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The Pros and Cons of Homework

The-Pros-and-Cons-Should-Students-Have-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.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

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Why should students have homework, 1. 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 .

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

1. 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.

2. 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 .

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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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20 Pros and Cons of Homework

Homework. It’s a word that sends a shudder down the spine of students and parents alike.

It is also a question that has become divisive. Some people feel that homework is an effective way to reinforce the concepts that were learned at school. Others feel like the time that homework demands would be better spent with a meaningful activity that brings the family together.

Is homework important? Is it necessary? Or is the added stress that homework places on students and parents doing more harm than good? Here are some of the key pros and cons to discuss.

List of the Pros of Homework

1. It encourages the discipline of practice. Repeating the same problems over and over can be boring and difficult, but it also reinforces the practice of discipline. To get better at a skill, repetition is often necessary. You get better with each repetition. By having homework completed every night, especially with a difficult subject, the concepts become easier to understand. That gives the student an advantage later on in life when seeking a vocational career.

2. It gets parents involved with a child’s life. Looking at Common Core math can be somewhat bewildering to parents. If you see the math problem 5×3 expressed as an addition problem, 5+5+5 seems like the right answer. The correct answer, however, would be 3+3+3+3+3. By bringing homework to do, students can engage their learning process with their parents so everyone can be involved. Many parents actually want homework sent so they can see what their children are being taught in the classroom.

3. It teaches time management skills. Homework goes beyond completing a task. It forces children (and parents, to some extent) to develop time management skills. Schedules must be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed during the day. This creates independent thinking and develops problem-solving skills. It encourages research skills. It also puts parents and children into a position where positive decision-making skills must be developed.

4. Homework creates a communication network. Teachers rarely see into the family lives of their students. Parents rarely see the classroom lives of their children. Homework is a bridge that opens lines of communication between the school, the teacher, and the parent. This allows everyone to get to know one another better. It helps teachers understand the needs of their students better.

It allows parents to find out their child’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, an educational plan can be developed that encourages the best possible learning environment.

5. It allows for a comfortable place to study. Classrooms have evolved over the years to be a warmer and welcoming environment, but there is nothing like the comfort that is felt at home or in a safe space. By encouraging studies where a child feels the most comfortable, it is possible to retain additional information that may get lost within the standard classroom environment.

6. It provides more time to complete the learning process. The time allotted for each area of study in school, especially in K-12, is often limited to 1 hour or less per day. That is not always enough time for students to be able to grasp core concepts of that material. By creating specific homework assignments which address these deficiencies, it becomes possible to counter the effects of the time shortages. That can benefit students greatly over time.

7. It reduces screen time. On the average school night, a student in the US might get 3-4 hours of screen time in per day. When that student isn’t in school, that figure doubles to 7-8 hours of screen time. Homework might be unwanted and disliked, but it does encourage better study habits. It discourages time being spent in front of the television or playing games on a mobile device. That, in turn, may discourage distracting habits from forming that can take away from the learning process in the future.

8. It can be treated like any other extracurricular activity. Some families over-extend themselves on extracurricular activities. Students can easily have more than 40 hours per week, from clubs to sports, that fall outside of regular school hours. Homework can be treated as one of these activities, fitting into the schedule where there is extra time. As an added benefit, some homework can even be completed on the way to or from some activities.

List of the Cons of Homework

1. Children benefit from playing. Being in a classroom can be a good thing, but so can being on a playground. With too much homework, a child doesn’t have enough time to play and that can impact their learning and social development. Low levels of play are associated with lower academic achievement levels, lower safety awareness, less character development, and lower overall health.

2. It encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Long homework assignments require long periods of sitting. A sedentary lifestyle has numerous direct associations with premature death as children age into adults. Obesity levels are already at or near record highs in many communities. Homework may reinforce certain skills and encourage knowledge retention, but it may come at a high price.

3. Not every home is a beneficial environment. There are some homes that are highly invested into their children. Parents may be involved in every stage of homework or there may be access to tutors that can explain difficult concepts. In other homes, there may be little or no education investment into the child. Some parents push the responsibility of teaching off on the teacher and provide no homework support at all.

Sometimes parents may wish to be involved and support their child, but there are barriers in place that prevent this from happening. The bottom line is this: no every home life is equal.

4. School is already a full-time job for kids. An elementary school day might start at 9:00am and end at 3:20pm. That’s more than 6 hours of work that kids as young as 5 are putting into their education every day. Add in the extra-curricular activities that schools encourage, such as sports, musicals, and after-school programming and a student can easily reach 8 hours of education in the average day. Then add homework on top of that? It is asking a lot for any child, but especially young children, to complete extra homework.

5. There is no evidence that homework creates improvements. Survey after survey has found that the only thing that homework does is create a negative attitude toward schooling and education in general. Homework is not associated with a higher level of academic achievement on a national scale. It may help some students who struggle with certain subjects, if they have access to a knowledgeable tutor or parent, but on a community level, there is no evidence that shows improvements are gained.

6. It discourages creative endeavors. If a student is spending 1 hour each day on homework, that’s an hour they are not spending pursuing something that is important to them. Students might like to play video games or watch TV, but homework takes time away from learning an instrument, painting, or developing photography skills as well. Although some homework can involve creative skills, that usually isn’t the case.

7. Homework is difficult to enforce. Some students just don’t care about homework. They can achieve adequate grades without doing it, so they choose not to do it. There is no level of motivation that a parent or teacher can create that inspires some students to get involved with homework. There is no denying the fact that homework requires a certain amount of effort. Sometimes a child just doesn’t want to put in that effort.

8. Extra time in school does not equate to better grades. Students in the US spend more than 100 hours of extra time in school already compared to high-performing countries around the world, but that has not closed the educational gap between those countries and the United States. In some educational areas, the US is even falling in global rankings despite the extra time that students are spending in school. When it comes to homework or any other form of learning, quality is much more important than quantity.

9. Accurate practice may not be possible. If homework is assigned, there is a reliance on the student, their parents, or their guardians to locate resources that can help them understand the content. Homework is often about practice, but if the core concepts of that information are not understood or inaccurately understood, then the results are the opposite of what is intended. If inaccurate practice is performed, it becomes necessary for the teacher to first correct the issue and then reteach it, which prolongs the learning process.

10. It may encourage cheating on multiple levels. Some students may decide that cheating in the classroom to avoid taking homework home is a compromise they’re willing to make. With internet resources, finding the answers to homework instead of figuring out the answers on one’s own is a constant temptation as well. For families with multiple children, they may decide to copy off one another to minimize the time investment.

11. Too much homework is often assigned to students. There is a general agreement that students should be assigned no more than 10 minutes of homework per day, per grade level. That means a first grader should not be assigned more than 10 minutes of homework per night. Yet for the average first grader in US public schools, they come home with 20 minutes of homework and then are asked to complete 20 minutes of reading on top of that. That means some students are completing 4x more homework than recommended every night.

At the same time, the amount of time children spent playing outdoors has decreased by 40% over the past 30 years.

For high school students, it is even worse at high performing schools in the US where 90% of graduates go onto college, the average amount of homework assigned per night was 3 hours per student.

12. Homework is often geared toward benchmarks. Homework is often assigned to improve test scores. Although this can provide positive outcomes, including better study skills or habits, the fact is that when children are tired, they do not absorb much information. When children have more homework than recommended, test scores actually go down. Stress levels go up. Burnout on the curriculum occurs.

The results for many students, according to research from Ruben Fernandez-Alonso in the Journal of Educational Psychology, is a decrease in grades instead of an increase.

The pros and cons of homework are admittedly all over the map. Many parents and teachers follow their personal perspectives and create learning environments around them. When parents and teachers clash on homework, the student is often left in the middle of that tug of war. By discussing these key points, each side can work to find some common ground so our children can benefit for a clear, precise message.

Quantity may be important, but quality must be the priority for homework if a student is going to be successful.

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27 Top Homework Pros and Cons

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)

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

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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i love this it helped me a lot in class and it can be used more around the United States of amarica

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Is homework important what are its advantages & disadvantages.

Homework has been a long-standing practice in education, serving as a means to reinforce classroom learning and promote independent study. While some argue that homework is a vital component of a well-rounded education, others question its effectiveness and impact on students’ well-being. 

In this blog, we will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of homework to gain a balanced perspective on its importance.

Advantages of Homework:

1.Reinforcement of Learning: Homework provides an opportunity for students to practice and reinforce what they have learned in the classroom. Through repetition and application, students solidify their understanding of concepts, leading to improved retention and comprehension.

The Blue Bells School | Is Homework Important?  What are its Advantages & Disadvantages

2.Development of Responsibility and Time Management Skills: Homework teaches students essential life skills such as responsibility, self-discipline, and time management. By completing assignments within designated deadlines, students learn to prioritize tasks and develop a sense of accountability for their own learning.

3.Individualized Learning:

Homework allows students to explore topics in-depth, catering to individual interests and learning styles. It encourages independent research and critical thinking, fostering intellectual curiosity and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

4.Parental Involvement:

Homework can facilitate parental involvement in a child’s education. Parents can engage in discussions, provide guidance, and monitor their child’s progress, leading to increased communication between home and school.

The Blue Bells School | Is Homework Important?  What are its Advantages & Disadvantages

Disadvantages of Homework:

1. Excessive Workload: 

One of the primary criticisms of homework is the potential for excessive workload, which can lead to stress, burnout, and a lack of balance in students’ lives. A heavy homework burden may limit time for extracurricular activities, socialization, and relaxation, negatively impacting overall well-being.

2.Inequality and Equity Issues: Homework may exacerbate inequality among students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students with limited access to resources, such as computers or quiet study spaces, may struggle to complete assignments on an equal footing with their peers.

3.Loss of Interest and Creativity:

For some students, homework can become monotonous and repetitive, stifling their enthusiasm for learning. Excessive focus on completing assignments may hinder opportunities for creative exploration and independent thinking, limiting their overall educational experience.

The Blue Bells School | Is Homework Important?  What are its Advantages & Disadvantages

4.Potential for Academic Dishonesty:

With the prevalence of online resources, the temptation for academic dishonesty, such as copying or plagiarizing, becomes more significant. Homework assignments that primarily involve rote memorization may discourage genuine engagement and encourage shortcuts.

In conclusion, while the debate surrounding the importance of homework continues, it is evident that homework plays a crucial role in education. It reinforces learning, develops essential skills like responsibility and time management, and promotes independent study. 

Homework also fosters parental involvement and allows for individualized learning. Although concerns exist regarding excessive workload and equity issues, these can be addressed through thoughtful assignment design and consideration of students’ well-being. By striking a balance and implementing homework effectively, we can harness its advantages to enhance student learning and prepare them for future academic and personal success.

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Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study.

Denise Pope

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative effects on student well-being and behavioral engagement. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

A Stanford researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.

“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .

The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students’ views on homework.

Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.

Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.

“The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being,” Pope wrote.

Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.

Their study found that too much homework is associated with:

• Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

• Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.

• Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.

A balancing act

The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as “pointless” or “mindless” in order to keep their grades up.

“This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points,” Pope said.

She said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.

“Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development,” wrote Pope.

High-performing paradox

In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone,” they wrote, “which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities.”

Student perspectives

The researchers say that while their open-ended or “self-reporting” methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for “typical adolescent complaining” – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.

The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.

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Homework Advantages and Disadvantages

5 disadvantages of homework

Teens cite homework as causing stress, but homework does have advantages as well as disadvantages.

Homework’s merits have been debated for decades, 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.

Homework Advantage & Disadvantage: 3 Examples

Advantage 1: homework helps to improve student achievement.

Homework teaches students various beneficial skills 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 homework is becoming an issue at home, check out this article to learn how to tackle them before they get out of hand.

Disadvantage 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 to 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.

Advantage 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: 

  • Accountability 
  • Time management
  • Self-direction
  • Critical thinking
  • Independent problem-solving

The skills learned in homework can then be applied to other subjects and practical situations in students’ daily lives.

Disadvantage 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.

Advantage 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 their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses. 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.

Disadvantage 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.

Keep reading: Get homework done right the first time with homework tips and tricks.

Need Help Completing Homework Effectively?  

There are many pros and cons of homework, so let our tutors at GradePowerLearning can help your family create great homework habits to ensure students are successful at homework.

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5 disadvantages of homework

The Pro’s and Con’s of Assigning Homework

  • July 25, 2022
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Homework is a word that students dread hearing, and it is only fair after hours of classroom work when a teacher assigns them with extra work it sends a shudder down the spine of students and perhaps their parents.

But let’s be fair for a moment and think about how many of us as teachers really didn’t enjoy homework when we were students.

If your answer is a big yes, it does not necessarily mean that one was a bad student or didn’t enjoy learning.

Our educational system revolves around the revision and extra learning process called homework, yet after all the prolonged discussion on whether children should be assigned extra tasks for home, the question remains, is there a benefit of homework? There’s different points of view on assigning homework.

More importantly, are there any pros or cons to assigning homework, or does it just burden growing young minds.

To answer this question, a single debate is not going to be enough; instead, I will list all the major pros and cons that have surfaced via different research and case studies that genuinely make a point.

Let’s start with the PROS of assigning homework.

Number 1: it encourages practice.

Repeating the same problems over and over can be boring and difficult, but it also reinforces the practice of discipline. To get better at a skill, repetition is often necessary. You get better with each repetition. By having homework completed every night, especially with a difficult subject, the concepts become easier to understand.

Repeating the same tasks on a daily basis is far from the definition of fun for the average person. Without repetition, however, it is difficult to improve personal skills or discover new talents.

