Fill-in-the-blank worksheets or extended projects? In what school subject s? How old are the students? How able and interested are they? Are we looking at how much the teacher assigned or at how much the kids actually did? How careful was the study and how many students were investigated? Even when you take account of all these variables, the bottom line remains that no definite conclusion can be reached, and that is itself a significant conclusion. Research casting doubt on that assumption goes back at least to , when a study found that assigning spelling homework had no effect on how proficient children were at spelling later on.
About 70 percent of these found that homework was associated with higher achievement. Forty-three of fifty correlations were positive, although the overall effect was not particularly large: As for more recent studies looking for a relationship between achievement and time spent on homework, the overall correlation was about the same as the one found in But if we look more closely, even that description turns out to be too generous.
At best, most homework studies show only an association, not a causal relationship. Nevertheless, most research purporting to show a positive effect of homework seems to be based on the assumption that when students who get or do more homework also score better on standardized tests, it follows that the higher scores were due to their having had more homework.
There are almost always other explanations for why successful students might be in classrooms where more homework is assigned — let alone why these students might take more time with their homework than their peers do.
Again, it would be erroneous to conclude that homework is responsible for higher achievement. Or that a complete absence of homework would have any detrimental effect at all. One of the most frequently cited studies in the field was published in the early s by a researcher named Timothy Keith, who looked at survey results from tens of thousands of high school students and concluded that homework had a positive relationship to achievement, at least at that age.
But a funny thing happened ten years later when he and a colleague looked at homework alongside other possible influences on learning such as quality of instruction, motivation, and which classes the students took. Do we really know how much homework kids do? The studies claiming that homework helps are based on the assumption that we can accurately measure the number and length of assignments. But many of these studies depend on students to tell us how much homework they get or complete.
When Cooper and his associates looked at recent studies in which the time spent on homework was reported by students, and then compared them with studies in which that estimate was provided by their parents, the results were quite different. These first two flaws combine to cast doubt on much of the existing data, according to a damning summary that appears in the Encyclopedia of Educational Research: Homework studies confuse grades and test scores with learning.
Each is seriously flawed in its own way. In the second kind of study, course grades are used to determine whether homework made a difference. Any given assignment may well be given two different grades by two equally qualified teachers — and may even be given two different grades by a single teacher who reads it at two different times.
The final course grade, moreover, is based on a combination of these individual marks, along with other, even less well defined considerations. The same teacher who handed out the assignments then turns around and evaluates the students who completed them. The final grade a teacher chooses for a student will often be based at least partly on whether, and to what extent, that student did the homework.
Thus, to say that more homework is associated with better school performance as measured by grades is to provide no useful information about whether homework is intrinsically valuable.
Yet grades are the basis for a good number of the studies that are cited to defend that very conclusion. The studies that use grades as the outcome measure, not surprisingly, tend to show a much stronger effect for homework than studies that use standardized test scores.
Cooper and his colleagues conducted a study in with both younger and older students from grades 2 through 12 , using both grades and standardized test scores to measure achievement. They also looked at how much homework was assigned by the teacher as well as at how much time students spent on their homework.
Thus, there were eight separate results to be reported. The last, and most common, way of measuring achievement is to use standardized test scores. They are, however, excellent indicators of two things. The first is affluence: Up to 90 percent of the difference in scores among schools, communities, or even states can be accounted for, statistically speaking, without knowing anything about what happened inside the classrooms.
The second phenomenon that standardized tests measure is how skillful a particular group of students is at taking standardized tests — and, increasingly, how much class time has been given over to preparing them to do just that. In my experience, teachers can almost always identify several students who do poorly on standardized tests even though, by more authentic and meaningful indicators, they are extremely talented thinkers.
These anecdotal reports have been corroborated by research that finds a statistically significant positive relationship between a shallow or superficial approach to learning, on the one hand, and high scores on various standardized tests, on the other. To that extent, students cannot really demonstrate what they know or what they can do with what they know.
Multiple-choice tests are basically designed so that many kids who understand a given idea will be tricked into picking the wrong answer. Instead, its primary purpose is to artificially spread out the scores in order to facilitate ranking students against each other.
Moreover, the selection of questions for these tests is informed by this imperative to rank. Thus, items that a lot of students answer correctly or incorrectly are typically eliminated — regardless of whether the content is important — and replaced with questions that about half the kids will get right. This is done in order to make it easier to compare students to one another. In the latter case, a high or rising average test score may actually be a reason to worry. Every hour that teachers spend preparing kids to succeed on standardized tests, even if that investment pays off, is an hour not spent helping kids to become critical, curious, creative thinkers.
The limitations of these tests are so numerous and so serious that studies showing an association between homework and higher scores are highly misleading. The fact that more meaningful outcomes are hard to quantify does not make test scores or grades any more valid, reliable, or useful as measures.
To use them anyway calls to mind the story of the man who looked for his lost keys near a streetlight one night not because that was where he dropped them but just because the light was better there. Even taken on its own terms, the research turns up some findings that must give pause to anyone who thinks homework is valuable.
Taking practice tests will also help take the pressure off during the real test, and should help reduce some of the test taking anxiety. They might have a good reason. Some teachers might also be open to making changes to the homework assignments to make them more effective! Book a Tutor Online Now! If you have any questions to ask us, or would like to share your thoughts on your experiences with us, use our contact info below. Own a School is Easy Tutoring franchise!
Click here for info. Does homework help improve learning? Quality homework assignments vs. How to optimize the benefits of homework! As simple as the question seems to be, the answer is quite complex. So many variables affect student achievement. Although most Canadian parents would agree that some homework is valuable, difficult questions remain: How much homework is necessary?
Does homework really help my child? Research suggests that, with two exceptions, homework for elementary children is not beneficial and does not boost achievement levels. The first exception is in the case of a student who is struggling to complete classroom tasks. The second is when students are preparing for a test. For example, students might review a list of words for 10 minutes in preparation for a spelling test the next day.
Parental help with homework appears to be beneficial only if the child has already learned the concepts and simply needs more time to complete the assignments.
In fact, some evidence suggests that K—4 students who spend too much time on homework actually achieve less well.
Sep 14, · At my school, we all think that homework helps people learn in so many different ways. You do your homework to get better grades on test scores because some of the homework you get will have some stuff that can be on test. Another reason is that homework can get you better grades if .
Does Homework Improve Learning? By Alfie Kohn. Because the question that serves as the title of this chapter doesn’t seem all that complicated, you might think that after all this time we’d have a straightforward answer.
Since , educators around the world have conducted studies to answer a simple question: Does homework help or hinder a student’s ability to learn? If you think your child is doing too much homework, Cooper recommends talking with her teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.”.
Homework will help you do that because you can memorize and be better at what you're doing it so when the test comes, you feel confident that your going to do good well because you studied. Homework helps give a better understanding because it’s a recap of what you did in class. Sep 23, · 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.