want to participate in extracurricular activities like sporting and community events.

However, if too much homework is assigned to learners, their parents may not be able to sign them up to co-curricular activities in the school or extracurricular activities outside of the school. This can prevent students from having well-rounded holistic development.

3. Homework discourages students from going outside and getting exercise

Homework is usually an indoors activity. Usually, teachers will assign spelling, math, or science tasks to be repeated through the week on paper or a computer.

But children need time to go outside and get exercise. The CDC recommends children ages 6 to 17 need 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day.

Unfortunately, being stuck indoors may prevent children from getting that much needed exercise for well-rounded development.

4. Homework leads to unsupervised and unsupportive learning

When students get stuck on a task at school, the teacher is there to help. But when students are stuck on a homework task, no support is available.

This leads to a situation where students’ learning and development is harmed. Furthermore, those students who do understand the task can go ahead and get more homework practice done while struggling students can’t progress because the teacher isn’t there to help them through their hurdles.

Often, it’s down to parents to pick up the challenge of teaching their children during homework time. Unfortunately, not all students have parents nearby to help them during homework time.

5. Homework can encourage cheating

When children study without supervision, they have the opportunity to cheat without suffering consequences.

They could, for example, copy their sibling’s homework or use the internet to find answers.

Worse, some parents may help their child to cheat or do the homework for the child. In these cases, homework has no benefit of the child but may teach them bad and unethical habits.

6. Homework contributes to a culture of poor work-life balance

Homework instils a corporate attitude that prioritizes work above everything else. It prepares students for a social norm where you do work for your job even when you’re off the clock.

Students will grow up thinking it’s normal to clock off from their job, go home, and continue to check emails and complete work they didn’t get done during the day.

This sort of culture is bad for society. It interferes with family and recreation time and encourages bosses to behave like they’re in charge of your whole life.

7. Homework discourages children from taking up hobbies

There is an argument to be made that children need spare time so they can learn about what they like and don’t like.

If students have spare time after school, they could fill it up with hobbies. The student can think about what they enjoy (playing with dolls, riding bikes, singing, writing stories).

Downtime encourages people to develop hobbies. Students need this downtime, and homework can interfere with this.

8. Homework creates unfairness between children with parents helping and those who don’t

At school, students generally have a level playing field. They are all in the same classroom with the same resources and the same teacher. At home, it’s a different story.

Some children have parents, siblings, and internet to rely upon. Meanwhile, others have nothing but themselves and a pen.

Those children who are lucky enough to have parents helping out can get a significant advantage over their peers, causing unfairness and inequalities that are not of their own making.

9. Homework causes stress and anxiety

In a study by Galloway, Connor and Pope (2013), they found that 56% of students identified homework as the greatest cause of stress in their lives.

Stress among young people can impact their happiness and mental health. Furthermore, there is an argument to “let kids be kids”. We have a whole life of work and pressure ahead of us. Childhood is a time to be enjoyed without the pressures of life.

10. Homework is often poor-quality work

Teachers will often assign homework that is the less important work and doesn’t have a clear goal.

Good teachers know that a lesson needs to be planned-out with a beginning, middle and end. There usually should be formative assessment as well, which is assessment of students as they learn (rather than just at the end).

But homework doesn’t have the structure of a good lesson. It’s repetition of information already learned, which is a behaviorist learning model that is now outdated for many tasks.

11. Homework is solitary learning

Most education theorists today believe that the best learning occurs in social situations.

Sociocultural learning requires students to express their thoughts and opinions and listen to other people’s ideas. This helps them improve and refine their own thinking through dialogue.

But homework usually takes place alone at the kitchen table. Students don’t have anyone to talk with about what they’re doing, meaning their learning is limited.

12. Homework widens social inequality

Homework can advantage wealthier students and disadvantage poorer students.

In Kralovec and Buell’s (2001) book The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning , the authors argue that poorer students are less likely to have the resources to complete their homework properly.

For example, they might not have the pens, paper, and drawing implements to complete a paper task. Similarly, they might not have the computer, internet connection, or even books to do appropriate research at home.

Parents in poorer households also often work shift work and multiple jobs meaning they have less time to help their children with their homework.

Homework can be both good and bad – there are both advantages and disadvantages of homework. In general, it’s often the case that it depends on the type of homework that is assigned. Well-planned homework used in moderation and agreed upon by teachers, parents and students can be helpful. But other homework can cause serious stress, inequality, and lifestyle imbalance for students.

Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987–2003.  Review of educational research ,  76 (1), 1-62.

Galloway, M., Conner, J., & Pope, D. (2013). Nonacademic effects of homework in privileged, high-performing high schools.  The journal of experimental education ,  81 (4), 490-510. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220973.2012.745469

Kralovec, E., & Buell, J. (2001).  The end of homework: How homework disrupts families, overburdens children, and limits learning . Beacon Press.

Pressman, R. M., Sugarman, D. B., Nemon, M. L., Desjarlais, J., Owens, J. A., & Schettini-Evans, A. (2015). Homework and family stress: With consideration of parents’ self confidence, educational level, and cultural background.  The American Journal of Family Therapy ,  43 (4), 297-313. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2015.1061407

Ren, H., Zhou, Z., Liu, W., Wang, X., & Yin, Z. (2017). Excessive homework, inadequate sleep, physical inactivity and screen viewing time are major contributors to high paediatric obesity.  Acta Paediatrica ,  106 (1), 120-127. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.13640

Yeo, S. C., Tan, J., Lo, J. C., Chee, M. W., & Gooley, J. J. (2020). Associations of time spent on homework or studying with nocturnal sleep behavior and depression symptoms in adolescents from Singapore.  Sleep Health ,  6 (6), 758-766. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2020.04.011

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The Homework Debate: How Homework Benefits Students

This post has been updated as of December 2017.