Homework is an opportunity to lay the framework of discipline that can last for a lifetime. Sometimes, homework isn’t about the actual work that needs to be finished. It is about learning how to manage oneself so that personal goals can be consistently achieved.

That gives the student an advantage later on in life when seeking a vocational career.

Number 2: Homework encourages parents’ involvement

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.

Even parents who are classroom chaperones don’t get to see everything their child is learning each day. Homework is an opportunity to know what is being taught by their child’s teacher. Not only does this help to engage the learning process for everyone, but it also provides a chance for parents to ask questions about the curriculum or express concerns they may have.

Number 3: It extends the learning process throughout the day

Most school subjects are limited to 30-60 minutes of instruction per day. Specialty subjects, such as art and music, may be limited to 1-2 hours per week. Assigning homework allows students to have their learning process extended in these areas, allowing them to develop a piece of deeper knowledge, interest, or passion about certain matters. Time shortages can create knowledge gaps. Homework can help to lessen or eliminate those gaps.

Number 4: It requires students to learn time management

Homework can involve many different tasks. It becomes necessary for students to manage their time wisely to ensure they can get their work finished on time. It encourages students to set priorities for their time to accomplish their goals and not feel like they missed out on something. This process encourages problem-solving, creative thinking, and personal responsibility. These benefits don’t just stop with the student either. Families must learn time management to accommodate the homework needs as well.

Number 5: It creates communication networks

For homework to be effective, there must be two communication networks present. Parents and children must form a network. Parents and teachers must also form a network. By sending homework on a regular basis, these networks stay activated so that the student can receive an individualized learning opportunity. Parents understand the teachers better. Teachers understand the students better. Students, though they may hate the homework, can understand their lessons better. It becomes a winning situation for everyone involved.

Number 6: It can take kids away from computers, TVs, and mobile devices

Today’s students spend almost as much time at school as they do watching TV or using an electronic device. Students spend up to 4 hours per school night on electronic devices and up to 8 hours per weekend day. By encouraging homework, the amount of time being spend in front of screens can be reduced. In return, there is a lower risk of eye strain, myopia, headaches, and other issues that are associated with high levels of screen use.

Number 7: It can foster deeper parent/child relationships

Parents are very busy today. About 60% of all two-parent families have both parents employed. In single-parent families, the amount of contact time a parent might have with their child could be as little as 2-3 hours per day. Homework is an opportunity for parents to provide their wisdom and expertise to their children in a way that benefits everyone. Not only is the information passed along, but every homework opportunity is also a chance for parents and children to foster deeper relationships with one another.

Number 8: It encourages discipline

Homework is an opportunity to lay the framework of discipline that can last for a lifetime. Again, like I said earlier, homework isn’t about the actual work that needs to be finished. It is about learning how to manage oneself so that personal goals can be consistently achieved.

Number 9: It sets the stage for a vocational career

Many vocations require their workers to be available at different hours during the day. Some require employees to be ready, in an on-call status. An important work project might need to be completed at home. When teachers and schools assign homework to students, it is an opportunity to learn what the world is really like. There are some days when extended work is required. In return, once that work is completed, you get to do all the fun things you want to do.

Number 10: It is an opportunity to find pride in one’s work

Doing a good job on something feels good. It gives you confidence and boosts your self-esteem. Homework can provide these benefits, especially when the work meets or exceeds expectations. Finding pride in one’s work can help students determine who they want to be when they grow up.

Now all of this sounds extremely convincing, and if you leave with this information, you will consider homework the best therapy for improving your student’s command of their curriculum. But there is more to the story; while homework can be a life-improving activity, it has its own potential threats that are becoming common as the curriculum becomes tougher and tougher with respect to the grade in which the child is assigned.

Not all minds think alike; similarly, the perception and acceptance of homework vary among students by a broad spectrum.

Some are okay with it, and they will finish the task despite their interest; some will consider it a chore and will try to get through it as soon as possible, while some will enjoy the extra burden of homework and enjoy the extra learning.

They all perceive different benefits, advantages, and disadvantages of having homework. And being a teacher the hardest part is to explain to a student why the assigned homework will benefit them when it’s time for end of year assessments.

In light of this argument, I would like to share the CONS or disadvantages of assigning homework.

Again teachers might not approve of the facts, but the key to success is to find the equilibrium point the sweet spot to reap maximum benefits from assigning homework to students.

Number 1: It eliminates playtime from a child’s routine

Many children already put in the same number of hours for their schooling and activities as their parents do with their full-time jobs. Sports, clubs, Girl or Boy Scouts, church activities, and more are all part of the modern routine. There needs to be time for playing in there as well, and homework can take that time away. When children aren’t given time to play, they have lower levels of personal safety awareness, have lower average grades, and have a higher risk of health concerns.

Number 2: It is often graded on benchmarks instead of personal achievement

The goal of homework is to increase personal knowledge in a specific area. The reasons for this need are often mixed. It is often assigned to improve a specific test score instead of improving a specific personal skill or habit. Since homework is often completed at a time when children feel tired after school, the amount of information they retain is limited. If stress, anxiety, or even hunger are added into the mix, the results of homework can be negligible or even negative.

Number 3: It can be used to offset teaching shortfalls

The general rule of homework is that 10 minutes per day should be assigned at maximum, based on the student’s grade level.

A 1st grader should receive 10 minutes per day at maximum, a 2nd grader should receive 20 minutes, and so forth. Yet, in the U.S., the average 1st grader comes home with 20 minutes of homework – double the recommended amount. That means it is being used more for educational shortfalls than for student development in many cases.

Number 4: It reduces the amount of outdoor time

As homework responsibilities have risen, the amount of time children spent outside playing has decreased. In the past generation, the amount of outdoor playtime has been almost cut in half. At the same time, homework assignments have risen by an almost equal level. The average amount of homework assign to a high school senior in the U.S. is 3 hours per day at high-performing schools. That means some students work longer hours in their education than their parents do for their full-time job.

Number 5: It encourages shortcuts

Students assigned high levels of homework begin to look for ways to reduce their time commitments. That means trying to find shortcuts to the process. It could mean a student decides to put in a 50% effort to have more energy to do something else later in the day. Many families with multiple children do their homework together just to save time. That reduces the effectiveness of what the homework is supposed to accomplish.

Number 6: It may be beyond the parent’s scope of knowledge

Changing lesson plans mean homework assignments follow different rules than parents may know compared to their time in school. Common Core mathematics is one of the best examples of this. If parents cannot help with the core concepts of a homework assignment and do not have access to helpful information, then the purpose of the homework is lost. The results can be detrimental to the learning process. It can even rob students and parents of their confidence.

Number 7: It isn’t something that can be enforced

Refusing to do homework is not against the law. Some students may decide that the consequences they receive at school for not doing their homework are worth the time-savings they receive in not doing it. Motivation can be a tricky thing. Unless there is value in the homework being sent home on some level, there will always be a handful of students in every school who decide that the effort of doing the work isn’t valuable enough to them.

Number 8: It decreases the development of creative processes

Homework is usually structured around the completion of a specific assignment. Even in art, music, or writing, the homework must be completed in a specific way to receive a good grade. That means homework is teaching concepts of compliance more than it is teaching concepts of skill development.

Number 9: It reduces the amount of down time a student receives

It is true that the average student may spend up to 4 hours every school night in front of an electronic screen. That might mean a movie, a TV show, or video games. More homework is being administered through electronic devices as well. This leaves less time for students to pursue extra-curricular activities, develop a new hobby, or spend time with their families. Excessive homework can even lead to learning burnout when it occurs for long enough.

Number 10: It may not offer any skill improvement

Except for outlier surveys, homework does the best job of creating a negative attitude toward learning something new. Kids don’t want to go to school because they don’t want to receive tons of homework that need to be done. Parents are even required to initial or sign an acknowledgement that the homework has been completed. If that signature doesn’t happen, who receives a consequence at school? The student. Homework can help students fall behind their peers in specific areas, especially if private tutoring is involved, but the other benefits of homework may be overstated.

Number 11: It adds more time to a child’s daily responsibilities

The average school begins their day at 8am. The school day ends at 2:30 or 3:20pm. Many students can easily reach 8 hours of school responsibilities every day. Homework for the weekend may include up to another 6 hours of school responsibilities for a high-performing school. Children as young as 5 are going to formal school settings for 6-8 hours every day. Although this does accommodate the working hours of parents, it creates a huge strain on the kids. Some just feel like they don’t have time to be a kid any more.

Number 12: It could encourage a low-movement lifestyle

Children often sit for long periods of time when in the school environment. They often sit for long periods while completing their homework. Recent research suggests that prolonged sitting could be just as dangerous to a person’s health as smoking. With obesity levels at record highs around the world, but especially in the United States, the best homework to send home might just be to go outside to play for some time.

Number 13: It puts some children at a disadvantage

Not every parent is invested into their child’s education. Not every parent helps a child with the homework they have. Some parents may not even come home at night. Children that come from homes where their parents are not invested in them tend to be at a disadvantage when it comes to homework. Without any home support, a child can feel like their teacher and their parents are both “out to get them.” This feeling can inspire a number of negative choices, including criminal activity.

Teachers, I want to point this out…homework needs to be relevant

Homework should not be graded

Homework should not be given just to give it

Homework should not be new learning

Instead of a worksheet, let’s say you want to reinforce a geometry math lesson, have the student make a list of “geometric shapes” in their home; or if you’re studying rocks, have student collect rocks to bring to class – you get the point. I hope that this post has given you some valuable insights as to the pro’s and con’s of assigning homework.

Steve Hiles

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5 disadvantages of homework

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful and enjoy hearing about my personal journey. Thanks for visiting!

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5 disadvantages of homework

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Adolescent girl doing homework.

What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

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10 Disadvantages of Homework and their Impact on Students

10 disadvantages of homework

Homework has long been a staple in the education system, serving as a bridge between classroom learning and independent study. While it is intended to reinforce lessons and encourage self-discipline, the 10 disadvantages of homework cannot be ignored. In this exploration, we delve into the darker side of homework, shedding light on ten significant drawbacks that students, parents, and educators alike must consider.

Table of Contents

Why do School Teachers Assign Homework to Students?

Reinforcement of learning.

Homework provides an opportunity for students to reinforce and practice what they have learned in the classroom. It helps solidify concepts and ensures that the information is retained.

Independent Learning

Homework encourages independent learning and self-discipline. It allows students to take responsibility for their education and develop important skills such as time management and organizational skills.

Preparation for Assessments

Homework assignments often prepare students for upcoming assessments, exams, or classroom discussions. It allows them to apply the knowledge gained in class to solve problems or answer questions independently.

Extension of Learning Beyond the Classroom

Homework extends the learning process beyond the confines of the classroom. It provides students with the opportunity to explore topics in more depth and broaden their understanding.

Parental Involvement

Homework fosters parental involvement in a child’s education. It gives parents insight into what their children are learning and provides an opportunity for them to support and guide their child’s academic progress.

Skill Development

Certain types of homework assignments aim to develop specific skills such as research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills. These skills are crucial for academic success and future endeavors.

Preparation for Real-world Responsibilities

Homework helps prepare students for the responsibilities they will face in the real world. Meeting deadlines, managing workload, and balancing various tasks are skills that can be honed through consistent homework assignments.

Feedback and Assessment

Homework allows teachers to assess students’ understanding of the material. Through reviewing and grading homework, educators can provide valuable feedback, identify areas of struggle, and tailor their teaching accordingly.

Covering More Material

Given the limited time in class, homework provides a way to cover additional material that might not be possible during regular class hours. This can be especially important for advanced or specialized topics.

Promoting a Work Ethic

Regular homework assignments instill a sense of responsibility and work ethic in students. It helps them understand the value of effort and diligence in the pursuit of academic excellence.

10 Disadvantages of Homework

  • Impact on Students’ Well-being

Homework is often a source of stress and anxiety for students. The pressure to complete assignments on time, coupled with the demands of other responsibilities, can result in a significant toll on mental health. Many students find themselves sacrificing much-needed sleep to meet deadlines, leading to a vicious cycle of stress and fatigue.

  • Impact on Family Life

The introduction of homework can strain parent-child relationships. The struggle to assist with assignments, especially when parents may not fully grasp the material, can lead to frustration and tension at home. Additionally, the time spent on homework can limit the availability of quality family time, hindering the development of strong familial bonds.

  • Limited Time for Extracurricular Activities

Homework often encroaches upon the time students could spend engaging in extracurricular activities. The pressure to complete assignments can reduce participation in sports, clubs, and other activities that contribute to a holistic and well-rounded education.

  • Inequality Among Students

Homework can exacerbate existing educational inequalities. Students with varying levels of access to resources, such as the internet, textbooks, or parental assistance, may face different challenges. This can further perpetuate disparities in academic achievement and opportunities for success.

  • Potential for Plagiarism

This is another point of 10 disadvantages of homework. As the emphasis on completing assignments grows, so does the temptation to resort to plagiarism. The pressure to deliver on time may lead some students to take shortcuts, undermining the educational value of homework and diverting focus from genuine learning to mere completion.

  • Lack of Feedback

In the rush to cover curriculum content, teachers may not provide sufficient guidance on homework assignments. This lack of feedback deprives students of the opportunity to clarify doubts and learn from their mistakes, hindering their overall understanding of the material.

  • Overemphasis on Grades

Homework often places a disproportionate emphasis on grades rather than understanding. Students may focus on completing assignments mechanically, with little regard for the depth of comprehension. This shift from a focus on learning to a focus on grades can diminish intrinsic motivation for academic pursuits.

  • Impact on Physical Health

The sedentary nature of homework contributes to a lifestyle that lacks physical activity. Prolonged periods spent sitting while working on assignments can lead to various health issues, including obesity, eye strain, and other ergonomic-related problems.

