How Does Homework Help Students

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No strong evidence was found for an association between the homework-achievement link and the outcome measure (grades as opposed to standardized tests) or the subject matter (reading as opposed to math). Homework for junior high students appears to reach the point of diminishing returns after about 90 minutes a night.

On the basis of these results and others, the authors suggest future research. For high school students, the positive line continues to climb until between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours of homework a night, after which returns diminish (Cooper, 1989; Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006).

A survey conducted by Met Life in 2007 found that 87% of parents saw that helping their child with homework was an opportunity for them to talk and spend time together.

More than three fourths (78%) did not think homework interfered with family time, and nearly as many (71%) thought that it was not a source of major stress. Pleasing a majority of parents regarding homework is about as good as they can hope for, even with a fair number of dissenters.

The homework question is best answered by comparing students assigned homework with students assigned no homework who are similar in other ways.

The results of such studies suggest that homework can improve students’ scores on the class tests that come at the end of a topic.It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school.It can foster independent learning and responsible character traits.Students assigned homework in second grade did better on the math tests; third and fourth graders did better on English skills and vocabulary tests; fifth graders on social studies tests; ninth through 12th graders on American history tests; and 12th graders on Shakespeare tests.Across five studies, the average student who did homework had a higher unit test score than the students not doing homework.Studies also suggest that young students who are struggling in school take more time to complete homework assignments simply because these assignments are more difficult for them. The National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association have a parents’ guide called Helping Your Child Get the Most Out of Homework. Many school district policies state that high school students should expect about 30 minutes of homework for each academic course they take (a bit more for honors or advanced placement courses).It states, “Most educators agree that for children in grades K–2, homework is more effective when it does not exceed 10–20 minutes each day; older children, in grades 3–6, can handle 30–60 minutes a day; in junior and senior high, the amount of homework will vary by subject.” In this article, the authors summarize research conducted in the United States since 1987 on the effects of homework. The authors found that all studies, regardless of type, had design flaws. These recommendations are consistent with the conclusions reached by our analysis.Parents can get too involved in homework—pressuring their child and confusing him or her by using different instructional techniques than the teacher.My feeling is that homework policies should prescribe amounts of homework consistent with the research evidence, but they should also give individual schools and teachers some flexibility to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of their students and families. Harris Cooper is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, where he also directs the Program in Education, and author of The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (Corwin Press).However, both within and across design types, there was generally consistent evidence for a positive influence of homework on achievement. Practice assignments do improve scores on class tests at all grade levels.Studies that reported simple homework-achievement correlations revealed evidence that a stronger correlation existed in grades 7–12 than in grades K–6 and when students, rather than parents, reported time on homework. A little amount of homework may help elementary school students build study habits.

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