In another of our blog posts,  The Case Against Homework , we articulated several points of view against homework as standard practice for teachers. However, a variety of lessons, content-related and beyond, can be taught or reinforced through homework and are worth exploring. Read on!

Four ways homework aids students’ academic achievement

Homework provides an opportunity for parents to interact with and understand the content their students are learning so they can provide another means of academic support for students. Memphis Parent writer Glenda Faye Pryor-Johnson says that, “When your child does homework, you do homework,” and notes that this is an opportunity for parents to model good behavior for their children.

Pryor-Johnson also identifies four qualities children develop when they complete homework that can help them become high-achieving students:

  • Responsibility
  • Time management
  • Perseverance
  • Self-esteem

While these cannot be measured on standardized tests, perseverance has garnered a lot of attention as an essential skill for successful students. Regular accomplishments like finishing homework build self-esteem, which aids students’ mental and physical health. Responsibility and time management are highly desirable qualities that benefit students long after they graduate.

NYU and Duke professors refute the idea that homework is unrelated to student success

In response to the National School Board Association’s Center for Public Education’s findings that homework was not conclusively related to student success, historian and NYU professor Diane Ravitch contends that the study’s true discovery was that students who did not complete homework or who lacked the resources to do so suffered poor outcomes.

Ravitch believes the study’s data only supports the idea that those who complete homework benefit from homework. She also cites additional benefits of homework: when else would students be allowed to engage thoughtfully with a text or write a complete essay? Constraints on class time require that such activities are given as outside assignments.

5 studies support a significant relationship between homework completion and academic success

Duke University professor Harris Cooper supports Ravitch’s assessment, saying that, “Across five studies, the average student who did homework had a higher unit test score than the students not doing homework.” Dr. Cooper and his colleagues analyzed dozens of studies on whether homework is beneficial in a 2006 publication, “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987–2003. ”

This analysis found 12 less-authoritative studies that link achievement to time spent on homework, but control for many other factors that could influence the outcome. Finally, the research team identified 35 studies that found a positive correlation between homework and achievement, but only after elementary school. Dr. Cooper concluded that younger students might be less capable of  benefiting from homework due to undeveloped study habits or other factors.

Recommended amount of homework varies by grade level

“Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?” also identifies the amount homework that serves as a learning tool for students. While practice improves test scores at all grade levels, “Homework for junior high students appears to reach the point of diminishing returns after about 90 minutes a night. For high school students, the positive line continues to climb until between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours of homework a night, after which returns diminish.”

Dr. Cooper’s conclusion—homework is important, but discretion can and should be used when assigning it—addresses the valid concerns of homework critics. While the act of completing homework has benefits in terms of developing good habits in students, homework must prove useful for students so that they buy in to the process and complete their assignments. If students (or their parents) feel homework is a useless component of their learning, they will skip it—and miss out on the major benefits, content and otherwise, that homework has to offer.

Continue reading :  Ending the Homework Debate: Expert Advice on What Works

Monica Fuglei is a graduate of the University of Nebraska in Omaha and a current adjunct faculty member of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado, where she teaches composition and creative writing.

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Is Homework Good for Kids? Here’s What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

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Pros and Cons of Homework: What You Should Know

does homework promote learning pros and cons

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Homework can be a great tool for students to improve their academic performance, but there are also some drawbacks.

Some pros to assigning homework are that it can help students practice and master the material they learned in class, it can help students develop good study habits, and it can give students a sense of accomplishment. Some cons to assigning homework are that it can be a burden for students if they have a lot of homework to do, it can take away time from family and friends, and it can cause students to stress out.

In this post, I am going to explore the various benefits and drawbacks of using homework in your classroom. Let’s get started!

Pros of homework

Homework can be a great tool for you to improve the learning process of your students if you use it correctly. The following are some of the benefits of homework for teaching and learning:

1. It helps students learn.

Homework has been proven to help students learn effectively. It can help them retain information, increase their focus and improve their recall. By providing a routine for homework, students are able to better manage their time and stay on track with their education.

For example, homework can help students keep track of their progress and reinforce what they have learned. It can also help them focus on what they are doing in class, which will improve the amount of time that they spend in class.

2. It improves test scores.

Homework is a common assignment that students receive in school. It can be thought of as a way for teachers to help students learn and practice the material they have learned. Research has shown that homework can improve students’ test scores. This is because homework helps students learn the material more thoroughly and retain it better.

If a student does their homework, they will be able to answer questions from the test that they will take on that topic. The more homework a student does, the better their test scores will be. For example, in one study, it was found that homework helps improve students’ scores on standardized tests . The more homework a student doe s, the better it is for their grades.

3. It increases student engagement and motivation.

Homework has been proven to increase student engagement and motivation. When done correctly, homework can help students learn by engaging them in challenging tasks and helping them develop skills.

Homework can have a number of benefits for students, both in terms of engagement and motivation. By helping to reinforce the learning process, homework can help students retain information better and increase their understanding of what they are studying. With this, students become engaged and motivated to continue learning.

Additionally, homework can provide a sense of accomplishment and help students feel responsible for their own learning. This motivates students to engage in their studies.

Finally, homework can be used as an opportunity for students to connect with other classmates and share ideas about the material they are studying. Connecting and sharing ideas with classmates about homework helps students become engaged and motivated.

4. It enhances productivity.

Homework has been shown to be beneficial to student productivity in the classroom. Homework allows students to focus on their work and learn more about the material being taught. It also helps students develop better study habits, which can lead to them performing better in class.

