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Recent reports on excellence in education recommend that teachers increase the amount of homework they assign and that school administrators establish demanding homework requirements.
This Digest discusses various types of homework assignments and examines research findings concerning the effectiveness and amount of homework assigned to American schoolchildren. It also examines some of the policies presently being discussed by school districts.
Homework is the out-of-class tasks that a student is assigned as an extension of classroom work. Three types are commonly assigned in the United States: Practice Assignments Practice assignments reinforce newly acquired skills or knowledge.
Students who have learned about a particular chemical reaction, for instance, may be asked to find examples of the reaction in their own environment.
These assignments are most effective when carefully evaluated by the teacher, when matched to the ability and background of the individual student, and when students are asked to apply recent learning directly and personally.
Preparation Assignments Intended to provide background information, these assignments can include readings in the class text, library research, collecting materials for a class demonstration, and other activities requiring the gathering or organizing of information before a class discussion or demonstration.
Effective preparation includes guidelines on why and how the assignment should be completed. In addition, accurately estimating a task's level of difficulty and coordinating the assignment of difficult homework among various courses may help teachers avoid overburdening students.
Extension Assignments These assignments encourage individualized and creative learning by emphasizing student initiative and research. Frequently long-term, continuing projects that parallel classwork, extension assignments require students to apply previous learnings. The literature examining the relationship between homework and academic achievement is basically inconclusive.
No studies have been able to control the many variables that affect this relationship LaConte ; Knorr ; and McDermott and others Nevertheless, reviews of students', teachers', and parents' perceptions reveal that all believe homework helps students achieve better grades.
In addition, some recent studies have uncovered a more positive relationship between homework and student performance. For example, --Increased homework time resulted in higher grades for high school seniors of all ability levels. Moreover, through increased study, lower ability students achieved grades commensurate with those of brighter peers Keith --One to two hours of homework a day were associated with the highest levels of reading performance for year-olds.
For year-olds, reading performance increased as the amount of time spent on homework increased. Students spending more than two hours a night on homework showed the highest performance levels Ward and others --Schools that assigned homework frequently showed higher student achievement levels than did schools that made little use of homework Rutter and others Rather than rely on conflicting research findings, school districts might more profitably determine whether homework, as they define and construct it, meets school and district educational objectives Knorr Although researchers generally agree that the amount of homework increases significantly as students progress through school, their findings do not agree about the number of homework hours assigned or completed by American students.
The issue is further complicated because the amount of homework assigned or performed varies according to gender and grade level of student and according to type of school. Many homework studies focus on the upper grade levels. However, a recent survey conducted by the United States Bureau of the Census reports that public elementary school students spend 4.
The survey also reported that girls do more homework than boys, and that Blacks and Hispanics do more than Whites.
High school students reported doing almost seven hours of homework a week, ranging from 6. The report attributes the difference to the college preparatory orientation of many private schools and the more diverse nature of public schools United States Bureau of the Census Many school districts have developed local programs and policies to answer the call for increased homework issued by education commissions.
For example, Frank J. Macchiarola, Chancellor of the New York City Schools, presented a citywide homework policy to principals and community school superintendents. The chancellor's regulation set a minimum nightly homework policy to be monitored by principals.
These nightly minimums range from 20 minutes for first and second grades to two hours for ninth through twelfth grades.Cooper () suggested that research findings support the common “minute rule” (p. 92), which states that all daily homework assignments combined should take about as long to complete as 10 minutes multiplied by the student's grade level.
Homework, or a homework assignment, is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the class. Common homework assignments may include required reading, a writing or typing project, mathematical exercises to be completed, information to be reviewed before a test, or other skills to be practiced.
It's time to 'fess up about homework. It is forced labor.
Unpaid forced labor. Homework assignments provide precious little benefit and they cause unnecessary stress for the child and for the parent. Good teachers can get the job done in class.
Those who can't just assign more homework. Cooper () suggested that research findings support the common “minute rule” (p. 92), which states that all daily homework assignments combined should take about as long to complete as 10 minutes multiplied by the student's grade level.
Many school districts across the United States voted to abolish homework, especially in the lower grades: In the s and s, although few districts abolished homework outright, many abolished it in grades K–6. In grades K–3, condemnation of homework was nearly universal in school district policies as well as professional opinion.
Canada and the United Kingdom were two of the earliest countries to sound the alarm: a ban on primary homework was recommended in the United Kingdom in , and in , Toronto's school policy prohibited homework in kindergarten and on weekends and holidays.