Homework Overload

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Research Spotlight on Homework
NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Some researchers are urging schools to take a fresh look at homework and its potential for engaging students and improving student performance. The key, they say, is to take into account grade-specific and developmental factors when determining the amount and kind of homework. So, what's appropriate? What benefits can be expected? What makes for good homework policies? Research doesn't have all the answers, but a review of some existing data yields some helpful observations and guidance.

How Much Homework Do Students Do? 
Survey data and anecdotal evidence show that some students spend hours nightly doing homework. Homework overload is the exception rather than the norm; however, according to research from the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation (see the Brown Center 2003 below). Their researchers analyzed data from a variety of sources and concluded that the majority of U.S. students spend less than an hour a day on homework, regardless of grade level, and this has held true for most of the past 50 years. In the last 20 years, homework has increased only in the lower grade levels, and this increase is associated with neutral (and sometimes negative) effects on student achievement. How Much Is Appropriate? 

The National PTA recommendations fall in line with general guidelines suggested by researcher Harris Cooper: 10-20 minutes per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter (e.g., 20 minutes for second grade, 120 minutes for twelfth). High school students may sometimes do more, depending on what classes they take (see Review of Educational Research, 2006). What are the benefits? 

Homework usually falls into one of three categories: practice, preparation, or extension. The purpose usually varies by grade. Individualized assignments that tap into students' existing skills or interests can be motivating. At the elementary school level, homework can help students develop study skills and habits and can keep families informed about their child's learning. At the secondary school level, student homework is associated with greater academic achievement. (Review of Educational Research, 2006) What’s good policy? 

Experts advise schools or districts to include teachers, parents, and students in any effort to set homework policies. Policies should address the purposes of homework; amount and frequency; school and teacher responsibilities; student responsibilities; and, the role of parents or others who assist students with homework. Reference: Cooper, H. (2003). A synthesis of research. Review of Educational Reseach, volume 76, Retrieved January 09, 2013, from http://www.nea.org/tools/16938.htm Reasons why students should not have homework

Homework is supposed to ensure that all students retain the material covered in the classroom, but for many children it is an unnecessary chore and actually hinders their learning. Children learn best when they are interested in the subject. Positive mental attitude makes learning even challenging things much easier. Negative mental attitude, however, makes retaining knowledge harder and creates stress in a learner. It also takes much longer periods of time to complete. As a result children hardly have any time to develop their talents through extracurricular activities, or to spend adequate time with family and friends. Instead of being burdened with much resented huge loads of homework, children should have the opportunity for more self-directed and interactive learning at school to generate their interest and build in them positive attitude towards learning. Teachers should be more creative and use multimedia like computers and video presentations to make covered subjects more engaging involving children's input more. Students should be allowed to suggest activities and projects they would like to do. In the present school system it is usually the...
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