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The Pros and Cons of Homework
The dreaded word for students across the country—homework.
Homework has long been a source of debate, with parents, educators, and education specialists debating the advantages of at-home study. There are many pros and cons of homework. We’ve examined a few significant points to provide you with a summary of the benefits and disadvantages of homework.
Check Out 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 them throughout their academic careers. Learning at home also encourages the development of good research habits while encouraging students to take ownership of their tasks.
If you’re finding that homework is becoming an issue at home, check out this article to learn how to tackle them before they get out of hand.
Con 1: Too Much Homework Can Negatively Affect Students
You’ll often hear from students that they’re stressed out by schoolwork. Stress becomes even more apparent as students get into higher grade levels.
A study conducted on high school student’s experiences found that high-achieving students found that too much homework leads to sleep deprivation and other health problems such as:
- Weight loss
- Stomach problems
More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies.
It’s been shown that excessive homework can lead to cheating. With too much homework, students end up copying off one another in an attempt to finish all their assignments.
Pro 2: Homework Helps to Reinforce Classroom Learning
Homework is most effective when it allows students to revise what they learn in class. Did you know that students typically retain only 50% of the information teachers provide in class?
Students need to apply that information to learn it.
Homework also helps students develop key skills that they’ll use throughout their lives:
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Independent problem-solving
The skills learned in homework can then be applied to other subjects and practical situations in students’ daily lives.
Con 2: Takes Away From Students Leisure Time
Children need free time. This free time allows children to relax and explore the world that they are living in. This free time also gives them valuable skills they wouldn’t learn in a classroom, such as riding a bike, reading a book, or socializing with friends and family.
Having leisure time teaches kids valuable skills that cannot be acquired when doing their homework at a computer.
Plus, students need to get enough exercise. Getting exercise can improve cognitive function, which might be hindered by sedentary activities such as homework.
Pro 3: Homework Gets Parents Involved with Children’s Learning
Homework helps parents track what their children are learning in school.
Also allows parents to see what their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses are. Homework can alert parents to any learning difficulties that their children might have, enabling them to provide assistance and modify their child’s learning approach as necessary.
Parents who help their children with homework will lead to higher academic performance, better social skills and behaviour, and greater self-confidence in their children.
Con 3: Homework Is Not Always Effective
Numerous researchers have attempted to evaluate the importance of homework and how it enhances academic performance. According to a study , homework in primary schools has a minimal effect since students pursue unrelated assignments instead of solidifying what they have already learned.
Mental health experts agree heavy homework loads have the capacity to do more harm than good for students. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether. So, unfortunately for students, homework is here to stay.
You can learn more about the pro and cons of homework here.
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27 Top 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)
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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
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
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Pros and cons of homework
Homework has long been a point of contention, with parents, teachers and education experts continually debating the merits of take-home learning. We’ve taken a look at some key arguments to provide you with a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of homework.
Develops important study skills
From time management and organisation to self-motivation and independent learning, homework teaches students a range of positive skills that they will carry with them throughout their academic and working lives. Home learning motivates students to take responsibility for their workload, while also encouraging the development of positive research practices.
Opportunity to consolidate classroom learning
Homework is at its most effective when it allows students to revise what they’ve learnt in class. Assigned tasks that revisit what’s been taught during the day reinforces learnt knowledge and increases the likelihood of students remembering key information. Homework can then help students apply these learnt skills to other subjects and practical situations in their everyday lives.
Provides an indication of academic comprehension
Assigning learning tasks at home is a useful way for teachers to identify whether students are understanding the curriculum. Teachers can analyse gaps in comprehension or information through homework, making it easier for them to tailor their approach to each student’s needs – they can recognise students who need extra support in certain learning areas, while also identifying children who may benefit from more complex learning tasks.
Causes unnecessary stress
Simply uttering the word ‘homework’ can instil a sense of dread in students. When the workload is too large and tasks become increasingly difficult, homework causes students to feel anxious, stressed and unmotivated. This can lead to sleep deprivation and behavioural changes, while also ingraining homework as a negative aspect of schooling life.
Takes away from leisure time
Free time allows children to not only relax, but also discover the world on their own terms – learning how to ride a bike, reading books or interacting with friends and family teaches students useful skills that can’t be learnt by sitting at a desk. Healthy levels of physical activity, which can help to boost cognitive function, can also be impeded by sedentary time spent completing homework.
Not always effective
Plenty of studies have sought to analyse the value of homework and how it benefits academic performance. Research by John Hattie, Professor of Education at the University of Melbourne, has found that homework in primary school has an effect of around zero , as students are completing separate and unrelated projects rather than reinforcing learnt knowledge. Hattie’s work has suggested that homework only becomes effective at the primary and secondary levels when students are assigned learning tasks that ask them to revise taught information.
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The Pros and Cons of 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.
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Why should students have homework.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad
- 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.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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Pros and Cons of Homework
“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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