  • Reduced Creativity

Homework assignments, particularly those with strict guidelines, can limit students’ creativity. The pressure to conform to specific criteria may stifle the exploration of diverse ideas and unique approaches to problem-solving, hindering the development of creative thinking skills.

  • Potential for Academic Burnout

The cumulative stress of consistent homework assignments can contribute to academic burnout. Students facing overwhelming workloads over an extended period may find their enthusiasm for learning diminishing, ultimately impacting their long-term academic performance.

Counter Arguments

While these 10 disadvantages of homework shed light on the challenges posed by homework, it’s crucial to acknowledge the potential benefits. Homework can serve as a reinforcement tool, solidifying concepts learned in class. It also provides an opportunity for students to develop discipline and time management skills, essential for success in future academic and professional endeavors.

How to Overcome The Fear of Homework?

  • Understand the Fear: Begin by identifying the specific aspects of homework that trigger fear. Whether it’s the volume of assignments, fear of failure, or a lack of understanding, pinpointing the source of anxiety is the first step toward overcoming it.
  • Break it Down: Instead of viewing homework as an overwhelming whole, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Create a list of specific assignments or components and tackle them one at a time. This approach can make the workload seem less daunting.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals for each study session. Establishing realistic expectations helps build confidence and reduces the fear of not meeting high standards. Celebrate small victories along the way to foster a positive mindset.
  • Create a Schedule: Establish a consistent homework schedule to create a sense of routine and predictability. Knowing when to expect homework time can reduce anxiety by providing structure and making the workload feel more manageable.
  • Find a Suitable Environment: Choose a comfortable and quiet place to do homework. A conducive environment can minimize distractions and promote focus, making the task at hand feel less intimidating.
  • Seek Help When Needed: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when faced with challenging concepts. Whether it’s from a teacher, classmate, or a tutor, seeking assistance can provide clarity and boost confidence in tackling assignments.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Integrate relaxation techniques into your homework routine. Deep breathing, mindfulness, or short breaks can help alleviate stress and make the overall experience more enjoyable.
  • Develop a Positive Mindset: Challenge negative thoughts about homework and replace them with positive affirmations. Recognize that learning is a process, and mistakes are opportunities for growth. Cultivate a mindset that views challenges as a natural part of the learning journey.
  • Reward Yourself: Establish a system of rewards for completing homework or reaching milestones. Positive reinforcement can create positive associations with the task, making it less fear-inducing.
  • Stay Organized: Keep track of assignments, due dates, and materials needed. Organization reduces last-minute panic and enhances preparedness, contributing to a more positive homework experience.
  • Mix in Enjoyable Elements: Infuse elements of enjoyment into your homework routine. Listen to music, use colorful stationery, or incorporate creative methods to make the process more engaging.
  • Communicate with Teachers: If the fear of homework persists, communicate with teachers about your concerns. They can provide additional guidance, support, or adjustments to help ease the anxiety.

In conclusion, while homework is deeply ingrained in the education system, it is essential to recognize its potential drawbacks. From the impact on students’ well-being to the potential for academic burnout, each disadvantage carries weight. Striking a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of homework is key to fostering a positive and effective learning environment. As we navigate the educational landscape, it is crucial to consider alternative approaches that prioritize the holistic development and well-being of students.

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18 Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework Should Be Banned

Homework has been a part of the schooling experience for multiple generations. There are some lessons that are perfect for the classroom environment, but there are also some things that children can learn better at home. As a general rule, the maximum amount of time that a student should spend each day on lessons outside of school is 10 minutes per each grade level.

That means a first grader should spend about 10 minutes each night on homework. If you are a senior in high school, then the maximum limit would be two hours. For some students, that might still be too much extra time doing work. There are some calls to limit the amount of time spent on extra limits to 30 minutes per day at all of the older K-12 grades – and some are saying that homework should be banned outright.

Can teachers get all of the lessons taught in an appropriate way during the 1-2 hours per subject that they might get each day? Do parents have an opportunity to review what their children learn at school if none of the work ever gets brought back home?

There are several advantages and disadvantages of why homework should be banned from the current school structure.

List of the Advantages of Why Homework Should Be Banned

1. Homework creates a longer day for students than what parents work. There are times when parents need to bring work home with them after a long day of productivity, but this time is usually part of a compensation package. Students do not receive the same luxury. After spending 6-8 hours at school, there might be two more hours of homework to complete before getting through all of the assignments that are due. That means some kids are putting in a longer working day than their parents. This disadvantage means there are fewer moments for going outside, spending time with friends, or pursuing a hobby.

2. There is no guarantee of an improved academic outcome. Research studies provide conflicting results when looking at the impact of homework on a student’s life. Younger students may benefit from a complete ban so that they can separate their home and classroom experiences. Even older students who perform projects outside of the school benefit from time restrictions on this responsibility. Design flaws exist on both sides of the clinical work that looks at this topic, so there is no definitive scientific conclusion that points to a specific result. It may be better to err on the side of caution.

3. Homework restrictions reduce issues with classroom burnout for students. Homework stress is a significant problem in the modern classroom for K-12 students. Even kids in grade school are finding it a challenge to maintain their performance because of the pressure that daily assignments cause. About 1 in 4 teachers in North America say that there are direct adverse impacts that happen because of the amount of learning required of students today. It can also cause older students to drop out of school because they can’t stay caught up on the work that they need to do.

When students have a chance to have time to pursue interests outside of the classroom, then it can create healthier learning opportunities in the future for them.

4. Banning homework would give families more time to spend together. One in three American households with children say that the homework assignments that teachers give are the primary source of stress in their home. When kids must complete their work by a specific deadline, then there is less time for families to do activities together. Instead of scheduling their time around their free hours, they must balance homework requirements in their plans. There are even fewer moments for parents to be involved in the learning process because of the specific instructions that students must follow to stay in compliance with the assignment.

5. Student health is adversely impacted by too many homework assignments. Kids of any age struggle academically when they do not have opportunities to finish their homework by a specific deadline. It is not unusual for school administrators and some teachers to judge children based on their ability to turn work in on time. If a child has a robust work ethic and still cannot complete the work, the negative approach that they might encounter in the classroom could cause them to abandon their learning goals.

This issue can even lead to the development of mental health problems. It can reduce a child’s self-esteem, prevent them from learning essential learning skills, and disrupt their ability to learn new skills in other areas of life outside of the classroom. Even the risk of self-harm and suicide increase because of excessive homework. That’s why banning it could be a healthy choice for some people.

6. Banning homework would help students get more sleep. Teens need up to 10 hours of sleep each night to maximize their productivity. Students in grade school can need up to 12 hours nightly as well. When homework assignments are necessary and time consuming, then this issue can eat into the amount of rest that kids get each night. Every assignment given to a K-12 student increases their risks of losing at least one hour of sleep per night. This issue can eventually lead to sleep deficits that can create chronic learning issues. It may even lead to problems with emotional control, obesity, and attention problems. Banning homework would remove the issue entirely.

7. It would encourage dynamic learning opportunities. There are some homework projects that students find to be engaging, such as a science fair project or another hands-on assignment. Many of the tasks that students must complete for their teachers involves repetition instead. You might see grade school students coming home with math sheets with 100 or more problems for them to solve. Reading assignments are common at all grades. Instead of learning the “why” behind the information they learn, the goal with homework is usually closer to memorization that it is to self-discovery. That’s why it can be challenging to retain the data that homework provides.

8. Banning homework would provide more time for peer socialization. Students who are only spending time in school before going home to do homework for the rest of the evening are at a higher risk of experiencing isolation and loneliness. When these sentiments are present in the life of a child, then they are more likely to experience physical and mental health concerns that lead to shyness and avoidance.

These students lack essential connections with other people because of their need to complete homework. The adverse impact on the well being of a child is the equivalent of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes each day. If kids are spending time all of their time on homework, then they are not connecting with their family and friends.

9. Some students do not have a home environment that’s conducive to homework. Although some kids can do their homework in a tranquil room without distress, that is not the case for most children. Numerous events happen at home that can shift a child’s attention away from the homework that their teacher wants them to complete. It isn’t just the TV, video games, and the Internet which are problematic either. Family problems, chores, an after-school job, and team sports can make it problematic to get the assignments finished on time.

Banning homework equalizes the playing field because teachers can control the classroom environment. They do not have control over when, where, or how their students complete assignments away from school.

10. It would eliminate the assignment of irrelevant work. Homework can be a useful tool when teachers use it in targeted ways. There are times when these assignments are handed out for the sake of giving out busy work. If the content of the work is irrelevant to the lessons in the classroom, then it should not be handed out. It is unreasonable to expect that a student can generate excellent grades on work that is barely covered in the classroom.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that given students just four hours of take-home assignments per week has a detrimental impact on individual productivity. The average U.S. high school already pushes that limit by offering 3.5 hours of extra assignments per week.

List of the Disadvantages of Why Homework Should Be Banned

1. Teachers can see if students understand the materials being taught. Homework allows a teacher to determine if a student has a grasp on the materials being taught in the classroom. Tests and school-based activities can provide this information as well, but not in the same way. If the data sticks outside of the educational setting, then this is an excellent indication that the process was effective for that individual. If there are gaps in knowledge that occur in the homework, then the learning process can become individualized to ensure the best possible results for each child.

2. Homework can reduce the stress and anxiety of test-taking. Students often study for tests at home to ensure that they can pass with an acceptable grade. Walking into a classroom only prepared with the notes and memories of previous lessons can create high levels of fear that could impact that child’s final result. Banning homework could place more pressure on kids to succeed than what they currently experience today. This disadvantage would also create more labels in the classroom based on the performance of each child in unfair ways. Some students excel in a lecture-based environment, but others do better at home where there are fewer distractions.

3. Assignments can be an effective way to discover learning disabilities. Kids do an excellent job of hiding their struggles in the classroom from adults. They use their disguises as a coping mechanism to help them blend in when they feel different. That behavior can make it a challenge to identify students who many benefit from a different learning approach in specific subjects. By assigning homework to each child periodically, there are more opportunities to identify the issues that can hold some people back. Then the teachers can work with the families to develop alternative learning plans that can make the educational process better for each student because individual assignments eliminate the ability to hide.

4. Parents are more involved in the learning process because of homework. Parents need to know what their children are learning in school. Even if they ask their kids about what they are learning, the answers tend to be given in generalities. Without specific examples from the classroom, it is challenging to stay involved in a student’s educational process.

By sending homework from the school, it allows the entire family to encounter the assignments that their kids are doing when they are in school during the day. Then there is more adult involvement with the learning process, reinforcing the core ideas that were discovered by their kids each day.

5. Homework provides opportunities for students to use deeper research. The average classroom in the United States provides less than 60 minutes of instruction for each subject daily. Generalist teachers in grade school might skip certain subjects on some days as well. When there are homework assignments going home, then it creates more chances to use the tools at home to learn more about what is happening at school. Taking a deeper look at specific subjects or lessons through independent study can lead to new thoughts or ideas that may not occur in the classroom environment. This process can eventually lead to a better understanding of the material.

6. The homework process requires time management and persistence to be successful. Students must learn core life skills as part of the educational process. Time management skills are one of the most useful tools that can be in a child’s life toolbox. When you know how to complete work by a deadline consistently, then this skill can translate to an eventual career. Homework can also teach students how to solve complex problems, understand current events, or tap into what they are passionate about in life. By learning from an early age that there are jobs that we sometimes need to do even if we don’t want to them, the persistence lessons can translate into real successes later in life.

7. Assignments make students accountable for their role in the educational process. Teachers cannot force a student to learn anything. There must be a desire present in the child to know more for information retention to occur. An education can dramatically improve the life of a child in multiple ways. It can lead to more income opportunities, a greater understanding of the world, and how to establish a healthy routine. By offering homework to students, teachers are encouraging today’s kids how to be accountable for their role in their own education. It creates opportunities to demonstrate responsibility by proving that the work can be done on time and to a specific quality.

8. It creates opportunities to practice time management. There can be problems with homework for some students when they are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities. If you give a child two hours of homework after school and they have two hours of commitments to manage at the same time, then there are some significant challenges to their time management to solve. Time really is a finite commodity. If we are unable to manage it in wise ways, then our productivity levels are going to be limited in multiple ways. Creating a calendar with every responsibility and commitment helps kids and their families figure out ways to manage everything while pushing the learning process forward.

Verdict of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Banning Homework

Some students thrive on the homework they receive from their teachers each day. There are also some kids that struggle to complete even basic assignments on time because of their home environment. How can we find a balance between the two extremes so that every child can receive the best possible chance to succeed?

One solution is to ban homework entirely. Although taking this action would require teachers and parents to be proactive in their communication, it could help to equalize the educational opportunities in the classroom.

Until more research occurs in this area, the advantages and disadvantages of banning homework are subjective. If you feel that your child would benefit from a reduced workload, then speak with the teacher to see if this is an option. For teens and older students, there is always the option to pursue a different form of education, such as a vocational school or an apprenticeship, if the traditional classroom doesn’t seem to be working.

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“Homework Should Be…but We Do Not Live in an Ideal World”: Mathematics Teachers’ Perspectives on Quality Homework and on Homework Assigned in Elementary and Middle Schools

Pedro rosário.

1 Departamento de Psicologia Aplicada, Escola de Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal

Jennifer Cunha

Tânia nunes, ana rita nunes, tânia moreira, josé carlos núñez.