Additionally, homework can provide a sense of accomplishment that can encourage students to continue learning. Overall, homework enhances student productivity in the classroom by helping them focus on their work and learn more about the material being taught.

5. It teaches responsibility.

Every student knows the feeling of dread when they have to do their homework. For some, it can be tedious and time-consuming. But homework has a far bigger purpose than just helping students pass exams-it teaches them how to be responsible citizens in the classroom.

Homework can help students develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, organizational skills, and time management skills. It also encourages them to stay on top of their studies and stay up-to-date with new information. In short, homework helps students become better learners overall.

While there are many benefits to doing homework, it can also be frustrating when it’s not done on time or when it’s not done well. That’s why teachers value homework so much; it helps students learn how to be responsible members of society.

6. Homework develops time management skills.

Many students believe that homework is a waste of time because they think it only helps teachers track their progress and keeps them from having fun. In reality, homework is one of the most important tools teachers have to help students develop time management skills.

The reason homework helps students develop these skills is because it forces students to focus on their schoolwork in addition to their other responsibilities. By doing this, students learn how to manage their time better and stay on track with their goals.

Additionally, homework can also help students learn how to problem-solve and work independently. When students are able to do these things, they are more likely to be successful in the classroom.

In all, homework can help students learn how to manage their time by planning and organizing their work, dividing up tasks into manageable chunks, prioritizing homework over other responsibilities, and scheduling time for schoolwork.

7. It helps students develop study skills.

When students are assigned homework, they are learning to develop important study skills. Homework helps students learn how to organize and focus their attention, manage their time, and build discipline. It also teaches them how to solve problems. These skills will help the student in the classroom and in life.

For example, a student who can better organize their time and work independently may be more likely to finish homework assignments that are harder.

8. Homework builds self-discipline.

When students work on their homework, they are developing self-discipline. Self-discipline is the ability to focus, organize and manage time, plan, solve problems, and follow directions. Self-discipline is vital to success in school and in life.

For example, a student who has developed self-discipline is less likely to be distracted by friends and television, which are two common distractions that many students face in school.

9. Homework helps students learn to work independently.

When students are required to complete their homework, they become more independent learners. They gain skills in time management, organization, and problem-solving. These skills will help them in the classroom and in life.

For example, a student who has learned to work independently is more likely to be able to plan and schedule his or her time throughout the day, which will help him or her become more organized.

10. Homework helps students learn to follow directions.

In the classroom, following directions can be difficult for students. This is especially true for students who have difficulty paying attention to what is happening in class. Homework can help students learn how to follow directions.

By doing homework, students are required to complete a task that has been assigned by the teacher. This makes it easier for the student to pay attention in class and follow directions.

For example, students often get homework that requires them to pay attention and follow directions before completing the tasks assigned to them. With that, they learn to follow instructions and directions, which is a critical skill in life.

11. It enhances critical thinking skills.

How does homework enhance the critical thinking skills of students in the classroom? Homework can help improve the critical thinking skills of students in the classroom by requiring them to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical context.

In addition, homework can also help students learn how to use their critical thinking skills to solve problems. Furthermore, homework can help students develop patience and perseverance when faced with difficult tasks. Overall, homework helps students become better thinkers and more effective learners.

12. It boosts academic achievement.

Homework can boost academic achievement by helping students focus and retain information, work ahead in their lessons, and build valuable study skills.

Additionally, staying organized and completing tasks on time can help students build good habits that will carry over into other areas of their lives. For example, homework helps students develop skills that propel them to become successful in the classroom.

13. It promotes teamwork and cooperation.

Many people believe that homework promotes teamwork and cooperation among students in the classroom. This is because homework often requires students to work together on tasks, which helps them learn how to work cooperatively.

Additionally, when students are required to complete homework, they are more likely to try hard and cooperate with their classmates. This is because they know that if they do their homework, they will receive good grades.

For example, when students are given group homework, it can help them to learn how to cooperate and work with other people to achieve a particular task.

14. Prepare for future academic challenges.

Homework can help students better prepare for future academic challenges. This is because it allows them to develop skills that will be useful in their academic careers.

For example, homework can help students learn how to organize their information, study for tests, and think critically. In addition, homework can also help students build vocabulary and learn new concepts.

15. It promotes good work habits.

The benefits of homework are well known among educators, but what about students? There are many reasons why homework promotes good work habits among students.

One reason is that it helps students learn how to manage their time. They learn how to prioritize and how to plan their days. Homework also teaches critical-thinking skills. Students must be able to analyze information and come up with solutions on their own.

Homework can also help strengthen relationships between parents and children, as parents support and supervise students to complete their homework. Parents can see the value in homework, and children may have a better attitude towards school if they know their parents expect them to complete their work.

16. It enhances problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving is a critical skill for students to develop. Problem-solving is the process of making decisions about how to solve problems. Homework can help students learn problem-solving skills by providing opportunities to practice them. In fact, homework has been shown to improve problem-solving skills .

One reason why homework is so effective in teaching problem-solving skills is that it provides a consistent and systematic format for practicing these skills. Homework assignments provide students with opportunities to practice critical thinking skills, identify and solve problems, and develop persistence. Additionally, homework can help students learn how to work cooperatively with others. All of these abilities are essential for success in school and in life.

17. A greater understanding of the material.

Homework has been shown to enhance a greater understanding of the material among students. This is because homework allows students to practice what they have learned and to reinforce it. It also allows them to explore the material further and experiment with it.

In addition, homework can help students develop their critical thinking skills. This is because homework helps students not to only understand the material, but to also organize it and think about it. It can help them develop their memory and recall abilities, which are essential for success in school and life.

