Should teachers ask their students to do homework? This seems to be the question of the week, with the UAE axing homework from all state schools and some private entities following their example. Parents have expressed a mix of worry and acceptance. Some are hoping for more quality family time, while others are dreading an increase in screen time. Let’s see what research has to say about the added value of homework.
Reasons FOR homework:
Increase student achievement.
Cooper (2006) in his research ‘Does homework improve academic achievement?’ showed that a great majority of students who were assigned homework outperformed students who didn’t do homework. Kalenkoski (2014) also demonstrated the benefits of homework versus academic progress. It leads me to believe that maybe the key is how much homework and its objective.
It helps reinforce schoolwork.
Kurtus (2012) in ‘Purpose of homework’ underlines the need for further practice to help retain information. I think we can all agree that in a class of 20 students, the percentage of information retention per student depends on many factors, such as focus, attention span, time of the day, nutrition, interest, accountability. etc. In this case, homework plays a role in adding extra practice at a more convenient time and space to regain missed information.
It develops life skills.
Ramdass (2011) in ‘Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework’ demonstrates how homework discipline leads students to developing important life skills such as accountability, time management, goal setting, self-discipline and following instructions/directions.
It helps parents get involved in their children’s learning journey.
School leaders want parents to be part of their students’ school life. Van Voorhis (2010) shows how parental involvement can lead to identifying specific subject or learning needs, but most importantly it leads to better academic performance. Parents become accountable for their children’s studies and it motivates children to do better.
Reasons AGAINST homework:
A lot of homework equals stress.
Kohn (2006) is a leading voice against homework when it stops children from being children. It gives them no time to have a social life, to play, no time for interaction with family and friends and no time to even sleep. Such conditions can lead to health issues, both physical and mental ones.
Homework in elementary school does not help children.
Kohn (2006) in ‘Does homework improve learning?’ showed how reading a book before sleeping was more beneficial for younger children than standardised homework. Actually, he demonstrated that in elementary school homework does not bring any added value to the learning process.
It leads to academic burnout.
If too repetitive and non-creative, students may feel that they have already done that and therefore will finish it for the sake of accountability, while they do feel that their time would have been better employed in more mental and physical rewarding activities. Homework is sedentary and some children find that most challenging of all.
The above makes me believe that schools might need to agree on what type of homework and how much of it, rather than no homework at all. What do you think?
ALL the references above cited are available on request.