2 Departamento de Psicología, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain

Associated Data

Existing literature has analyzed homework characteristics associated with academic results. Researchers and educators defend the need to provide quality homework, but there is still much to be learned about the characteristics of quality homework (e.g., purposes, type). Acknowledging that teachers play an important role in designing and assigning homework, this study explored teachers’ perspectives regarding: (i) the characteristics of quality homework and (ii) the characteristics of the homework tasks assigned. In the current study, mathematics teachers from elementary and middle schools ( N = 78) participated in focus group discussions. To enhance the trustworthiness of the findings, homework tasks assigned by 25% of the participants were analyzed for triangulation of data purposes. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis for elementary and middle school separately. Teachers discussed the various characteristics of quality homework (e.g., short assignments, adjusted to the availability of students) and shared the characteristics of the homework tasks typically assigned, highlighting a few differences (e.g., degree of individualization of homework, purposes) between these two topics. Globally, data on the homework tasks assigned were consistent with teachers’ reports about the characteristics of the homework tasks they usually assigned. Findings provide valuable insights for research and practice aimed to promote the quality of homework and consequently students’ learning and progress.

Introduction

The extensive literature on homework suggests the importance of completing homework tasks to foster students’ academic achievement (e.g., Trautwein and Lüdtke, 2009 ; Hagger et al., 2015 ; Núñez et al., 2015a ; Valle et al., 2016 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2017 ). However, existing research also indicate that the amount of homework assigned is not always related to high academic achievement ( Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012 ). In the words of Dettmers et al. (2010) “homework works if quality is high” (p. 467). However, further research is needed to answer the question “What is quality homework?”.

Teachers are responsible for designing and assigning homework, thus our knowledge on their perspectives about this topic and the characteristics of the homework typically assigned is expected to be a relevant contribution to the literature on the quality of homework. Moreover, data on the characteristics of homework could provide valuable information to unveil the complex network of relationships between homework and academic achievement (e.g., Cooper, 2001 ; Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ; Trautwein et al., 2009a ; Xu, 2010 ).

Thus, focusing on the perspective of mathematics teachers from elementary and middle school, the aims of the present study are twofold: to explore the characteristics of quality homework, and to identify the characteristics of the homework tasks typically assigned at these school levels. Findings may help deepen our understanding of why homework may impact differently the mathematics achievement of elementary and middle school students (see Fan et al., 2017 ).

Research Background on Homework Characteristics

Homework is a complex educational process involving a diverse set of variables that each may influence students’ academic outcomes (e.g., Corno, 2000 ; Trautwein and Köller, 2003 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012 ). Cooper (1989 , 2001 ) presented a model outlining the factors that may potentially influence the effect of homework at the three stages of the homework process (i.e., design of the homework assignment, completion of homework and homework follow-up practices). At the first stage teachers are expected to consider class characteristics (e.g., students’ prior knowledge, grade level, number of students per class), and also variables that may influence the impact of homework on students’ outcomes, such as homework assignment characteristics. In 1989, Cooper (see also Cooper et al., 2006 ) presented a list of the characteristics of homework assignments as follows: amount (comprising homework frequency and length), purpose, skill area targeted, degree of individualization, student degree of choice, completion deadlines, and social context. Based on existing literature, Trautwein et al. (2006b) proposed a distinct organization for the assignment characteristics. The proposal included: homework frequency (i.e., how often homework assignments are prescribed to students), quality, control, and adaptivity. “Homework frequency” and “adaptivity” are similar to “amount” and “degree of individualization” in Cooper’s model, respectively. Both homework models provide a relevant theoretical framework for the present study.

Prior research has analyzed the relationship between homework variables, students’ behaviors and academic achievement, and found different results depending on the variables examined (see Trautwein et al., 2009b ; Fan et al., 2017 ). For example, while homework frequency consistently and positively predicted students’ academic achievement (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2002 ; Trautwein, 2007 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2015 ), findings regarding the amount of homework assigned (usually assessed by the time spent on homework) have shown mixed results (e.g., Trautwein, 2007 ; Dettmers et al., 2009 ; Núñez et al., 2015a ). Data indicated a positive association between the amount of homework and students’ academic achievement in high school (e.g., OECD, 2014a ); however, this relationship is almost null in elementary school (e.g., Cooper et al., 2006 ; Rosário et al., 2009 ). Finally, other studies reported a negative association between time spent on homework and students’ academic achievement at different school levels (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2009b ; Rosário et al., 2011 ; Núñez et al., 2015a ).

Homework purposes are among the factors that may influence the effect of homework on students’ homework behaviors and academic achievement ( Cooper, 2001 ; Trautwein et al., 2009a ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012 ; Rosário et al., 2015 ). In his model Cooper (1989 , 2001 ) reported instructional purposes (i.e., practicing or reviewing, preparation, integration and extension) and non-instructional purposes (i.e., parent-child communication, fulfilling directives, punishment, and community relations). Depending on their nature, homework instructional purposes may vary throughout schooling ( Muhlenbruck et al., 2000 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ). For example, in elementary school, teachers are likely to use homework as an opportunity to review the content taught in class, while in secondary school (6th–12th grade), teachers are prone to use homework to prepare students for the content to be learned in subsequent classes ( Muhlenbruck et al., 2000 ). Still, studies have recently shown that practicing the content learned is the homework purpose most frequently used throughout schooling (e.g., Xu and Yuan, 2003 ; Danielson et al., 2011 ; Kaur, 2011 ; Bang, 2012 ; Kukliansky et al., 2014 ). Studies using quantitative methodologies have analyzed the role played by homework purposes in students’ effort and achievement ( Trautwein et al., 2009a ; Rosário et al., 2015 , 2018 ), and reported distinct results depending on the subject analyzed. For example, Foyle et al. (1990) found that homework assignments with the purposes of practice and preparation improved the performance of 5th-grade students’ social studies when compared with the no-homework group. However, no statistical difference was found between the two types of homework purposes analyzed (i.e., practice and preparation). When examining the homework purposes reported by 8th-grade teachers of French as a Second Language (e.g., drilling and practicing, motivating, linking school and home), Trautwein et al. (2009a) found that students in classes assigned tasks with high emphasis on motivation displayed more effort and achieved higher outcomes than their peers. On the contrary, students in classes assigned tasks with high drill and practice reported less homework effort and achievement ( Trautwein et al., 2009a ). A recent study by Rosário et al. (2015) analyzed the relationship between homework assignments with various types of purposes (i.e., practice, preparation and extension) and 6th-grade mathematics achievement. These authors reported that homework with the purpose of “extension” impacted positively on students’ academic achievement while the other two homework purposes did not.

Cooper (1989 , 2001 ) identified the “degree of individualization” as a characteristic of homework focused on the need to design homework addressing different levels of performance. For example, some students need to be assigned practice exercises with a low level of difficulty to help them reach school goals, while others need to be assigned exercises with high levels of complexity to foster their motivation for homework ( Trautwein et al., 2002 ). When there is a disparity between the level of difficulty of homework assignments and students’ skills level, students may have to spend long hours doing homework, and they may experience negative emotions or even avoid doing homework ( Corno, 2000 ). On the contrary, when homework assignments meet students’ learning needs (e.g., Bang, 2012 ; Kukliansky et al., 2014 ), both students’ homework effort and academic achievement increase (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2006a ; Zakharov et al., 2014 ). Teachers may also decide on the time given to students to complete their homework ( Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ). For example, homework may be assigned to be delivered in the following class (e.g., Kaur et al., 2004 ) or within a week (e.g., Kaur, 2011 ). However, research on the beneficial effects of each practice is still limited.

Trautwein et al. (2006b) investigated homework characteristics other than those previously reported. Their line of research analyzed students’ perception of homework quality and homework control (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2006b ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ). Findings on homework quality (e.g., level of difficulty of the mathematics exercises, Trautwein et al., 2002 ; homework “cognitively activating” and “well prepared”, Trautwein et al., 2006b , p. 448; homework selection and level of challenge, Dettmers et al., 2010 ; Rosário et al., 2018 ) varied regarding the various measures and levels of analysis considered. For example, focusing on mathematics, Trautwein et al. (2002) concluded that “demanding” exercises improved 7th-grade students’ achievement at student and class levels, while “repetitive exercises” impacted negatively on students’ achievement. Dettmers et al. (2010) found that homework assignments perceived by students as “well-prepared and interesting” (p. 471) positively predicted 9th- and 10th-grade students’ homework motivation (expectancy and value beliefs) and behavior (effort and time) at student and class level, and mathematics achievement at class level only. These authors also reported that “cognitively challenging” homework (p. 471), as perceived by students, negatively predicted students’ expectancy beliefs at both levels, and students’ homework effort at student level ( Dettmers et al., 2010 ). Moreover, this study showed that “challenging homework” significantly and positively impacted on students’ mathematics achievement at class level ( Dettmers et al., 2010 ). At elementary school, homework quality (assessed through homework selection) predicted positively 6th-grade students’ homework effort, homework performance, and mathematics achievement ( Rosário et al., 2018 ).

Finally, Trautwein and colleagues investigated the variable “homework control” perceived by middle school students and found mixed results. The works by Trautwein and Lüdtke (2007 , 2009 ) found that “homework control” predicted positively students’ homework effort in mathematics, but other studies (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2002 , 2006b ) did not predict homework effort and mathematics achievement.

The Present Study

A vast body of research indicates that homework enhances students’ academic achievement [see the meta-analysis conducted by Fan et al. (2017) ], however, maladaptive homework behaviors of students (e.g., procrastination, lack of interest in homework, failure to complete homework) may affect homework benefits ( Bembenutty, 2011a ; Hong et al., 2011 ; Rosário et al., 2019 ). These behaviors may be related to the characteristics of the homework assigned (e.g., large amount of homework, disconnect between the type and level of difficulty of homework assignments and students’ needs and abilities, see Margolis and McCabe, 2004 ; Trautwein, 2007 ).

Homework is only valuable to students’ learning when its quality is perceived by students ( Dettmers et al., 2010 ). Nevertheless, little is known about the meaning of homework quality for teachers who are responsible for assigning homework. What do teachers understand to be quality homework? To our knowledge, the previous studies exploring teachers’ perspectives on their homework practices did not relate data with quality homework (e.g., Xu and Yuan, 2003 ; Danielson et al., 2011 ; Kaur, 2011 ; Bang, 2012 ; Kukliansky et al., 2014 ). For example, Kukliansky et al. (2014) found a disconnect between middle school science teachers’ perspectives about their homework practices and their actual homework practices observed in class. However, results were not further explained.

The current study aims to explore teachers’ perspectives on the characteristics of quality homework, and on the characteristics underlying the homework tasks assigned. Findings are expected to shed some light on the role of teachers in the homework process and contribute to maximize the benefits of homework. Our results may be useful for either homework research (e.g., by informing new quantitative studies grounded on data from teachers’ perspectives) or educational practice (e.g., by identifying new avenues for teacher training and the defining of guidelines for homework practices).

This study is particularly important in mathematics for the following reasons: mathematics is among the school subjects where teachers assign the largest amount of homework (e.g., Rønning, 2011 ; Xu, 2015 ), while students continue to yield worrying school results in the subject, especially in middle and high school ( Gottfried et al., 2007 ; OECD, 2014b ). Moreover, a recent meta-analysis focused on mathematics and science homework showed that the relationship between homework and academic achievement in middle school is weaker than in elementary school ( Fan et al., 2017 ). Thus, we collected data through focus group discussions with elementary and middle school mathematics teachers in order to analyze any potential variations in their perspectives on the characteristics of quality homework, and on the characteristics of homework tasks they typically assign. Regarding the latter topic, we also collected photos of homework tasks assigned by 25% of the participating teachers in order to triangulate data and enhance the trustworthiness of our findings.

Our exploratory study was guided by the following research questions:

  • simple (1) How do elementary and middle school mathematics teachers perceive quality homework?
  • simple (2) How do elementary and middle school mathematics teachers describe the homework tasks they typically assign to students?

Materials and Methods

The study context.

Despite recommendations of the need for clear homework policies (e.g., Cooper et al., 2006 ; Bembenutty, 2011b ), Portugal has no formal guidelines for homework (e.g., concerning the frequency, length, type of tasks). Still, many teachers usually include homework as part of students’ overall grade and ask parents to monitor their children’s homework completion. Moreover, according to participants there is no specific training on homework practices for pre-service or in-service teachers.

The Portuguese educational system is organized as follows: the last two years of elementary school encompass 5th and 6th grade (10 and 11 years old), while middle school encompasses 7th, 8th, and 9th grade (12 to 14 years old). At the two school levels mentioned, mathematics is a compulsory subject and students attend three to five mathematics lessons per week depending on the duration of each class (270 min per week for Grades 5 and 6, and 225 min per week for Grades 7–9). All students are assessed by their mathematics teacher (through continuous assessment tests), and at the end of elementary and middle school levels (6th and 9th grade) students are assessed externally through a national exam that counts for 30% of the overall grade. In Portuguese schools assigning homework is a frequently used educational practice, mostly in mathematics, and usually counts toward the overall grade, ranging between 2% and 5% depending on school boards ( Rosário et al., 2018 ).

Participants

In the current study, all participants were involved in focus groups and 25% of them, randomly selected, were asked to submit photos of homework tasks assigned.

According to Morgan (1997) , to maximize the discussion among participants it is important that they share some characteristics and experiences related to the aims of the study in question. In the current study, teachers were eligible to participate when the following criteria were met: (i) they had been teaching mathematics at elementary or middle school levels for at least two years; and (ii) they would assign homework regularly, at least twice a week, in order to have enough experiences to share in the focus group.