Cons of homework

When you don’t use homework appropriately in the classroom, the following problems will arise:

1. It can leave students feeling overwhelmed.

Homework can be a daunting task for students, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and stressed. As homework has become more and more common in schools, students are often left with little choice but to complete it.

This can lead to students feeling overwhelmed and stressed, as they have no break from the workload and are often expected to perform well in class while also completing the homework. This can create a difficult balance for students, as they are faced with two competing demands.

2. It can be a distraction from other activities or interests.

Homework can be a distraction from other activities or interests because it can be time-consuming, boring, and repetitive. It can also stress people out, which can lead to problems at school or in their personal lives. There are ways to make homework less of a distraction and more of a learning experience. For example, teachers could make assignments that are relevant to the class material, make sure the homework is done in a reasonable amount of time, and give students feedback on their work.

There are a few reasons why homework can be a distraction from other activities or interests. One reason is that homework often requires concentration and focus, which can be difficult to maintain when there are other distractions around. Additionally, many students find it boring or tedious to do homework, which can lead to them losing interest in the task overall.

Finally, because homework often takes up a large amount of time each night, it can prevent students from spending time with friends or family members, which can also lead to boredom and loneliness.

3. It can create stress and anxiety in students.

Homework can create stress and anxiety in students for a variety of reasons. For some, homework can be a daunting task that requires hours of uninterrupted concentration. For others, it may be a source of frustration due to the lack of consistency in its delivery or because it conflicts with other duties outside of school.

Regardless of the reason, homework can often lead to feelings of stress and frustration. This is particularly true for students who are struggling academically or who have other responsibilities at home. Consequently, homework can be a major contributor to stress and anxiety in students.

4. It can lead to cheating.

Cheating on homework has become a common phenomenon among students across the globe. There are many reasons why this may be the case, but one of the most common reasons is that homework can be a source of stress for students. When assignments are difficult or when there is pressure to perform well, some students may feel like they have to cheat in order to get through them.

Another reason why cheating on homework can occur is that it can be an easy way for students to get ahead. If they know the answers to certain questions, they can simply copy them off of their classmates and submit their work as their own. This type of cheating is unfair to other students who have worked hard on their assignments.

And finally, it can be a way for students to hide their mistakes or try to cheat on tests. All of these reasons are why homework should not be given out as punishment, but rather as a way to help students learn and improve.

5. It can cause health problems.

How can homework cause health problems for students? Numerous studies have shown that a large number of students experience negative health effects from doing homework. These health problems can include stress, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression.

One reason why homework can be so problematic is that it often takes up a lot of time and energy that should be spent on other activities. Additionally, homework can be extremely tedious and requires a great deal of concentration. For these reasons, many students find it difficult to complete it proficiently.

Consequently, excessive amounts of homework may actually be harmful to your overall health.

6. It can interfere with family time.

Homework can interfere with students’ family time if the student is not able to complete their homework in a reasonable amount of time. This can lead to tension between the student and their parents, as well as less time for the student to spend with their families.

Excessive homework can create stress for parents, who may have to pick up the children after school or help them with their studies. Ultimately, homework can cause tension between students and their parents, and it can be a barrier to communication between the two parties.

There are many benefits to having a homework system in place, but it must be done in a way that does not interfere with family time.

7. It can interfere with sleep.

Homework can interfere with the sleep of students for a variety of reasons. For some students, homework can lead to feelings of overwhelm and stress. This can disrupt the natural sleep cycle and cause students to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Additionally, completing homework can take up time that could be spent relaxing and enjoying downtime with friends or family. As a result, homework may actually reduce the amount of sleep that students get each night.

8. Too much homework can affect students’ achievement.

Too much homework can have negative consequences for students’ academic achievement and future success. Too much homework can lead to a decrease in student productivity, diminished focus, and diminished enjoyment of learning.

Furthermore, it has been shown that students who do too much homework tend to have lower grades and lower test scores. There are several reasons why too much homework can have these detrimental effects.

First, when students are excessively busy with assigned work, they may lose opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities or other enrichment programs that could help them improve their skills and knowledge.

Second, when students become bogged down by excessive amounts of homework, they may find it difficult to devote sufficient time to studying for tests or completing other academic tasks.

Third, when students are spending too much time working on schoolwork rather than engaging in other enjoyable activities, they may lose interest in learning and forfeit valuable opportunities for personal growth.

All of the above negatively impact the academic achievement of students.

9. Homework can lead to boredom.

Many students find homework to be a tedious and time-consuming chore. This can lead to boredom and a lack of focus in the classroom, which can adversely affect student learning. Too much homework can actually make students feel tired and stressed, making them less likely to enjoy their schoolwork.

To conclude, homework can be a great way to help students learn and retain information. If done correctly, however, homework provides valuable instruction that reinforces what was learned in class. Too much of it, on the other hand, can result in students feeling overwhelmed and not getting the benefits they need from their studies. It’s important for educators to strike a balance between providing enough challenges for students while also ensuring they are well-rested so they are able to excel academically.

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does homework promote learning pros and cons

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does homework promote learning pros and cons

15 Should Homework Be Banned Pros and Cons

Homework was a staple of the public and private schooling experience for many of us growing up. There were long nights spent on book reports, science projects, and all of those repetitive math sheets. In many ways, it felt like an inevitable part of the educational experience. Unless you could power through all of your assignments during your free time in class, then there was going to be time spent at home working on specific subjects.

More schools are looking at the idea of banning homework from the modern educational experience. Instead of sending work home with students each night, they are finding alternative ways to ensure that each student can understand the curriculum without involving the uncertainty of parental involvement.

