How Does Homework Help Students

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Parents can get too involved in homework—pressuring their child and confusing him or her by using different instructional techniques than the teacher.

My feeling is that homework policies should prescribe amounts of homework consistent with the research evidence, but they should also give individual schools and teachers some flexibility to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of their students and families. Harris Cooper is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, where he also directs the Program in Education, and author of The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (Corwin Press).

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

On the basis of these results and others, the authors suggest future research. For high school students, the positive line continues to climb until between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours of homework a night, after which returns diminish (Cooper, 1989; Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006).Common homework assignments may include required reading, a writing or typing project, mathematical exercises to be completed, information to be reviewed before a test, or other skills to be practiced. Generally speaking, homework does not improve academic performance among children and may improve academic skills among older students, especially lower-achieving students.Homework also creates stress for students and their parents and reduces the amount of time that students could spend outdoors, exercising, playing, working, sleeping, or in other activities.But opinions cannot tell us whether homework works; only research can.My colleagues and I analyzed dozens of homework studies conducted between 19 to examine whether homework is beneficial and what amount of homework is appropriate for our children (Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006).However, both within and across design types, there was generally consistent evidence for a positive influence of homework on achievement. Practice assignments do improve scores on class tests at all grade levels.Studies that reported simple homework-achievement correlations revealed evidence that a stronger correlation existed in grades 7–12 than in grades K–6 and when students, rather than parents, reported time on homework. A little amount of homework may help elementary school students build study habits.Parents who feel their children are overburdened with homework are pitted against educators pressed to improve achievement test scores.According to two recent polls, however, the majority of parents remain satisfied with educators’ homework practices.A survey conducted by Met Life in 2007 found that 87% of parents saw that helping their child with homework was an opportunity for them to talk and spend time together.More than three fourths (78%) did not think homework interfered with family time, and nearly as many (71%) thought that it was not a source of major stress. Pleasing a majority of parents regarding homework is about as good as they can hope for, even with a fair number of dissenters.

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