All mathematics teachers ( N = 130) from 25 elementary and middle schools in Northern Portugal were contacted by email. The email informed teachers of the purposes and procedures of the study (e.g., inclusion criteria, duration of the session, session videotaping, selection of teachers to send photos of homework tasks assigned), and invited them to participate in the study. To facilitate recruitment, researchers scheduled focus group discussions considering participants’ availability. Of the volunteer teachers, all participants met the inclusion criteria. The research team did not allocate teachers with hierarchical relationships in the same group, as this might limit freedom of responses, affect the dynamics of the discussion, and, consequently, the outcomes ( Kitzinger, 1995 ).

Initially we conducted four focus groups with elementary school teachers (5th and 6th grade, 10 and 11 years old) and four focus groups with middle school teachers (7th, 8th, and 9th grade, 12, 13 and 14 years old). Subsequently, two additional focus group discussions (one for each school level) were conducted to ensure the saturation of data. Finally, seventy-eight mathematics teachers (61 females and 17 males; an acceptance rate of 60%) from 16 schools participated in our study (see Table 1 ). The teachers enrolled in 10 focus groups comprised of seven to nine teachers per group. Twenty teachers were randomly selected and asked to participate in the second data collection; all answered positively to our invitation (15 females and 5 males).

Participants’ demographic information.

According to our participants, in the school context, mathematics teachers may teach one to eight classes of different grade levels. In the current research, participants were teaching one to five classes of two or three grade levels at schools in urban or near urban contexts. The participants practiced the mandatory nationwide curriculum and a continuous assessment policy.

Data Collection

We carried out this study following the recommendations of the ethics committee of the University of Minho. All teachers gave written informed consent to participate in the research in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The collaboration involved participating in one focus group discussion, and, for 25% of the participants, submitting photos by email of the homework tasks assigned.

In the current study, aiming to deepen our comprehension of the research questions, focus group interviews were conducted to capture participants’ thoughts about a particular topic ( Kitzinger, 1995 ; Morgan, 1997 ). The focus groups were conducted by two members of the research team (a moderator and a field note-taker) in the first term of the school year and followed the procedure described by Krueger and Casey (2000) . To prevent mishandling the discussions and to encourage teachers to participate in the sessions, the two facilitators attended a course on qualitative research offered at their home institution specifically targeting focus group methodology.

All focus group interviews were videotaped. The sessions were held in a meeting room at the University of Minho facilities, and lasted 90 to 105 min. Before starting the discussion, teachers filled in a questionnaire with sociodemographic information, and were invited to read and sign a written informed consent form. Researchers introduced themselves, and read out the information regarding the study purpose and the focus group ground rules. Participants were ensured of the confidentiality of their responses (e.g., names and researchers’ personal notes that might link participants to their schools were deleted). Then, the investigators initiated the discussion (see Table 2 ). At the end of each focus group discussion, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions or make further contributions.

Focus group questions.

After the focus group discussions, we randomly selected 25% of the participating teachers (i.e., 10 teachers from each school level), each asked to submit photos of the homework tasks assigned by email over the course of three weeks (period between two mathematics assessment tests). This data collection aimed to triangulate data from focus groups regarding the characteristics of homework usually assigned. To encourage participation, the research team sent teachers a friendly reminder email every evening throughout the period of data collection. In total, we received 125 photos (51% were from middle school teachers).

Data Analysis

Videotapes were used to assist the verbatim transcription of focus group data. Both focus group data and photos of the homework assignments were analyzed using thematic analysis ( Braun and Clarke, 2006 ), assisted by QSR International’s NVivo 10 software ( Richards, 2005 ). In this analysis there are no rigid guidelines on how to determine themes; to assure that the analysis is rigorous, researchers are expected to follow a consistent procedure throughout the analysis process ( Braun and Clarke, 2006 ). For the current study, to identify themes and sub-themes, we used the extensiveness of comments criterion (number of participants who express a theme, Krueger and Casey, 2000 ).

Firstly, following an inductive process one member of the research team read the first eight focus group transcriptions several times, took notes on the overall ideas of the data, and made a list of possible codes for data at a semantic level ( Braun and Clarke, 2006 ). Using a cluster analysis by word similarity procedure in Nvivo, all codes were grouped in order to identify sub-themes and themes posteriorly. All the themes and sub-themes were independently and iteratively identified and compared with the literature on homework ( Peterson and Irving, 2008 ). Then, the themes and sub-themes were compared with the homework characteristics already reported in the literature (e.g., Cooper, 1989 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2001 ; Trautwein et al., 2006b ). New sub-themes emerged from participants’ discourses (i.e., “adjusted to the availability of students,” “teachers diagnose learning”), and were grouped in the themes reported in the literature. After, all themes and sub-themes were organized in a coding scheme (for an example see Table 3 ). Finally, the researcher coded the two other focus group discussions, no new information was added related to the research questions. Given that the generated patterns of data were not changed, the researcher concluded that thematic saturation was reached.

Examples of the coding scheme.

An external auditor, trained on the coding scheme, revised all transcriptions, the coding scheme and the coding process in order to minimize researchers’ biases and increase the trustworthiness of the study ( Lincoln and Guba, 1985 ). The first author and the external auditor examined the final categorization of data and reached consensus.

Two other members of the research team coded independently the photos of the homework assignments using the same coding scheme of the focus groups. To analyze data, the researchers had to define the sub-themes “short assignments” (i.e., up to three exercises) and “long assignments” (i.e., more than three exercises). In the end, the two researchers reviewed the coding process and discussed the differences found (e.g., some exercises had several sub questions, so one of the researchers coded it as “long assignments”; see the homework sample 4 of the Supplementary Material ). However, the researchers reached consensus, deciding not to count the number of sub questions of each exercise individually, because these types of questions are related and do not require a significant amount of additional time.

Inter-rater reliability (Cohen’s Kappa) was calculated. The Cohen’s Kappa was 0.86 for the data analysis of the focus groups and 0.85 for data analysis of the photos of homework assignments, which is considered very good according to Landis and Koch (1977) . To obtain a pattern of data considering the school levels, a matrix coding query was run for each data source (i.e., focus groups and photos of homework assignments). Using the various criteria options in NVivo 10, we crossed participants’ classifications (i.e., school level attribute) and nodes and displayed the frequencies of responses for each row–column combination ( Bazeley and Jackson, 2013 ).

In the end of this process of data analysis, for establishing the trustworthiness of findings, 20 teachers (i.e., ten participants of each grade level) were randomly invited, and all agreed, to provide a member check of the findings ( Lincoln and Guba, 1985 ). Member checking involved two phases. First, teachers were asked individually to read a summary of the findings and to fill in a 5-point Likert scale (1, completely disagree; 5, completely agree) with four items: “Findings reflect my perspective regarding homework quality”; “Findings reflect my perspective regarding homework practices”; “Findings reflect what was discussed in the focus group where I participated”, and “I feel that my opinion was influenced by the other teachers during the discussion” (inverted item). Secondly, teachers were gathered by school level and asked to critically analyze and discuss whether an authentic representation was made of their perspectives regarding quality homework and homework practices ( Creswell, 2007 ).

This study explored teachers’ perspectives on the characteristics of quality homework, and on the characteristics of the homework tasks typically assigned. To report results, we used the frequency of occurrence criterion of the categories defined by Hill et al. (2005) . Each theme may be classified as “General” when all participants, or all except one, mention a particular theme; “Typical” when more than half of the cases mention a theme; “Variant” when more than 3, and less than half of the cases mention a theme; and “Rare” when the frequency is between 2 and 3 cases. In the current study, only general and typical themes were reported to discuss the most salient data.

The results section was organized by each research question. Throughout the analysis of the results, quotes from participants were presented to illustrate data. For the second research question, data from the homework assignments collected as photographs were also included.

Initial Data Screening

All participating teachers defended the importance of completing homework, arguing that homework can help students to develop their learning and to engage in school life. Furthermore, participants also agreed on the importance of delivering this message to students. Nevertheless, all teachers acknowledged that assigning homework daily present a challenge to their teaching routine because of the heavy workload faced daily (e.g., large numbers of students per class, too many classes to teach, teaching classes from different grade levels which means preparing different lessons, administrative workload).

Teachers at both school levels talked spontaneously about the nature of the tasks they usually assign, and the majority reported selecting homework tasks from a textbook. However, participants also referred to creating exercises fit to particular learning goals. Data collected from the homework assigned corroborated this information. Most of participating teachers reported that they had not received any guidance from their school board regarding homework.

How do Elementary and Middle School Teachers Perceive Quality Homework?

Three main themes were identified by elementary school teachers (i.e., instructional purposes, degree of individualization/adaptivity, and length of homework) and two were identified by middle school teachers (i.e., instructional purposes, and degree of individualization/adaptivity). Figure 1 depicts the themes and sub-themes reported by teachers in the focus groups.

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Characteristics of quality homework reported by mathematics teachers by school level.

In all focus group discussions, all teachers from elementary and middle school mentioned “instructional purposes” as the main characteristic of quality homework. When asked to further explain the importance of this characteristic, teachers at both school levels in all focus group talked about the need for “practicing or reviewing” the content delivered in class to strengthen students’ knowledge. A teacher illustrated this idea clearly: “it is not worth teaching new content when students do not master the material previously covered” (P1 FG3). This idea was supported by participants in all focus groups; “at home they [students] have to work on the same content as those taught in class” (P1 FG7), “students have to revisit exercises and practice” (P2 FG9), “train over and over again” (P6 FG1), “practice, practice, practice” (P4 FG2).

While discussing the benefits of designing homework with the purpose of practicing the content learned, teachers at both school levels agreed on the fact that homework may be a useful tool for students to diagnose their own learning achievements while working independently. Teachers were empathetic with their peers when discussing the instrumentality of homework as a “thermometer” for students to assess their own progress. This idea was discussed in similar ways in all focus group, as the following quotation illustrates:

P2 FG1: Homework should be a bridge between class and home… students are expected to work independently, learn about their difficulties when doing homework, and check whether they understood the content.

When asked to outline other characteristics of quality homework, several elementary school teachers in all focus group mentioned that quality homework should also promote “student development” as an instructional purpose. These participants explained that homework is an instructional tool that should be designed to “foster students’ autonomy” (P9 FG4), “develop study habits and routines” (P1 FG8), and “promote organization skills and study methods” (P6 FG7). These thoughts were unanimous among participants in all focus groups. While some teachers introduced real-life examples to illustrate the ideas posited by their colleagues, others nodded their heads in agreement.

In addition, some elementary school teachers observed that homework tasks requiring transference of knowledge could help develop students’ complex thinking, a highly valued topic in the current mathematics curriculum worldwide. Teachers discussed this topic enthusiastically in two opposite directions: while some teachers defended this purpose as a characteristic of quality homework, others disagreed, as the following conversation excerpt illustrates:

P7 FG5: For me good homework would be a real challenge, like a problem-solving scenario that stimulates learning transference and develops mathematical reasoning … mathematical insight. It’s hard because it forces them [students] to think in more complex ways; still, I believe this is the type of homework with the most potential gains for them.

P3 FG5: That’s a good point, but they [students] give up easily. They just don’t do their homework. This type of homework implies competencies that the majority of students do not master…

P1 FG5: Not to mention that this type of homework takes up a lot of teaching time… explaining, checking…, and we simply don’t have time for this.

Globally, participants agreed on the potential of assigning homework with the purpose of instigating students to transfer learning to new tasks. However, participants also discussed the limitations faced daily in their teaching (e.g., number of students per class, students’ lack of prior knowledge) and concluded that homework with this purpose hinders the successful development of their lesson plans. This perspective may help explain why many participants did not perceive this purpose as a significant characteristic of quality homework. Further commenting on the characteristics of quality homework, the majority of participants at both school levels agreed that quality homework should be tailored to meet students’ learning needs. The importance of individualized homework was intensely discussed in all focus groups, and several participants suggested the need for designing homework targeted at a particular student or groups of students with common education needs. The following statements exemplifies participants’ opinions:

P3 FG3: Ideally, homework should be targeted at each student individually. For André a simple exercise, for Ana a more challenging exercise … in an ideal world homework should be tailored to students’ needs.

P6 FG6: Given the diversity of students in our classes, we may find a rainbow of levels of prior knowledge… quality homework should be as varied as our students’ needs.

As discussed in the focus groups, to foster the engagement of high-achievers in homework completion, homework tasks should be challenging enough (as reported previously by P3 FG3). However, participants at both school levels observed that their heavy daily workload prevents them from assigning individualized homework:

P1 FG1: I know it’s important to assign differentiated homework tasks, and I believe in it… but this option faces real-life barriers, such as the number of classes we have to teach, each with thirty students, tons of bureaucratic stuff we have to deal with… All this raises real-life questions, real impediments… how can we design homework tasks for individual students?

Considering this challenge, teachers from both school levels suggested that quality homework should comprise exercises with increasing levels of difficulty. This strategy would respond to the heterogeneity of students’ learning needs without assigning individualized homework tasks to each student.

While discussing individualized homework, elementary school teachers added that assignments should be designed bearing in mind students’ availability (e.g., school timetable, extracurricular activities, and exam dates). Participants noted that teachers should learn the amount of workload their students have, and should be aware about the importance of students’ well-being.

P4 FG1: If students have large amounts of homework, this could be very uncomfortable and even frustrating… They have to do homework of other subjects and add time to extracurricular activities… responding to all demands can be very stressful.

P4 FG2: I think that we have to learn about the learning context of our students, namely their limitations to complete homework in the time they have available. We all have good intentions and want them to progress, but if students do not have enough time to do their homework, this won’t work. So, quality homework would be, for example, when students have exams and the teacher gives them little or no homework at all.

