For other uses, see Homework (disambiguation).
Homework, or a homework assignment, is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the class. Common homework assignments may include a quantity or period of reading to be performed, writing or typing to be completed, math problems to be solved, material to be reviewed before a test, or other skills to be practiced.
The effect of homework is debated. Generally speaking, homework does not improve academic performance among children and may improve academic skills among older students. It also creates stress for students and their parents and reduces the amount of time that students could spend outdoors, exercising, playing sports, working, sleeping or in other activities.
The basic objectives of assigning homework to students are the same as schooling in general: to increase the knowledge and improve the abilities and skills of the students, to prepare them for upcoming (or complex or difficult) lessons, to extend what they know by having them apply it to new situations, or to integrate their abilities by applying different skills to a single task. Homework also provides an opportunity for parents to participate in their children's education. Homework is designed to reinforce what students have already learned.
Teachers have many purposes for assigning homework including:
- personal development,
- parent–child relations,
- parent–teacher communications,
- peer interactions,
- public relations, and
Homework research dates back to the early 1900s. However, no consensus exists on the general effectiveness on homework. Results of homework studies vary based on multiple factors, such as the age group of those studied and the measure of academic performance.
Among teenagers, students who spend somewhat more time on homework generally have higher grades, and somewhat higher test scores than students who spend less time on homework. Very high amounts of homework cause students' academic performance to worsen, even among older students. Students who are assigned homework in middle and high school score somewhat better on standardized tests, but the students who have 60 to 90 minutes of homework a day in middle school or more than 2 hours in high school score worse.
However, younger students who spend more time on homework generally have slightly worse, or the same academic performance than those who spend less time on homework. Homework does not improve academic achievements for grade school students.
Low-achieving students receive more benefit from doing homework than high-achieving students. However, schoolteachers commonly assign less homework to the students who need it most, and more homework to the students who are performing well.
The amount of homework given does not necessarily affect students' attitudes towards homework and various other aspects of school.
Epstein (1988) found a near-zero correlation between the amount of homework and parents' reports on how well their elementary school students behaved. Vazsonyi & Pickering (2003) studied 809 adolescents in American high schools, and found that, using the Normative Deviance Scale as a model for deviance, the correlation was r = .28 for Caucasian students, and r = .24 for African-American students. For all three of the correlations, higher values represent a higher correlation between time spent on homework and poor conduct.
Bempechat (2004) says that homework develops students' motivation and study skills. In a single study, parents and teachers of middle school students believed that homework improved students' study skills and personal responsibility skills. Their students were more likely to have negative perceptions about homework and were less likely to ascribe the development of such skills to homework.Leone & Richards (1989) found that students generally had negative emotions when completing homework and reduced engagement compared to other activities.
Health and daily life
Homework has been identified in numerous studies and articles as a dominant or significant source of stress and anxiety for students. Studies on the relation between homework and health are few compared to studies on academic performance.
Cheung & Leung-Ngai (1992) surveyed 1,983 students in Hong Kong, and found that homework led not only to added stress and anxiety, but also physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches. Students in the survey who were ridiculed or punished by parents and peers had a higher incidence of depression symptoms, with 2.2% of students reporting that they "always" had suicidal thoughts, and anxiety was exacerbated by punishments and criticism of students by teachers for both problems with homework as well as forgetting to hand in homework.
A 2007 study of American students by MetLife found that 89% of students felt stressed from homework, with 34% reporting that they "often" or "very often" felt stressed from homework. Stress was especially evident among high school students. Students that reported stress from homework were more likely to be deprived of sleep.
Homework can cause tension and conflict in the home as well as at school, and can reduce students' family and leisure time. In the Cheung & Leung-Ngai (1992) survey, failure to complete homework and low grades where homework was a contributing factor was correlated with greater conflict; some students have reported teachers and parents frequently criticizing their work. In the MetLife study, high school students reported spending more time completing homework than performing home tasks.Kohn (2006) argued that homework can create family conflict and reduce students' quality of life. The authors of Sallee & Rigler (2008), both high school English teachers, reported that their homework disrupted their students' extracurricular activities and responsibilities. However, Kiewra et al. (2009) found that parents were less likely to report homework as a distraction from their children's activities and responsibilities. Galloway, Conner & Pope (2013) recommended further empirical study relating to this aspect due to the difference between student and parent observations.