Although banning homework might seem like an unorthodox process, there are legitimate advantages to consider with this effort. There are some disadvantages which some families may encounter as well.

These are the updated lists of the pros and cons of banning homework to review.

List of the Pros of Banning Homework

1. Giving homework to students does not always improve their academic outcomes. The reality of homework for the modern student is that we do not know if it is helpful to have extra work assigned to them outside of the classroom. Every study that has looked at the subject has had design flaws which causes the data collected to be questionable at best. Although there is some information to suggest that students in seventh grade and higher can benefit from limited homework, banning it for students younger than that seems to be beneficial for their learning experience.

2. Banning homework can reduce burnout issues with students. Teachers are seeing homework stress occur in the classroom more frequently today than ever before. Almost half of all high school teachers in North America have seen this issue with their students at some point during the year. About 25% of grade school teachers say that they have seen the same thing.

When students are dealing with the impact of homework on their lives, it can have a tremendously adverse impact. One of the most cited reasons for students dropping out of school is that they cannot complete their homework on time.

3. Banning homework would increase the amount of family time available to students. Homework creates a significant disruption to family relationships. Over half of all parents in North America say that they have had a significant argument with their children over homework in the past month. 1/3 of families say that homework is their primary source of struggle in the home. Not only does it reduce the amount of time that everyone has to spend together, it reduces the chances that parents have to teach their own skills and belief systems to their kids.

4. It reduces the negative impact of homework on the health of a student. Many students suffer academically when they cannot finish a homework assignment on time. Although assumptions are often made about the time management skills of the individual when this outcome occurs, the reasons why it happens is usually more complex. It may be too difficult, too boring, or there may not be enough time in the day to complete the work.

When students experience failure in this area, it can lead to severe mental health issues. Some perceive themselves as a scholarly failure, which translates to an inability to live life successfully. It can disrupt a desire to learn. There is even an increased risk of suicide for some youth because of this issue. Banning it would reduce these risks immediately.

5. Eliminating homework would allow for an established sleep cycle. The average high school student requires between 8-10 hours of sleep to function at their best the next day. Grade-school students may require an extra hour or two beyond that figure. When teachers assign homework, then it increases the risk for each individual that they will not receive the amount that they require each night.

When children do not get enough sleep, a significant rest deficit occurs which can impact their ability to pay attention in school. It can cause unintended weight gain. There may even be issues with emotional control. Banning homework would help to reduce these risks as well.

6. It increases the amount of socialization time that students receive. People who are only spending time in school and then going home to do more work are at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation. When these emotions are present, then a student is more likely to feel “down and out” mentally and physically. They lack meaningful connections with other people. These feelings are the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. If students are spending time on homework, then they are not spending time connecting with their family and friends.

7. It reduces the repetition that students face in the modern learning process. Most of the tasks that homework requires of students is repetitive and uninteresting. Kids love to resolve challenges on tasks that they are passionate about at that moment in their lives. Forcing them to complete the same problems repetitively as a way to “learn” core concepts can create issues with knowledge retention later in life. When you add in the fact that most lessons sent for homework must be done by themselves, banning homework will reduce the repetition that students face, allowing for a better overall outcome.

8. Home environments can be chaotic. Although some students can do homework in a quiet room without distractions, that is not the case for most kids. There are numerous events that happen at home which can pull a child’s attention away from the work that their teacher wants them to do. It isn’t just the Internet, video games, and television which are problematic either. Household chores, family issues, employment, and athletic requirements can make it a challenge to get the assigned work finished on time.

List of the Cons of Banning Homework

1. Homework allows parents to be involved with the educational process. Parents need to know what their children are learning in school. Even if they ask their children about what they are learning, the answers tend to be in generalities instead of specifics. By sending home work from the classroom, it allows parents to see and experience the work that their kids are doing when they are in school during the day. Then moms and dads can get involved with the learning process to reinforce the core concepts that were discovered by their children each day.

2. It can help parents and teachers identify learning disabilities. Many children develop a self-defense mechanism which allows them to appear like any other kid that is in their classroom. This process allows them to hide learning disabilities which may be hindering their educational progress. The presence of homework makes it possible for parents and teachers to identify this issue because kids can’t hide their struggles when they must work 1-on-1 with their parents on specific subjects. Banning homework would eliminate 50% of the opportunities to identify potential issues immediately.

3. Homework allows teachers to observe how their students understand the material. Teachers often use homework as a way to gauge how well a student is understanding the materials they are learning. Although some might point out that assignments and exams in the classroom can do the same thing, testing often requires preparation at home. It creates more anxiety and stress sometimes then even homework does. That is why banning it can be problematic for some students. Some students experience more pressure than they would during this assessment process when quizzes and tests are the only measurement of their success.

4. It teaches students how to manage their time wisely. As people grow older, they realize that time is a finite commodity. We must manage it wisely to maximize our productivity. Homework assignments are a way to encourage the development of this skill at an early age. The trick is to keep the amount of time required for the work down to a manageable level. As a general rule, students should spend about 10 minutes each school day doing homework, organizing their schedule around this need. If there are scheduling conflicts, then this process offers families a chance to create priorities.

5. Homework encourages students to be accountable for their role. Teachers are present in the classroom to offer access to information and skill-building opportunities that can improve the quality of life for each student. Administrators work to find a curriculum that will benefit the most people in an efficient way. Parents work hard to ensure their kids make it to school on time, follow healthy routines, and communicate with their school district to ensure the most effective learning opportunities possible. None of that matters if the student is not invested in the work in the first place. Homework assignments not only teach children how to work independently, but they also show them how to take responsibility for their part of the overall educational process.