The discussion about the length of homework found consensus among the elementary school teachers in all focus group in that quality homework should be “brief”. During the discussions, elementary school teachers further explained that assigning long tasks is not beneficial because “they [students] end up demotivated” (P3 FG4). Besides, “completing long homework assignments takes hours!” (P5 FG4).

How do Elementary and Middle School Teachers Describe the Homework Tasks They Typically Assign to Students?

When discussing the characteristics of the homework tasks usually assigned to their students four main themes were identified by elementary school teachers (i.e., instructional purposes, degree of individualization/adaptivity, frequency and completion deadlines), and two main themes were raised by middle school (i.e., instructional purposes, and degree of individualization/adaptivity). Figure 2 gives a general overview of the findings. Data gathered from photos added themes to findings as follows: one (i.e., length) to elementary school and two (i.e., length and completion deadlines) to middle school (see Figure 3 ).

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Characteristics of the homework tasks usually assigned as reported by mathematics teachers.

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Characteristics of the homework tasks assigned by mathematics teachers.

While describing the characteristics of the homework tasks usually assigned, teachers frequently felt the need to compare the quality homework characteristics previously discussed with those practices. In fact, at this stage, teachers’ discourse was often focused on the analysis of the similarities and potential discrepancies found.

The majority of teachers at both school levels in all focus group reported that they assign homework with the purpose of practicing and reviewing the materials covered earlier. Participants at both school levels highlighted the need to practice the contents covered because by the end of 6th- and 9th-grade students have to sit for a national exam for which they have to be trained. This educational context may interfere with the underlying homework purposes teachers have, as this quotation illustrates:

P3 FG3: When teaching mathematics, we set several goals, but our main focus is always the final exam they [students] have to take. I like students who think for themselves, who push themselves out of their comfort zone. However, I’m aware that they have to score high on national exams, otherwise… so, I assign homework to practice the contents covered.

Beyond assigning homework with the purpose of practicing and reviewing, middle school teachers also mentioned assigning homework with the purpose of diagnosing skills and personal development (see Figure 2 ). Many teachers reported that they use homework as a tool to diagnose students’ skills. However, several recognized that they had previously defended the importance of homework to help students to evaluate their own learning (see Figure 1 ). When discussing the latter point, participants observed the need to find out about whether students had understood the content taught in class, and to decide which changes to teaching style, homework assigned, or both may be necessary.

Participant teachers at middle school in all focus groups profusely discussed the purpose of personal development when assigning homework. In fact, not many teachers at this school level mentioned this purpose as a characteristic of quality homework (it was a variant category, so it was not reported), yet it was referred to as a cornerstone in their homework practice. Reflecting on this discrepancy, middle school teachers explained in a displeased tone that their students were expected to have developed study habits and manage their school work with autonomy and responsibility. However, this “educational scenario is rare, so I feel the need to assign homework with this aim [personal development]” (P4 FG9).

Moving further in the discussion, the majority of teachers at both school levels reported to assign whole-class homework (homework designed for the whole class with no focus on special cases). “Individualized homework requires a great amount of time to be monitored” (P1 FG6), explained several participants while recalling earlier comments. Teachers justified their position referring to the impediments already mentioned (e.g., large number of students per class, number of classes from different grade levels which means preparing different lessons). Besides, teachers discussed the challenge of coping with heterogeneous classes, as one participant noted: “the class is so diverse that it is difficult to select homework tasks to address the needs of every single student. I would like to do it…but we do not live in an ideal world” (P9 FG4).

Moreover, teachers at both school levels (see Figure 2 ) reported to assign homework according to the availability of students; still, only elementary school teachers had earlier referred to the importance of this characteristic in quality homework. When teachers were asked to elaborate on this idea, they defended the need to negotiate with students about specific homework characteristics, for example, the amount of homework and submission deadline. In some classes, matching students’ requests, teachers might assign a “weekly homework pack” (P7 FG10). This option provides students with the opportunity to complete homework according to their availability (e.g., choosing some days during the week or weekend). Teachers agreed that ‘negotiation’ fosters students’ engagement and homework compliance (e.g., “I do not agree that students do homework on weekends, but if they show their wish and actually they complete it, for me that’s okay”, P7 FG10). In addition, teachers expressed worry about their students’ often heavy workload. Many students stay in school from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm and then attend extracurricular activities (e.g., soccer training, private music lessons). These activities leave students very little free time to enjoy as they wish, as the following statement suggests:

P8 FG4: Today I talked to a group of 5th-graders which play soccer after school three times a week. They told me that sometimes they study between 10.00 and 11.00 p.m. I was astonished. How is this possible? It’s clearly too much for these kids.

Finally, elementary school teachers in all focus group referred frequency and completion deadlines as characteristics of the homework they usually assign. The majority of teachers informed that they assign homework in almost every class (i.e., teachers reported to exclude tests eves of other subjects), to be handed in the following class.

The photos of the homework assignments (see some examples in Supplementary Material ) submitted by the participating teachers served to triangulate data. The analysis showed that teachers’ discourses about the characteristics of homework assigned and the homework samples are congruent, and added information about the length of homework (elementary and middle schools) and the completion deadlines (middle school) (see Figure 3 ).

Discussion and Implications for Practice and Research

Homework research have reported teachers’ perspectives on their homework practices (e.g., Brock et al., 2007 ; Danielson et al., 2011 ; Kaur, 2011 ; Bang, 2012 ; Kukliansky et al., 2014 ), however, literature lacks research on the quality of homework. This study adds to the literature by examining the perspectives of teachers from two school levels regarding quality homework. Moreover, participants described the characteristics of the homework assignments they typically assign, which triggered the discussion about the match between the characteristics of quality homework and the tasks actually assigned. While discussing these key aspects of the homework process, the current study provides valuable information which may help deepen our understanding of the different contributions of homework to students’ learning. Furthermore, findings are expected to inform teachers and school administrators’ homework practices and, hopefully, improve the quality of students’ learning.

All teachers at both school levels valued homework as an important educational tool for their teaching practice. Consistent with the literature, participants indicated practicing or reviewing the material covered in class as the main purpose of both the homework typically assigned ( Danielson et al., 2011 ; Kaur, 2011 ) and quality homework. Despite the extended use of this homework purpose by teachers, a recent study conducted with mathematics teachers found that homework with the purpose of practicing the material covered in class did not impact significantly the academic achievement of 6th-grade students; however, homework designed with the purpose of solving problems did (extension homework) ( Rosário et al., 2015 ). Interestingly, in the current study only teachers from elementary school mentioned the homework purpose “extension” as being part of quality homework, but these teachers did not report to use it in practice (at least it was not a typical category) (see Figure 2 ). Extension homework was not referenced by middle school teachers either as quality homework or as a characteristic of homework assigned. Given that middle school students are expected to master complex math skills at this level (e.g., National Research Council and Mathematics Learning Study Committee, 2001 ), this finding may help school administrators and teachers reflect on the value and benefits of homework to students learning progress.

Moreover, teachers at both school levels stressed the use of homework as a tool to help students evaluate their own learning as a characteristic of quality homework; however, this purpose was not said to be a characteristic of the homework usually assigned. If teachers do not explicitly emphasize this homework purpose to their students, they may not perceive its importance and lose opportunities to evaluate and improve their work.

In addition, elementary school teachers identified personal development as a characteristic of quality homework. However, only middle school teachers reported assigning homework aiming to promote students’ personal development, and evaluate students’ learning (which does not imply that students evaluate their own learning). These findings are important because existing literature has highlighted the role played by homework in promoting students’ autonomy and learning throughout schooling ( Rosário et al., 2009 , 2011 ; Ramdass and Zimmerman, 2011 ; Núñez et al., 2015b ).

Globally, data show a disconnect between what teachers believe to be the characteristics of quality homework and the characteristics of the homework assigned, which should be further analyzed in depth. For example, teachers reported that middle school students lack the autonomy and responsibility expected for this school level, which translates to poor homework behaviors. In fact, contrary to what they would expect, middle school teachers reported the need to promote students’ personal development (i.e., responsibility and autonomy). This finding is consistent with the decrease of students’ engagement in academic activities found in middle school (e.g., Cleary and Chen, 2009 ; Wang and Eccles, 2012 ). This scenario may present a dilemma to middle school teachers regarding the purposes of homework. On one hand, students should have homework with more demanding purposes (e.g., extension); on another hand, students need to master work habits, responsibility and autonomy, otherwise homework may be counterproductive according to the participating teachers’ perspective.

Additionally, prior research has indicated that classes assigned challenging homework demonstrated high mathematics achievement ( Trautwein et al., 2002 ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ). Moreover, the study by Zakharov et al. (2014) found that Russian high school students from basic and advanced tracks benefited differently from two types of homework (i.e., basic short-answer questions, and open-ended questions with high level of complexity). Results showed that a high proportion of basic or complex homework exercises enhanced mathematics exam performance for students in the basic track; whereas only a high proportion of complex homework exercises enhanced mathematics exam performance for students in the advanced track. In fact, for these students, a low proportion of complex homework exercises was detrimental to their achievement. These findings, together with our own, may help explain why the relationship between homework and mathematics achievement in middle school is lower than in elementary school (see Fan et al., 2017 ). Our findings suggest the need for teachers to reflect upon the importance of assigning homework to promote students’ development in elementary school, and of assigning homework with challenging purposes as students advance in schooling to foster high academic outcomes. There is evidence that even students with poor prior knowledge need assignments with some degree of difficulty to promote their achievement (see Zakharov et al., 2014 ). It is important to note, however, the need to support the autonomy of students (e.g., providing different the types of assignments, opportunities for students to express negative feelings toward tasks, answer students’ questions) to minimize the threat that difficult homework exercises may pose to students’ sense of competence; otherwise an excessively high degree of difficulty can lead to students’ disengagement (see Patall et al., 2018 ). Moreover, teachers should consider students’ interests (e.g., which contents and types of homework tasks students like) and discuss homework purposes with their students to foster their understanding of the tasks assigned and, consequently, their engagement in homework ( Xu, 2010 , 2018 ; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012 ; Rosário et al., 2018 ).

We also found differences between teachers’ perspectives of quality homework and their reported homework practices concerning the degree of individualization when assigning homework. Contrary to the perspectives that quality homework stresses individual needs, teachers reported to assign homework to the whole class. In spite of the educational costs associated with assigning homework adjusted to specific students or groups of students (mentioned several times by participants), research has reported benefits for students when homework assignments match their educational needs (e.g., Cooper, 2001 ; Trautwein et al., 2006a ; Zakharov et al., 2014 ). The above-mentioned study by Zakharov et al. (2014) also shed light on this topic while supporting our participants’ suggestion to assign homework with increasing level of difficulty aiming to match the variety of students’ levels of knowledge (see also Dettmers et al., 2010 ). However, teachers did not mention this idea when discussing the characteristic of homework typically assigned. Thus, school administrators may wish to consider training teachers (e.g., using mentoring, see Núñez et al., 2013 ) to help them overcome some of the obstacles faced when designing and assigning homework targeting students’ individual characteristics and learning needs.

Another interesting finding is related to the sub-theme of homework adjusted to the availability of students. This was reported while discussing homework quality (elementary school) and characteristics of homework typically assigned (elementary and middle school). Moreover, some elementary and middle school teachers explained by email the reasons why they did not assign homework in some circumstances [e.g., eves of assessment tests of other subjects, extracurricular activities, short time between classes (last class of the day and next class in the following morning)]. These teachers’ behaviors show concern for students’ well-being, which may positively influence the relationship between students and teachers. As some participants mentioned, “students value this attitude” (P1 FG5). Thus, future research may explore how homework adjusted to the availability of students may contribute to encouraging positive behaviors, emotions and outcomes of students toward their homework.

Data gathered from the photos of the assigned homework tasks allowed a detailed analysis of the length and completion deadlines of homework. Long assignments did not match elementary school teachers’ perspectives of quality homework. However, a long homework was assigned once and aimed to help students practice the material covered for the mathematics assessment test. Here, practices diverged. Some teachers assigned this homework some weeks before and others assign it in last class before the test. For this reason, the “long term” completion deadline was not a typical category, hence not reported. Future research could consider studying the impact of this homework characteristic on students’ behaviors and academic performance.

Finally, our findings show that quality homework, according to teachers’ perspectives, requires attention to a combination of several characteristics of homework. Future studies may include measures to assess characteristics of homework other than “challenge” and “selection” already investigated ( Trautwein et al., 2006b ; Dettmers et al., 2010 ; Rosário et al., 2018 ); for example, homework adjusted to the availability of students.

Strengths and Limitations of the Study

The current study analyzed the teachers’ perspectives on the characteristics of quality homework and of the homework they typically assigned. Despite the incapability to generalize data, we believe that these findings provide important insights into the characteristics that may impact a homework assignment’s effectiveness, especially at middle school level. For example, our results showed a disconnect between teachers’ perspectives about the characteristics of quality homework and the characteristics of the homework they assign. This finding is relevant and emphasizes the need to reflect on the consistency between educational discourses and educational practices. Teachers and school administrators could consider finding opportunities to reflect on this disconnect, which may also occur in other educational practices (e.g., teacher feedback, types of questions asked in class). Present data indicate that middle school teachers reported to assign homework with the major purpose of practicing and reviewing the material, but they also aim to develop students’ responsibility and autonomy; still they neglect homework with the purpose of extension which is focused on encouraging students to display an autonomous role, solve problems and transfer the contents learned (see discussion section). Current findings also highlight the challenges and dilemmas teachers face when they assign homework, which is important to address in teachers’ training. In fact, assigning quality homework, that is, homework that works, is not an easy task for teachers and our findings provide empirical data to discuss and reflect upon its implications for research and educational practice. Although our findings cannot be generalized, still they are expected to provide important clues to enhance teachers’ homework practices in different contexts and educational settings, given that homework is among the most universal educational practices in the classroom, is a topic of public debate (e.g., some arguments against homework are related to the characteristics of the assignments, and to the malpractices in using this educational tool) and an active area of research in many countries ( Fan et al., 2017 ).