Galloway, Conner & Pope (2013) surveyed 4,317 high school students from ten high-performing schools, and found that students reported spending more than 3 hours on homework daily. 72% of the students reported stress from homework, and 82% reported physical symptoms. The students slept an average of 6 hours 48 minutes, lower than the recommendations prescribed by various health agencies.
A study done at the University of Michigan in 2007 concluded that the amount of homework given is increasing. In a sample taken of students between the ages of 6 and 9 years, it was shown that students spend more than 2 hours a week on homework, as opposed to 44 minutes in 1981.
Some educators argue that homework is beneficial to students, as it enhances learning, develops the skills taught in class, and lets educators verify that students comprehend their lessons. Proponents also argue that homework makes it more likely that students will develop and maintain proper study habits that they can use throughout their educational career.
Historically, homework was frowned upon in American culture. With few students interested in higher education, and due to the necessity to complete daily chores, homework was discouraged not only by parents, but also by school districts. In 1901, the California legislature passed an act that effectively abolished homework for those who attended kindergarten through the eighth grade. But, in the 1950s, with increasing pressure on the United States to stay ahead in the Cold War, homework made a resurgence, and children were encouraged to keep up with their Russian counterparts. By the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the consensus in American education was overwhelmingly in favor of issuing homework to students of all grade levels.
British students get more homework than many other countries in Europe. The weekly average for the subject is 5 hours. The main distinction for UK homework is the social gap, with middle-class teenagers getting a disproportionate amount of homework compared to Asia and Europe.
In 2012, a report by the OECD showed that Spanish children spend 6.4 hours a week on homework. This prompted the CEAPA, representing 12,000 parent associations to call for a homework strike.
Notes and references
Effectiveness of homework
- Cooper, Harris; Robinson, Jorgianne C.; Patall, Erika A. (2006). "Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003". Review of Educational Research. 76 (1): 1–62. doi:10.3102/00346543076001001.
- Epstein, Joyce L. (1988), "Homework practices, achievements, and behaviors of elementary school students", Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools
- Trautwein, Ulrich; Köller, Olaf (2003). "The Relationship Between Homework and Achievement—Still Much of a Mystery". Educational Psychology Review. 15 (2): 115–145. doi:10.1023/A:1023460414243.
- Vazsonyi, Alexander T.; Pickering, Lloyd E. (2003). "The Importance of Family and School Domains in Adolescent Deviance: African American and Caucasian Youth". Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 32 (2): 115–128. doi:10.1023/A:1021857801554.
Homework and non-academic effects
- Bauwens, Jeanne; Hourcade, Jack J. (1992). "School-Based Sources of Stress Among Elementary and Secondary At-Risk Students". The School Counselor. 40 (2): 97–102.
- Bempechat, Janine (2004). "The Motivational Benefits of Homework: A Social-Cognitive Perspective". Theory In Practice. 43 (3): 189–196. doi:10.1353/tip.2004.0029.
- Cheung, S. K.; Leung-Ngai, J. M. Y. (1992). "Impact of homework stress on children's physical and psychological well-being"(PDF). Journal of the Hong Kong Medical Association. 44 (3): 146–150.
- Conner, Jerusha; Pope, Denise; Galloway, Mollie (2009). "Success with Less Stress". Health and Learning. 67 (4): 54–58.
- Cooper, Robinsin & Patall (2006, pp. 46–48)
- Galloway, Mollie; Conner, Jerusha; Pope, Denise (2013). "Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools". The Journal of Experimental Education. 81 (4): 490–510. doi:10.1080/00220973.2012.745469.
- Hardy, Lawrence (2003). "Overburdened, Overwhelmed". American School Board Journal. 190: 18–23.
- Kiewra, Kenneth A; Kaufman, Douglas F.; Hart, Katie; Scoular, Jacqui; Brown, Marissa; Keller, Gwendolyn; Tyler, Becci (2009). "What Parents, Researchers, and the Popular Press Have to Say About Homework". scholarlypartnershipsedu. 4 (1): 93–109.
- Kouzma, Nadya M.; Kennedy, Gerard A. (2002). "Homework, stress, and mood disturbance in senior high school students"(PDF). Psychological Reports. 91 (1): 193–198. doi:10.2466/pr0.2002.91.1.193. PMID 12353781.
- Leone, Carla M.; Richards, H. (1989). "Classwork and homework in early adolescence: The ecology of achievement". Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 18 (6): 531–548. doi:10.1007/BF02139072. PMID 24272124.