6. It helps to teach important life lessons. Homework is an essential tool in the development of life lessons, such as communicating with others or comprehending something they have just read. It teaches kids how to think, solve problems, and even build an understanding for the issues that occur in our society right now. Many of the issues that lead to the idea to ban homework occur because someone in the life of a student communicated to them that this work was a waste of time. There are times in life when people need to do things that they don’t like or want to do. Homework helps a student begin to find the coping skills needed to be successful in that situation.

7. Homework allows for further research into class materials. Most classrooms offer less than 1 hour of instruction per subject during the day. For many students, that is not enough time to obtain a firm grasp on the materials being taught. Having homework assignments allows a student to perform more research, using their at-home tools to take a deeper look into the materials that would otherwise be impossible if homework was banned. That process can lead to a more significant understanding of the concepts involved, reducing anxiety levels because they have a complete grasp on the materials.

The pros and cons of banning homework is a decision that ultimately lies with each school district. Parents always have the option to pursue homeschooling or online learning if they disagree with the decisions that are made in this area. Whether you’re for more homework or want to see less of it, we can all agree on the fact that the absence of any reliable data about its usefulness makes it a challenge to know for certain which option is the best one to choose in this debate.

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Pros and Cons of Homework

does homework promote learning pros and cons

“Not until you finish your homework.”

“I want you to finish your dinner and get right to work on your homework.”

“Is your homework done? Then, no, you get up those stairs and finish first.”

We’ve all heard something similar from our mom, dad, or caretaker. Homework is a big staple of the American school scene, just like lockers, the school bell, and big yellow buses. Portrayed in media from the Brady Bunch to Cocomelon, homework has been an academic given for decades. 

Despite its popularity, this after-school activity has been under scrutiny for over a century. Britannica explains , “In the early 1900s, progressive education theorists, championed by the magazine Ladies’ Home Journal , decried homework’s negative impact on children’s physical and mental health, leading California to ban homework for students under 15 from 1901 until 1917. In the 1930s, homework was portrayed as child labor, which was newly illegal, but the prevailing argument was that kids needed time to do household chores.”

Regardless of opposition, homework persevered, and millions of American students still spend long hours completing bookwork in their bedrooms after school. 

What are the modern objections to homework? What if the opposition is right? Is there merit to the concerns, or is homework a helpful tool for a well-rounded and comprehensive education? If you’d like to find out, now’s the time to keep reading!

How Much Time?

When analysts crunch the numbers, children spend far more time doing homework than many believe necessary. According to One Class, elementary school students spend an average of 42 minutes a day on homework. Some parents and educators argue that five additional hours of schoolwork per week is too much for elementary students. 

High schoolers spend even more time on after-school assignments. Pew Research published a 2019 article in which they explained , “Overall, teens (ages 15 to 17) spend an hour a day, on average, doing homework during the school year, up from 44 minutes a day about a decade ago and 30 minutes in the mid-1990s.”

Globally, the U.S. ranks 15th for the average amount of time spent on homework by high school students. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conducted a worldwide study on 15-year-old students to evaluate the homework load for high schoolers worldwide. 

Among the countries included in the study, China ranked first, with students spending an average of 13.8 hours a week on homework. The Netherlands ranked the lowest, with their students studying after school for an average of 5.8 hours a week. American students spent an average of 6.1 hours per week completing their homework.

What Students Think

Homework has become a point of significant stress for American students. 

One Stanford study found that 56% of students who participated in the survey stated that homework was a primary source of stress. Another study found that the decline in adequate teenage sleep may be partly due to homework. In yet another study, 82% of students interviewed admitted that they were “often or always stressed by schoolwork.” 

It’s not just the students who object to frequent homework. Parents have begun to voice their displeasure as well. One mother in Canada went viral on social media when she announced that she and her husband were done watching their ten-year-old daughter stress over her homework every night. They decided that homework wasn’t a useful educational tool for their child.

Another mother in Kansas expressed how frustrating it is when her daughter has homework that she as a mother is unsure how to help with. “I feel bad for emailing a teacher in the evenings. I’m slightly annoyed at homework in general because I don’t know what the teacher taught.” 

What Teachers Think

Educators debate whether or not homework is a positive educational tool. One Duke University professor recommends homework, believing there is a correlation between homework and academic success for older students. He recommends implementing the “10 Minute Rule.” Essentially, students receive 10 minutes of homework per day for each grade. (For instance, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework, 5th graders 50 minutes, 12th graders 120 minutes.)

A Texas teacher informed the parents of her 2nd-grade students that she would not be assigning homework anymore. Instead, she asked that the children participate in real-life activities that encourage growth and success. These activities included outdoor play, family meals, and reading with parents. As her plan evolved, she acknowledged that some students actually enjoyed homework and missed the challenge. Other students received extra work here and there on an as-needed basis. 

Defining the Need

One question that desperately needs to be asked is, “What’s the purpose of homework?” 

The answer to this question can provide parameters, determine whether or not homework achieves the goal(s), and establish if it should continue to be a staple in the American education system.

Psychology Today wonders the same thing , without any clear-cut resolution. “I started the blog with a question ‘What’s the purpose of homework?’ I’ll end with the same question. If a teacher who is assigning the homework can’t provide a clear rationale behind this question, then maybe the homework shouldn’t be assigned.”

However, Honest Pros and Cons makes a case for homework in more detail. Their reasoning for homework includes :

  • Practicing what they learn in the classroom
  • Improving study habits
  • Developing self-discipline
  • Enhancing independent problem-solving skills

McRel International notes that many factors play into whether or not homework is an effective strategy for students. They acknowledge that after-school assignments have pros and cons and state that the research is by no means definitive.