Moreover, these findings have identified some of the most common obstacles teachers struggle with; such data may be useful to school administrators when designing policies and to teacher training. The administrative obstacles (e.g., large number of students per class) reported by teachers may help understand some of the discrepancies found between teachers’ definition of quality homework and their actual homework practices (e.g., degree of individualization), and also identify which problems related to homework may require intervention. Furthermore, future research could further investigate this topic by interviewing teachers, videotaping classroom activities and discussing data in order to design new avenues of homework practices.

We share the perspective of Trautwein et al. (2006b) on the importance of mapping the characteristics of homework positively associated with students’ homework behaviors. Data from this study may inform future studies analyzing these relationships, promote adaptive homework behaviors and enhance learning.

Methodologically, this research followed rigorous procedures to increase the trustworthiness of findings, improving the validity of the study (e.g., Lincoln and Guba, 1985 ) that should be accounted for. Data from two data sources (i.e., focus groups and the homework assignments photographed) were consistent, and the member checking conducted in both phases allowed the opportunity to learn that the findings of the focus group seem to accurately reflect the overall teachers’ perspectives regarding quality homework and their homework practices.

Despite the promising contributions of this study to the body of research regarding homework practices, this specific research provides an incomplete perspective of the homework process as it has only addressed the perspectives of one of the agents involved. Future research may consider analyzing students’ perspectives about the same topic and contrast data with those of teachers. Findings are expected to help us identify the homework characteristics most highly valued by students and learn about whether they match those of teachers.

Furthermore, data from homework assignments (photos) were provided by 25% of the participating teachers and for a short period of time (i.e., three weeks in one school term). Future research may consider conducting small-scale studies by collecting data from various sources of information aiming at triangulating data (e.g., analyzing homework assignments given in class, interviewing students, conducting in-class observations) at different times of the school year. Researchers should also consider conducting similar studies in different subjects to compare data and inform teachers’ training.

Finally, our participants’ description does not include data regarding the teaching methodology followed by teachers in class. However, due to the potential interference of this variable in results, future research may consider collect and report data regarding school modality and the teaching methodology followed in class.

Homework is an instructional tool that has proved to enhance students’ learning ( Cooper et al., 2006 ; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2015 ; Valle et al., 2016 ; Fan et al., 2017 ; Rosário et al., 2018 ). Still, homework is a complex process and needs to be analyzed thoroughly. For instance, when planning and designing homework, teachers need to choose a set of homework characteristics (e.g., frequency, purposes, degree of individualization, see Cooper, 2001 ; Trautwein et al., 2006b ) considering students’ attributes (e.g., Cooper, 2001 ), which may pose a daily challenge even for experienced teachers as those of the current study. Regardless of grade level, quality homework results from the balance of a set of homework characteristics, several of which were addressed by our participants. As our data suggest, teachers need time and space to reflect on their practices and design homework tasks suited for their students. To improve the quality of homework design, school administrators may consider organizing teacher training addressing theoretical models of homework assignment and related research, discussing homework characteristics and their influence on students’ homework behaviors (e.g., amount of homework completed, homework effort), and academic achievement. We believe that this training would increase teachers’ knowledge and self-efficacy beliefs to develop homework practices best suited to their students’ needs, manage work obstacles and, hopefully, assign quality homework.

Ethics Statement

This study was reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of the University of Minho. All research participants provided written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Author Contributions

PR and TN substantially contributed to the conception and the design of the work. TN and JC were responsible for the literature search. JC, TN, AN, and TM were responsible for the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data for the work. PR was also in charge of technical guidance. JN made important intellectual contribution in manuscript revision. PR, JC, and TN wrote the manuscript with valuable inputs from the remaining authors. All authors agreed for all aspects of the work and approved the version to be published.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Fuensanta Monroy and Connor Holmes for the English editing of the manuscript.

Funding. This study was conducted at Psychology Research Centre, University of Minho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science through national funds and when applicable co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (UID/PSI/01662/2013). PR was supported by the research projects EDU2013-44062-P (MINECO) and EDU2017-82984-P (MEIC). TN was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship (SFRH/BD/80405/2011) from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00224/full#supplementary-material

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The Great British Homework Debate 2024 – Is It Necessary At Primary School?

Alexander athienitis.

The homework debate is never much out of the news. Should homework be banned? Is homework at primary school a waste of time? Do our children get too much homework?

Not long ago, UK-based US comedian Rob Delaney set the world alight with a tweet giving his own personal view of homework at primary school. We thought, as an organisation that provides maths homework support on a weekly basis, it was time to look at the facts around the homework debate in primary schools as well as, of course, reflecting the views of celebrities and those perhaps more qualified to offer an opinion!

Here’s how Rob Delaney kicked things off

Gary Lineker leant his support with the following soundbite:

And even Piers Morgan weighed in, with his usual balance of tact and sensitivity:

A very experienced and knowledgeable Headteacher, Simon Smith, who has a well-earned following on Twitter (for someone working in education, not hosting Match of the Day) also put his neck on the line and, some might think controversially, agreed with the golden-heeled Crisp King of Leicester…

Fortunately Katharine Birbalsingh, Conservative Party Conference keynote speaker and Founding Headteacher of the Michaela School, was on hand to provide the alternative view on the importance of homework. Her op-ed piece in the Sun gave plenty of reasons why homework should not be banned.

She was informative and firm in her article stating: “Homework is essential for a child’s education because revisiting the day’s learning is what helps to make it stick.”

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How much homework do UK primary school children get?

Sadly, there’s little data comparing how much homework primary school-aged children in the UK and across the globe complete on a weekly basis. A study of teenagers used by The Telegraph shows that American high-schoolers spend an average of 6.1 hours per week compared with 4.9 hours per week of homework each week for UK-based teens.

Up until 2012, the Department of Education recommended an hour of homework a week for primary school Key Stage 1 children (aged 4 to 7) and half an hour a day for primary school Key Stage 2 children (aged 7-11). Many primary schools still use this as a guideline.

Teachers, parents and children in many schools across the land have seen more changes of homework policy than numbers of terms in some school years.

A ‘no-homework’ policy pleases only a few; a grid of creative tasks crowd-sourced from the three teachers bothered to give their input infuriates many (parents, teachers and children alike). For some parents, no matter how much homework is set, it’s never enough; for others, even asking them to fill in their child’s reading record once a week can be a struggle due to a busy working life.

Homework is very different around the world

We’d suggest that Piers Morgan’s argument for homework in comparing the UK’s economic and social progress with China’s in recent years based on total weekly homework hours is somewhat misguided – we can’t put their emergence as the world’s (if not already, soon to be) leading superpower exclusively down to having their young people endure almost triple the number of hours spent completing homework as their Western counterparts.

Nonetheless, there’s certainly a finer balance to strike between the 14 hours a week suffered by Shanghainese school-attendees and none whatsoever. Certainly parents in the UK spend less time each week helping their children than parents in emerging economies such as India, Vietnam and Colombia (Source: Varkey Foundation Report).

Disadvantages of homework at primary school

Delaney, whose son attends a London state primary school, has made it plain that he thinks his kids get given too much homework and he’d rather have them following more active or creative pursuits: drawing or playing football. A father of four sons and a retired professional footballer Gary Linaker was quick to defend this but he also has the resources to send his children to top boarding schools which generally provide very structured homework or ‘prep’ routines.

As parents Rob and Gary are not alone. According to the 2018 Ofsted annual report on Parents Views  more than a third of parents do not think homework in primary school is helpful to their children. They cite the battles and arguments it causes not to mention the specific challenges it presents to families with SEND children many of whom report serious damage to health and self-esteem as a result of too much or inappropriate homework.

It’s a truism among teachers that some types of homework tells you very little about what the child can achieve and much more about a parent’s own approach to the work. How low does your heart sink when your child comes back with a D & T project to create Stonehenge and you realise it’s either an all-nighter with glue, cardboard and crayons for you, or an uncompleted homework project for your child!

Speaking with our teacher hats on, we can tell you that homework is often cited in academic studies looking at academic progress in primary school-aged children as showing minimal to no impact.

Back on Twitter, a fellow teacher was able to weigh-in with that point:

Benefits of homework at primary school

So what are the benefits of homework at primary school? According to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) (the key research organisations dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement) the impact of homework at primary is low, but it also doesn’t cost much.

They put it at a “+2 months” impact against a control of doing nothing. To put this into context, 1-to-1 tuition is generally seen as a +5 months impact but it’s usually considered to be expensive.

“There is some evidence that when homework is used as a short and focused intervention it can be effective in improving students’ attainment … overall the general benefits are likely to be modest if homework is more routinely set.”

Key to the benefit you’ll see from homework is that the task is appropriate and of good quality. The quantity of homework a pupil does is not so important. In this matter Katharine Birbalsingh is on the money. Short focused tasks which relate directly to what is being taught, and which are built upon in school, are likely to be more effective than regular daily homework.

In our view it’s about consolidation. So focusing on a few times tables that you find tricky or working through questions similar to what you’ve done in class that day or week often can be beneficial. 2 hours of worksheets on a Saturday when your child could be outside having fun and making friends probably isn’t. If you really want them to be doing maths, then do some outdoor maths with them instead of homework !

At Third Space Learning we believe it’s all about balance. Give the right sort of homework and the right amount at primary school and there will be improvements, but much of it comes down to parental engagement.

One of our favourite ways to practise maths at home without it become too onerous is by using educational games. Here are our favourite fun maths games , some brilliant KS2 maths games , KS1 maths games and KS3 maths games for all maths topics and then a set of 35 times tables games which are ideal for interspersing with your regular times tables practice. And best of all, most of them require no more equipment than a pen and paper or perhaps a pack of cards.

Homework and parents

One of the key benefits cited by EEF is in regard to parental engagement. Time after time, the greatest differentiator between children who make great progress at school – and those, frankly – who don’t is due to the same factor in the same studies: parental engagement .

It is a fair assumption that if a parent is engaged in their child’s learning, they’re probably going to be the same parents who encourage and support their child when they’re completing their homework.

Whereas parents who are disengaged with their child’s school and schooling – for whatever reason (sorry, Piers, it’s rarely due to laziness), are highly unlikely to be aware of what homework gets set each week, let alone to be mucking in with making sure it gets handed in completed and on time.

We also encounter time and again, the issue of parents’ own lack of confidence in maths. A survey by Pearson found that:

  • 30 percent of parents “don’t feel confident enough in their own maths skills to help their children with their primary school maths homework”
  • 53 per cent insisted they struggled to understand the new maths teaching methods used in modern classrooms. Fortunately that’s what we’re here to address.

Setting the right homework at primary school can be tricky

Although we disagree with Piers, we can see what he may be driving at in terms of setting appropriate homework.

The question quickly becomes what would Piers think of as being ‘interesting’ homework, and if all four of his children would agree upon the same thing being ‘interesting’.

That’s the problem.

One would imagine Piers would find it hard enough finding one task to satisfy the interest of all of his four children – it’s almost impossible to find a task that will engage the interest of 30 or more children in their out of school hours.

Each with different emotional, behavioural and learning needs, then sprinkle in the varying levels of poverty each family suffers (be it financial or in terms of time), and you can see how it isn’t just about being a good or bad teacher – whatever that means – in regards to being able to set Morgan-approved homework tasks.

What does this mean for my child?

Ultimately, the question at the top of mind whenever a parent thinks about homework is a more general one – am I doing the best for my child?

Although the world is changing at a faster pace than ever before in human history, what’s best for children hasn’t changed that much (if at all).

One-to-one support is best, and young people benefit most from adult-child conversations where they acquire new vocabulary and language structures to form and share their thoughts and opinions.

These insights – that one-to-one support is best and that regular, structured adult-child conversations are life-changing within a child’s development – are what inspired us to create Third Space Learning.

A platform where children can engage with a community of specialist tutors in a safe, structured learning environment where they are able to engage in one-to-one conversations that enable them to progress in their learning with confidence.

  • How to help your child with their maths homework – A parents guide
  • The Best Homework Hacks: 18 Tips And Tricks To Help Busy Parents Get It Done Faster!
  • The 20 Most Recommended Teaching Blogs for UK Teachers and School Leaders

Do you have students who need extra support in maths? Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to address learning gaps and boost progress. Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

Subsidised one to one maths tutoring from the UK’s most affordable DfE-approved one to one tutoring provider.

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The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions [FREE]

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions in primary and secondary schools.

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10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework-Essay

The term “Homework” has been a hotly debated topic for many years. In this blog, we cover the Homework Advantages and Disadvantages and you can use these articles as homework advantages and disadvantage essay

The Homework or assignment is the task given by the teacher to perform at home. The purpose of homework is to bridge the gap between school learning and Home learning of children. some people believe that homework has great advantages for academic success, while others argue that it has several disadvantages that can have a negative impact on student’s mental and physical health.

