One of the most engaging debates in education relates to the issue of homework. Over the years, attitudes regarding the significance of homework have been varied. In the early part of the 20th century, homework was generally viewed as contributing towards the creation of independent minds. However, educators began to raise concerns over the possibility that homework interfered with other aspects of life and socialization, sparking a debate over the issue. Over the recent past, the debate on homework has grown more intense and popular. The primary focus of this debate has been a simple question: Does homework hinder or facilitate learning? While apparently simple from the outset, this question is deceptively complex. This article delves into the facts surrounding the homework debate by looking at the variables involved.
Is Homework Good or Bad?
In a 2015 article published in The Independent, Gerald K LeTendre, a Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University, delves into the issue of whether homework is helpful or damaging, cautioning educators to be careful not to assign too much homework to students. His assertions have come to be proven by research that shows approximately 70% of parents and students believe that homework is a cause of significant stress, with some parents indicating that educators were not making homework assignments relevant to their children.
One of the main reasons given for giving homework to students is that it can improve the retention of material learned in class. However, recent research on whether student performance is directly linked to the duration of homework study has shown that the longer the homework duration, the less positive its effect on student performance. The study also found that the impact of homework on students varies according to age categories, with no impact shown for elementary school students. However, at the high school level, the researchers found a small connection between homework and academic performance. However, the little connection disappears when the use of sophisticated statistical approaches is employed. The main takeaway from such studies is the fact that the link between homework and academic achievement is weak, particularly for young children. In other words, the main reason given for giving homework to students is not valid.
Some of the supposed positive effects of giving homework to students can be categorized as:
- Immediate learning and achievement benefits
- Long-term academic
- Familial and parental benefits
According to the proponents of homework, the immediate impact of homework is achieved by increasing the time spent by students on academic tasks. Along with this line of argument, the benefits of increased instructional time should be realized when those students take part in homework.
Proponents of homework also argue that in the long-term, the benefits of homework are not necessarily tied to academic performance, but rather the establishment of certain practices that enhance learning. In other words, homework should:
- Improve the attitude of students towards school and school-related activities
- Encourage student learning even during leisure time, and
- Improve study skills and habits
However, with recent research demonstrating that the link between homework and achievement, particularly for young children, is weak, there is need to take a second look at these arguments. In fact, young students who receive homework have been shown to perform no differently from those who do not receive homework. Instead, evidence shows supervised study within the school environment has more implications for academic performance compared homework.
The argument here is not to say that students ought not to receive homework, but that parents and educators ought not to expect homework study to alter academic performance significantly. Even for young children, homework still has some benefits in the sense that it enhances positive attitudes towards learning and school. Students get to learn from the beginning that learning is not restricted to the school environment.
Some Negative Effects of Too Much Homework
One area in which homework can negatively affect students relates to social life. Long hours engaged in homework can leave students unmotivated and overwhelmed. Navigating the thin line between frustrating the students and developing learning skills can be challenging. Spending too much on homework can affect the other areas of personal life, such as social and physical activity.
Too much homework has also been shown to affect the mental and physical health of students negatively. According to a recent study conducted by Stanford University, 56% of students reported homework to be a primary source of stress. In addition, homework that takes too much of the student’s time can result in sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and headaches. The good news for students is that there is a way to avoid all the stress associated with take-home assignments, which is to work with a reliable provider of academic writing assistance. Top writing agencies like Do My Homework For Me offer students the relief of getting their work done by professionals while still finding time for social and personal life.
An Issue of Quality VS Quantity
One way of looking at the issue of homework is by addressing the quality and quantity elements of the debate. Research shows that too much homework is harmful to the health of students, besides taking away from socialization time. Another way of approaching the issue could be that some educators lack the needed training on how to design valuable assignments and knowledge on the right amount of homework. The training of teachers must, therefore, focus on pedagogical approaches for designing assignments in ways that motivate learning without overwhelming students.
The Age Factor
The age of the child is another important factor in the homework debate. Research conducted by the Canadian Council on Learning found that younger students tend to have short learning spans, and have a hard time blocking out distractions. In other words, overloading a young student with too much homework can be counterproductive. According to the study, homework is more beneficial if it does not go beyond 20 minutes, particularly for elementary school children. Those in grades between 3 and 5 can handle homework of between 30 and 60 minutes each day.
To sum it all up, research evidence shows that homework has no benefits for elementary school children, and does not improve the levels of academic achievement. Parental assistance with homework is only helpful for students who have learned the concepts in the classroom, and who just need more time to complete the work. It is recommended that homework for elementary school children if any, ought to be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes. However, for high school students, homework has been shown to be connected to improved achievement. However, even here, the amount of time spent doing homework ought to be reasonable. Most importantly, each child has a unique learning style that must be considered in whatever learning strategy preferred by the educator.
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