Proponents of homework present several positives: 

  • It improves student achievement – “Students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework on both standardized tests and grades.” – Britannica ProCon

While the data is not conclusive, numerous studies have shown a correlation between academic success and the use of homework. 

  • It involves parents – “Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.” – US News

Homework encourages parents and children to spend time together problem-solving and working toward a goal. It also gives parents a window into what their child is learning and the progress they are making. 

  • It encourages time management – “Homework is an effective tool when teaching your child about time management. This means that time management should extend beyond the classroom and into your home. ” – Edugage

American students spend roughly six hours a day at school. This schedule doesn’t leave much flexibility for sports, a social life, and a healthy amount of free time on top of homework. Kids have to learn time management if they want a life outside of their education. 

  • It tracks progress – “Homework allows teachers to track students’ progress, meaning that homework helps to find out the academic strengths and weaknesses of children.” – Honest Pros and Cons

Homework gives teachers a chance to see what the student can achieve independently. Students must put into practice what they learned in the schoolroom in a different environment and without their teacher present.

  • It develops working memory – “Revising the key skills learned in the classroom during homework increases the likelihood of a student remembering and being able to use those skills in a variety of situations in the future, contributing to their overall education.” – The Guardian

Environment can play an active part in memory. Biologically, our brains more easily recall memories and facts when we’re immersed in the same surroundings in which we created that memory or learned those facts. Homework removes the environmental factor, forcing students to strengthen their working memory. 

Concerned about the effects of homework on students, opponents note these objections:

  • The science isn’t settled – “There is no conclusive evidence that homework increases student achievement across the board.” – Reading Rockets

As we’ve noted before, the data isn’t conclusive despite the numerous studies conducted. To many, the negatives suggested by various studies outweigh the proposed positives.

  • It adds stress – “Researchers have found that students who spend too much time on homework experience more levels of stress and physical health problems.” – Psychology Today

Studies have concluded that too much homework creates undue stress on developing minds and bodies. This translates into mental, emotional, and physical issues for many students. This stress also affects their sleep , both the amount of sleep and the quality of that sleep. 

  • It impacts other interests/pursuits – “Homework prevents self-discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system.” – University of the People

Critics of homework fear that, in addition to time spent on school grounds, after-school assignments stunt students’ abilities to experience life outside academia. Students who struggle with completing work at home are even more susceptible to a lifestyle void of other interests. 

  • It expands the gap – “One study concluded that homework increases social inequality because it ‘potentially serves as a mechanism to further advantage those students who already experience some privilege in the school system while further disadvantaging those who may already be in a marginalized position.’” – Britannica ProCon

Homework often involves a computer and/or an internet connection. During the Covid-19 pandemic, 30% of students didn’t have the necessary technology at home to effectively participate in distance learning, raising questions about inequality affecting homework that relies on at-home technology. 

  • It creates family tension – “Assigning homework forces a person to take on added disciplinary responsibilities.” – Front Range Christian School  

While homework can bring children and parents together, it can also drive a wedge between them. Students who feel overwhelmed or who need a break from focusing on academics often buck their homework requirements, leaving parents to enforce education standards that the teachers created. Parents and students alike can end up frustrated, with little progress made. 

A World of Unknowns

While the homework debate rages on, researchers continue to work toward a conclusive answer. In the meantime, teachers, parents, schools, and communities can work together to find a solution that meets the needs of their students. 

Without a doubt, homework has positive aspects that encourage students to advance through personal and academic growth. The trick is to nurture this positivity without stunting progress with adverse side effects. 

It’s a double-edged sword that’s well worth considering to ensure the best for our kids.

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The Liberty Champion

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Is Homework Really Necessary?

does homework promote learning pros and cons

Did you get all your homework done?

We’ve all heard that phrase one too many times before, and now it triggers your fight-or-flight response. Every waking thought is about an assignment you should be doing or that project you really should start but you just can’t bring yourself to face it. Is all this homework really necessary?  

Unfortunately, it just might be. Is the homework itself the problem, or is it the amount we end up with after classes are over for the day and your bed is looking really comfy? To figure all this out we have to remember why we get homework in the first place and what school would be like without it.  

In the very early 1900s, homework was actually considered unhealthy for children and was classified as child labor because it interfered with their ability to do chores around the house. The U.S. Department of Education called homework a tool for “boosting educational quality” when it was reinstated, and it became mandatory in 1986 after being rejected for so long, as recorded by the University of San Diego.  

It’s always good to look at the pros and cons of something when deciding how you feel about it. So, what does homework do for us? Quite a few things actually.  

First let’s address the elephant in the room. No one enjoys homework unless you’re a camp and outdoor adventure leadership (COAL) major. We all have something we would rather spend our time on; that’s just the way it is.  

However, when that test rolls around, most of us are glad we stayed late at the library until we understood what we were reading. According to the University of San Diego, students only absorb 50% of what they hear in a class lecture. If that’s all you had to learn from, keeping your GPA above a 3.5 would be considered a superpower.  

Whether we like it or not, homework helps us retain important information and truly grasp the concepts we are studying. Hearing about it once from your professor is great, but life as a college student is so busy that your chances of remembering everything you heard in all of your classes are next to none. Repetition is the key to retention, and other than experience training, studying the material you were given and doing your homework is how you’re going to graduate.  

Then why is it such a problem? Why is it affecting people so negatively? No degree is worth your mental health; it’s time to look at the cons of homework.  

