Homework is an unavoidable fact of life for everyone. Our parents had to do it, we had to do it, our children will do it, and so on and so forth. However, many people are starting to think that it may cause more trouble than it is really worth. The overburdening of the work load on students has been showing some very negative effects in their academic, as well as their home life. While the purpose of homework is to improve student’s understanding, does it really do that, and if so at what cost? Let’s examine both sides of the homework coin so that you can determine where you stand on this controversial subject.
The Pros of Homework
1. Provides Additional Practice And Mastery
By requiring students to complete additional course work by themselves at home, you are forcing them to test their own understanding of a subject. This helps them to practice and develop a mastery of a given topic.
2. More Time In The Classroom
There is already limited time in the classroom to cover all of the topics that need to be covered. Working on large projects and independent studies can take a large chunk of this time up. With homework, many of this course work can be completed at home and free up a lot of time during the school day.
3. Promotes Parent Involvement
Often times, the parents of students have little involvement in what is happening inside the classroom. Homework offers them some insight into the topics and lessons that are being covered, and let’s them actively participate to ensure their child’s understanding.
4. Teaches Discipline
Keeping up with homework and making sure to set aside the time to do it helps to teach young students essential discipline skills that they need to succeed in the rest of their life. Time management and organization are also all enforced through homework.
The Cons of Homework
1. Interferes With Family Time
Kids spend a large majority of their week in the classroom. The time they get to spend with their family is very short because of the long days in school. Homework only further cuts into this important bonding time for families.
2. An Added Stress To Students
Student’s minds and abilities are tested all day in school, which can be very draining. When they come home, they need to be able to relax and pursue other interests. Homework not only doesn’t allow them to do that, but causes the stress of the school day to continue into the evening. This could affect attitude, sleep, and many other things.
3. Can Encourage Cheating
If a child doesn’t complete their homework, they feel a large amount of pressure to have it done. This encourages cheating and copying of other student’s work. This is easily done because the work is completed off of school grounds. This also goes for the use of textbooks, the internet, and other resources to complete assignments.
4. Not Enough Time To Pursue Passions
School is undoubtedly very important to the development of young minds, but they also have their own interests and passions that shouldn’t be ignored. Afterschool is often the only time that these students can engage in activities like sports, musical interests, dance, and other things. Homework hinders the time that they have available to do this.
Important Facts About Banning Homework
The Homework Debate: The Case Against HomeworkBy Monica Fuglei • November 14, 2013
This post has been updated for accuracy and relevance as of December 2017.
It’s not uncommon to hear students, parents, and even some teachers always complaining about homework. Why, then, is homework an inescapable part of the student experience? Worksheets, busy work, and reading assignments continue to be a mainstay of students’ evenings.
Whether from habit or comparison with out-of-class work time in other nations, our students are getting homework and, according to some of them, a LOT of it. Educators and policy makers must ask themselves—does assigning homework pay off?
Is there evidence that homework benefits students younger than high school?
The Scholastic article Is Homework Bad? references Alfie Kohn’s book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing, in which he says, “There is no evidence to demonstrate that homework benefits students below high school age.”
The article goes on to note that those who oppose homework focus on the drawbacks of significant time spent on homework, identifying one major negative as homework’s intrusion into family time. They also point out that opponents believe schools have decided homework is necessary and thus assign it simply to assign some kind of homework, not because doing the work meets specifically-identified student needs.
“Busy work” does not help students learn
Students and parents appear to carry similar critiques of homework, specifically regarding assignments identified as busy work—long sheets of repetitive math problems, word searches, or reading logs seemingly designed to make children dislike books.
When asked how homework can negatively affect children, Nancy Kalish, author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It, says that many homework assignments are “simply busy work” that makes learning “a chore rather than a positive, constructive experience.”
Commenters on the piece, both parents and students, tended to agree. One student shared that on occasion they spent more time on homework than at school, while another commenter pointed out that, “We don’t give slow-working children a longer school day, but we consistently give them a longer homework day.”
Without feedback, homework is ineffective
The efficacy of the homework identified by Kalish has been studied by policy researchers as well. Gerald LeTendre, of Penn State’s Education Policy Studies department points out that the shotgun approach to homework, when students all receive the same photocopied assignment which is then checked as complete rather than discussed individually with the student, is “not very effective.” He goes on to say that, “If there’s no feedback and no monitoring, the homework is probably not effective.”
Researchers from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia had similar findings in their study, “When Is Homework Worth The Time?” According to UVAToday, these researchers reported no “substantive difference” in the grades of students related to homework completion.
As researcher Adam Maltese noted, “Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be.” The report further suggested that while not all homework is bad, the type and quality of assignments and their differentiation to specific learners appears to be an important point of future research.
If homework is assigned, it should heighten understanding of the subject
The Curry School of Education report did find a positive association between standardized test performance and time spent on homework, but standardized test performance shouldn’t be the end goal of assignments—a heightened understanding and capability with the content material should.
As such, it is important that if/when teachers assign homework assignments, it is done thoughtfully and carefully—and respectful of the maximum times suggested by the National Education Association, about 10 minutes per night starting in the first grade, with an additional 10 minutes per year after.
Continue reading — The Homework Debate: How Homework Benefits Students
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.Learn More: Click to view related resources. Tags: Leadership and Administration, Pros and Cons, Teacher-Parent Relationships