10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework

There are several pros and cons of homework. Today we cover the 10 Advantages and disadvantages of homework

10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework-Essay

10 Advantages of Homework

The 10 advantages of homework are-

  • Practice and mastery: Homework gives opportunity to the students to practice and Mastery the topics that they have learned in the classroom. In a class, it’s almost impossible to cover all the topics. Since the left-out topics are covered through the homework
  • Improved learning outcomes: It helps in the preparation for the examination. Research studies show that those students who perform homework obediently perform better on the examination and Test
  • Time management skills : It helps students to develop skills of time management, students have to complete their assignments or task along with the other responsibilities
  • Responsibility and accountability : Homework boosts the Student’s responsibility and accountability, they have to complete their task on time and best of their abilities.
  • Parental involvement: It gives the opportunity for parents to involve with their children and monitor their progress. It’s great for the parent’s and children’s relationship.
  • Preparation for college and universities :  Homework greatly helps students in their future preparation for college or university by teaching them how to manage their workload and prioritize their time
  • Reinforcement of learning : Homework reinforces the students learning of what they have learned in class, which can help to retain the knowledge for a longer period of time.
  • Self-discipline: It helps students to develop self-discipline skills, as students must complete their assignments on time obediently, even if he/she don’t like to do tasks
  • Opportunities for creativity: Assignments allow students to think creatively, they have to gather information from different sources to complete the task. It helps students to develop their creativity and critical thinking skills
  • Increased independence : It can help students become more independent learners, as they must take responsibility for their own learning outside of the classroom

10 Disadvantages of Homework

  • Excessive workload: Homework can be overwhelming, especially when small kids have multiple assignments due within a short period of time. It produces an excessive workload on children’s mind
  • Lack of free time: According to the new education policy teaching should be activity based. Homework can take a huge amount of student’s free time, leaving them with a very small amount of time to participate in other activities.
  • Negative impact on mental health: Too much workload can produce a negative impact on children’s minds leading to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Inequity: In a modern-day curriculum, Most of the studies are computer-based. students belong to the village area they do not have enough resources or internet connectivity. They cannot compete in assignment work with the students who are living in urban areas.
  • Reduced family time: Homework can take away from family  time, as students may need to spend evenings and weekends but they are busy completing assignments
  • Limited extracurricular opportunities: Homework can prevent students from participating in extracurricular activities, which can be important for their social and emotional development .
  • Cheating: Homework can lead to cheating, as students may be tempted to copy from others or to use online resources to complete assignments
  • Boredom: Some students may find homework assignments to be boring or repetitive, which can lead to a lack of engagement and motivation.
  • Inaccuracy: Homework may not always accurately measure a student’s understanding of the material, as students may simply be regurgitating information without truly understanding it.
  • Lack of flexibility: Homework assignments may not allow for flexibility, as students may have other commitments or responsibilities that prevent them from completing assignments on time.

In conclusion , homework has both advantages and disadvantages. While it can reinforce learning, develop time management skills, and promote independent learning, it can also increase stress levels, limit family time, and create inequality. It is important for teachers and parents to work together to find a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of homework, ensuring that students can learn and grow without sacrificing their mental and physical health

Homework: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pros and cons of having homework.

Pros: Reinforce learning, develop time management skills, and promote independent learning Cons: Increase stress levels, Impact Mental health, and excessive workload

Do students need homework?

Yes, Students need homework for reinforcement but excessive homework can be a negative impact. In my opinion, homework should be assigned according to the children’s age and interests.

Should homework be banned?

Homework has been a hotly debated topic for many years. It has both positive and Negative points.

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15 Surprising Benefits of Homework for Students

L K Monu Borkala

  • The importance of homework for students
  • 3 Helpful tips to do your homework effectively
  • 15 benefits of homework

Homework is an important component of the learning and growing process. It is a common practice for students to develop their skills and learn new information.

Homework is simply a general term that we use to describe work that you have to do at home. Typically, it’s assigned by the teacher during school hours and meant to be completed after school in the evenings or weekends.

Homework is loved and hated by many, but it is an integral part of education. It is not just a boring part of the learning process. It has a lot to offer!

The Importance of Homework for Students

So, why should students have homework? According to research conducted by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper , there was a positive relation between homework and student achievement. He found out that homework can help students perform better in school.

This shows the importance of homework in a student’s life. Homework is not always popular with students because it takes away their free time at home.

However, there are many benefits associated with homework.  Homework helps students understand the material in greater depth. Moreover, it allows teachers to assess how much the student has learned.

Tips for Doing Your Homework Faster

It is important to have a homework routine. A routine will help you know what to expect at the end of the day, and it will give you time to digest what you learned.

In addition, a routine will help you to be stress-free because you won’t be worrying about when to start your homework or whether you’re going to finish it on time.

So, here are some tips on how to set up a good homework routine:

  • Find a place in the house where you can study without interruption.
  • Set a timer for how long each assignment should take.
  • Make sure your table is neat and that you have all of your materials ready before starting.

These tips will surely make your student life easier and put you on the right track towards higher grades!

The Benefits of Homework for Students

There are numerous reasons why homework is given in schools and colleges. Students can reap the benefits even in their professional lives.

But what exactly are the benefits of homework and how can it help students? Let us take a look at some of them:

1. Students Learn the Importance of Time Management

Time Mangement

They will learn to balance play and work. Students will also learn to complete assignments within deadlines by learning to prioritize their time.

It helps them understand the importance of time management skills . When they are assigned a project or a test, they will know when it is due, how much time they have to complete it, and what they need to do.

This also helps them in their future careers. Employees must be able to manage their time efficiently in order to be successful.

If a project is due soon, employees should take effective steps to get it done on time. Homeworks in the schooling years teaches this practice of time management.

2. Promotes Self-Learning

Students get more time to review the content and this promotes self-learning . This is a big advantage of homework.

It also promotes continuous learning as students can revise their syllabus on their own. Homework gives them an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.

3. Helps Teachers Assess a Student’s Learning

Homeworks help teachers track how well the students are grasping the content . They can modify their teaching methods based on the responses they receive from their students.

4. Teaches Students to Be Responsible

Students learn to become independent learners as they do their homework without any help from the teacher.

Studying at home also motivates students to study harder in order to achieve better results. This encourages them to take up more responsibilities at home too.

5. Boosts Memory Retention

Homework provides practice time to recall concepts discussed in class, thereby enabling students to memorize facts and figures taught at school.

One of the advantages of homework is that it sharpens memory power and concentration.

6. Enables Parents to Track a Student’s Performance

Parents can assess how well their children are doing with regard to academic performance by checking their homework assignments.

This gives parents a chance to discuss with teachers about improving their child’s performance at school .

7. Allows Students to Revise Content

Girl Revising

Revising together with other students can also help with understanding  information because it gives you another perspective, as well as an opportunity to ask questions and engage with others.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

Doing homework has numerous benefits for students. One of them is that it helps students learn the concepts in depth.

Homework teaches them how to apply the concepts to solve a problem. It gives them experience on how to solve problems using different techniques.

9. Develops Persistence

When students do their homework, they have to work hard to find all the possible solutions to a problem.

They have to try out different methods until they reach a solution that works. This teaches them perseverance and helps them develop their determination and grit to keep working hard.

10. Helps Them to Learn New Skills

Homework is important because it helps students to learn new and advanced skills. It promotes self-study, research and time management skills within students.

It also builds their confidence in tackling problems independently without constant help from teachers and parents.

11. Helps in Building a Positive Attitude Towards Learning

Be positive

12. Students Can Explore Their Areas of Interest

Homework helps in building curiosity about a subject that excites them. Homework gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a subject matter.

When they become curious, they themselves take the initiative to learn more about it.

13. Encourages In-Depth Understanding of The Concepts

Homeworks allow students to learn the subject in a more detailed manner. It gives students the chance to recall and go over the content.

This will lead to better understanding and they will be able to remember the information for a long time.

14. Minimizes Screen Time:

Homework is not only a great way to get students to do their work themselves, but it can also encourage them to reduce screen time.

Homework gives students a good reason to stay off their computers and phones. Homework promotes the productive use of time .

15. Helps Develop Good Study Habits

girl studying with laptop in hand

The more they do their homework, the better they will get it. They will learn to manage their time in a more effective way and be able to do their work at a faster rate.

Moreover, they will be able to develop a good work ethic, which will help them in their future careers.

We all know that too much of anything can be bad. Homework is no different. If the workload of the students is too much, then it can lead to unnecessary stress .

Therefore, it is necessary for teachers to be mindful of the workload of students. That way, students will be able to enjoy their free time and actually enjoy doing homework instead of seeing it as a burden.

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  1. The Pros and Cons of Homework

    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.

  2. The Pros and Cons: Should Students Have Homework?

    School Life Balance, Tips for Online Students 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.

  3. 20 Pros and Cons of Homework

    4. Homework creates a communication network. Teachers rarely see into the family lives of their students. Parents rarely see the classroom lives of their children. Homework is a bridge that opens lines of communication between the school, the teacher, and the parent.

  4. Is homework a necessary evil?

    Feature Is homework a necessary evil? After decades of debate, researchers are still sorting out the truth about homework's pros and cons. One point they can agree on: Quality assignments matter. By Kirsten Weir March 2016, Vol 47, No. 3 Print version: page 36 8 min read Schools and Classrooms 845 Cite This Article Weir, K. (2016, March 1).

  5. Homework Pros and Cons

    Pro 1 Homework improves student achievement. Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

  6. Why Homework is Bad: Stress and Consequences

    Health News Is Too Much Homework Bad for Kids' Health? Research shows that some students regularly receive higher amounts of homework than experts recommend, which may cause stress and negative...

  7. 27 Top Homework Pros and Cons (2024)

    Contents show Pros and Cons of Homework (Table Summary) 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.

  8. Is Homework Important? What are its Advantages & Disadvantages

    Students with limited access to resources, such as computers or quiet study spaces, may struggle to complete assignments on an equal footing with their peers. 3.Loss of Interest and Creativity: For some students, homework can become monotonous and repetitive, stifling their enthusiasm for learning.

  9. Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

    A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study. By Clifton B. Parker

  10. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    Too much homework may diminish its effectiveness. While research on the optimum amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, there are indications that for high school students, 1½ to 2½ hours per night is optimum. Middle school students appear to benefit from smaller amounts (less than 1 hour per night).

  11. Homework Advantages and Disadvantages

    Disadvantage 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.

  12. 47 Pros And Cons of Homework

    This has always been contentious, whereby students and parents may argue that homework is low value, unfair, stressful or time-consuming whereby it takes away from other worthy pursuits such as hobbies, play and extracurricular activities. The following are possible pros and cons of homework. Pros

  13. PDF Does Homework Really Improve Achievement? Kevin C. Costley, Ph.D ...

    homework has about as many values as compulsory homework; and e) the benefits of assigned homework are too small to counterbalance the disadvantages (Goldstein, 1960). Students in elementary school who receive homework perform no differently than those who do not. In-school supervised study had a greater impact on achievement than homework,

  14. The Pro's and Con's of Assigning Homework

    Families must learn time management to accommodate the homework needs as well. Number 5: It creates communication networks. ... In light of this argument, I would like to share the CONS or disadvantages of assigning homework. Again teachers might not approve of the facts, but the key to success is to find the equilibrium point the sweet spot to ...

  15. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    The National PTA and the National Education Association support the " 10-minute homework guideline "—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students' needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

  16. 10 Disadvantages of Homework and their Impact on Students

    Independent Learning Homework encourages independent learning and self-discipline. It allows students to take responsibility for their education and develop important skills such as time management and organizational skills. Preparation for Assessments

  17. The pros and cons of homework for English language learners

    Why students should have homework. Homework can provide an opportunity for English learners to practise and consolidate what they have learned in class. This can help them improve their understanding and memory of the material. If you are confident that your learners have understood the materials, it can be useful to give them extra independent ...

  18. 18 Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework Should Be Banned

    1. Homework creates a longer day for students than what parents work. There are times when parents need to bring work home with them after a long day of productivity, but this time is usually part of a compensation package. Students do not receive the same luxury.

  19. "Homework Should Be…but We Do Not Live in an Ideal World": Mathematics

    Research Background on Homework Characteristics. Homework is a complex educational process involving a diverse set of variables that each may influence students' academic outcomes (e.g., Corno, 2000; Trautwein and Köller, 2003; Cooper et al., 2006; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012). Cooper (1989, 2001) presented a model outlining the factors that may potentially influence the effect of ...

  20. Advantages and Disadvantages of Homework

    following district/school rules Illustrating an intensive school curriculum to others A class or student punishment Perspectives on Homework When it comes to homework, teachers frequently need clarification. They see kids' bad behaviour and unfavourable attitudes despite acknowledging the benefits.

  21. The Great Homework Debate In Primary Schools 2024

    A study of teenagers used by The Telegraph shows that American high-schoolers spend an average of 6.1 hours per week compared with 4.9 hours per week of homework each week for UK-based teens. Up until 2012, the Department of Education recommended an hour of homework a week for primary school Key Stage 1 children (aged 4 to 7) and half an hour a ...

  22. 10 Advantages And Disadvantages Of Homework-Essay

    Negative impact on mental health: Too much workload can produce a negative impact on children's minds leading to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues Inequity: In a modern-day curriculum, Most of the studies are computer-based. students belong to the village area they do not have enough resources or internet connectivity.

  23. 15 Amazing Benefits of Homework: An Essential Guide

    Share Summary: The importance of homework for students 3 Helpful tips to do your homework effectively 15 benefits of homework Homework is an important component of the learning and growing process. It is a common practice for students to develop their skills and learn new information.

  24. PDF CSE 490/590 Computer Architecture Spring 2024 Homework 3 (not graded)

    CSE 490/590 Computer Architecture Spring 2024 Homework 3 (not graded) a. Compute the actual CPI b. Consider the datapath was improved so that the CPI can be reduced from 2 to 1.5 (all the other specs remain the same). Compute the actual CPI and compare it with (a) 7. Consider a direct-mapped cache of 128 blocks and each block can hold 16 words.