I believe the real problem with homework is the amount of it. Yes, we need it to learn, but our brains can only handle so much at a time. Oftentimes the standard college workload demands that we push our minds past the limit or face a late penalty. This is what causes the exhaustion and resentment that we constantly push through for the sake of good grades and gold chords.  

 Studies conducted by the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Health say shorter study sessions per day and more consistency over a longer period of time is the best way to retain information while not pushing yourself to your mental limit. However, there is so much to be done that studying for a mere three hours a day isn’t even practical.  

Students would actually be able to study in a healthy way and retain information long term if we were not assigned and asked to complete in one week what psychological studies say should take at least two.   

So, to answer the question: Yes, homework is definitely necessary. The real problem is how much we are required to process in such a short time.   

As finals inch closer by the day, make a point to take care of your mind and give yourself breaks not only while studying but also from other things that can cloud your brain like social media. Coping with huge workloads is a process, so make lists, take deep breaths and get to bed on time. We’re gonna make it; I promise.  

Barber is the off-campus news editor for the Liberty Champion

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COMMENTS

  1. Homework Pros and Cons

    Homework does not help younger students, and may not help high school students. We've known for a while that homework does not help elementary students. A 2006 study found that "homework had no association with achievement gains" when measured by standardized tests results or grades. [ 7]

  2. Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

    Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That's problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

  3. The Pros and Cons of Homework

    Pro 1: Homework Helps to Improve Student Achievement. Homework teaches students various beneficial skills that they will carry with them throughout their academic and professional life, from time management and organization to self-motivation and autonomous learning. Homework helps students of all ages build critical study abilities that help ...

  4. Is homework a necessary evil?

    After decades of debate, researchers are still sorting out the truth about homework's pros and cons. One point they can agree on: Quality assignments matter. ... For as long as kids have been whining about doing their homework, parents and education reformers have complained that homework's benefits are dubious. Meanwhile many teachers argue ...

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

    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.

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    Does it stress you out, numb your brain from busywork or actually make you fall behind in your classes? Should we get rid of homework? In " The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong, " published ...

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    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.

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

    Q+A. 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. The necessity of homework has been a subject of ...

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

    Too much homework may diminish its effectiveness. While research on the optimum amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, there are indications that for high school students, 1½ to 2½ hours per night is optimum. Middle school students appear to benefit from smaller amounts (less than 1 hour per night).

  10. 20 Pros and Cons of Homework

    3. It teaches time management skills. Homework goes beyond completing a task. It forces children (and parents, to some extent) to develop time management skills. Schedules must be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed during the day. This creates independent thinking and develops problem-solving skills.

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

    Homework has been a perennial topic of debate in education. Attitudes toward homework have gone through many cycles. (Gill & Schlossman, 2000). ... but is sometimes over used and the pros are outweighed by the cons. Educators have to be careful not to over assign homework ... Homework does have some beneficial effects. Homework can help ...

  12. Are You Down With or Done With Homework?

    These days, nightly homework is a given in American schools, writes Kohn. "Homework isn't limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important. Most teachers and administrators aren't saying, 'It may be useful to do this particular project at home,'" he writes. "Rather, the point of departure seems to be, 'We've decided ahead of ...

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    The cons of homework. Impact on mental health:An excessive amount of homework can lead to feelings of stress or anxiety, particularly when kids feel overwhelmed by expectations. Diminishes free time:Homework that extends beyond reasonable limits can encroach upon kids' free time, which is also important for rest, family bonding, and overall ...

  15. 27 Top Homework Pros and Cons (2024)

    Pros and Cons of Homework (Table Summary) Pros of Homework. Cons of Homework. Pro 1: Homework teaches discipline and habit. Con 1: Homework interferes with playtime. Pro 2: Homework helps parents know what's being learned in class. Con 2: Homework interferes with extracurricular activities.

  16. Homework

    Pro 2: Homework helps to reinforce classroom learning, while developing good study habits and life skills. Students typically retain only 50% of the information teachers provide in class, and they need to apply that information in order to truly learn it.

  17. The Homework Debate: How Homework Benefits Students

    Perseverance. Self-esteem. While these cannot be measured on standardized tests, perseverance has garnered a lot of attention as an essential skill for successful students. Regular accomplishments like finishing homework build self-esteem, which aids students' mental and physical health. Responsibility and time management are highly desirable ...

  18. Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

    A TIME cover in 1999 read: "Too much homework! How it's hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.". The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push ...

  19. Infographic: How Does Homework Actually Affect Students?

    Homework can affect both students' physical and mental health. According to a study by Stanford University, 56 per cent of students considered homework a primary source of stress. Too much homework can result in lack of sleep, headaches, exhaustion and weight loss. Excessive homework can also result in poor eating habits, with families ...

  20. Pros and Cons of Homework: What You Should Know

    The more homework a student doe s, the better it is for their grades. 3. It increases student engagement and motivation. Homework has been proven to increase student engagement and motivation. When done correctly, homework can help students learn by engaging them in challenging tasks and helping them develop skills.

  21. 15 Should Homework Be Banned Pros and Cons

    These are the updated lists of the pros and cons of banning homework to review. List of the Pros of Banning Homework. 1. Giving homework to students does not always improve their academic outcomes. The reality of homework for the modern student is that we do not know if it is helpful to have extra work assigned to them outside of the classroom.

  22. Pros and Cons of Homework

    Homework encourages parents and children to spend time together problem-solving and working toward a goal. It also gives parents a window into what their child is learning and the progress they are making. It encourages time management - "Homework is an effective tool when teaching your child about time management.

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  24. Is Homework Really Necessary?

    No degree is worth your mental health; it's time to look at the cons of homework. I believe the real problem with homework is the amount of it. Yes, we need it to learn, but our brains can only ...