- Markow, Dana; Kim, Amie; Liebman, Margot (2007), The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: The homework experience(PDF), Metropolitan Life Insurance Foundation
- Sallee, Buffy; Rigler, Neil (2008). "Doing Our Homework on Homework: How Does Homework Help?". The English Journal. 98 (2): 46–51.
- West, Charles K.; Wood, Edward S. (1970). "Academic Pressures on Public School Students". Educational Leadership. 3 (4): 585–589.
- Xu, Jianzhong; Yuan, Ruiping (2003). "Doing homework: Listening to students', parents', and teachers' voices in one urban middle school community". School Community Journal. 13 (2): 25–44.
- Ystgaard, M. (1997). "Life stress, social support and psychological distress in late adolescence". Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 32 (5): 277–283. doi:10.1007/BF00789040. PMID 9257518.
- Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much
- The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sarah Bennett & Nancy Kalish (2006) Discusses in detail assessments of studies on homework and the authors' own research and assessment of the homework situation in the United States. Has specific recommendations and sample letters to be used in negotiating a reduced homework load for your child.
- Closing the Book on Homework: Enhancing Public Education and Freeing Family Time by John Buell (2004)
- The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents by Harris Cooper (2007)
- The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn (2006)
- The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovec and John Buell (2000)
|Look up homework in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Homework.|
- ^Synthesis of research on homework. H Cooper - Educational leadership, 1989 - addison.pausd.org
- ^Needlmen, Robert. "Homework: The Rules of the Game".
- ^Epstein, Joyce L.; Voorhis, Frances L. Van (2001-09-01). "More Than Minutes: Teachers' Roles in Designing Homework". Educational Psychologist. 36 (3): 181–193. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3603_4. ISSN 0046-1520.
- ^Wallis, Claudia (August 29, 2006). "The Myth About Homework". Time Online.
- ^ abCoughlan, Sean (2016-09-28). "Is homework worth the hassle?". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
- ^Bauwens & Hourcade (1992), Conner & Denise (2009), Hardy (2003), Kouzma & Kennedy (2002), West & Wood (1970), Ystgaard (1997).
- ^Seligman, Katherine (1999-12-19). "Parents: Too much homework". Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
- ^ abGrohnke, Kennedy, and Jake Merritt. "Do Kids Need Homework?" ScholasticNews/ Weekly Reader Edition 5/6, vol. 85, no. 3, 2016, pp. 7.
- ^"History of Homework". The San Francisco Chronicle. 1999-12-20. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- ^Coughlan, Sean (11 December 2014). "UK families' 'long homework hours'". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
- ^Marsh, Sarah (2 November 2016). "Parents in the UK and abroad: do your children get set too much homework?". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
Most kids and their parents hate homework, or at best don’t see the point of it. Teachers are not that fond of homework either, but they are expected to assign it. I will not be reviewing the merits and disadvantages of extended learning—what homework is supposed to be—since this has been done for decades. Let’s assume, for the time being, homework is here to stay regardless of the fact that many children and parents believe it makes their lives miserable. Since homework assignments can activate negative emotions, let’s take a look at how to effectively use those feelings to get it done.
A homework assignment can be a stimulus for any number of emotions. Erroneously, many children, parents, teachers, and even psychological researchers believe that children should be interested in doing their homework or enjoy doing it. However, in most cases, that’s just not going to happen. This belief is rooted in the notion that only positive emotions such as interest, excitement, or enjoyment are what motivate us. Granted, positive emotions are motivating because that’s their purpose, just as it is with negative emotions or neutral ones. In fact, at the core of our motivational system is emotion. Through their creation of bodily feelings, core emotions motivate us by directing our attention and giving us information about what’s going on. Thoughts and images (cognitions) that arise at the same time, make more specific the information provided by emotion.
Yet how many kids have a motivational system that will trigger the emotion of excitement in response to a stimulus consisting of 2 pages of math problems? I predict the numbers will be low. Perhaps there are some children who learn for love: they are interested in doing their homework because they desire approval from a teacher, or because they want to please them. And how many parents consider their role of helping their child with 2 pages of math problems to be an interesting job or anticipate with excitement reminding their child to do it? Few, if any. Nevertheless, some researchers suggest that a parent should maintain positive emotions in the homework context to counter the child’s negative response, since children are supposed to enjoy homework as well. Essentially, they are suggesting a parent should fib, as well as negate what the child feels, since it is likely most parents are not so positive about homework and how their kids are feeling about it. Why would anyone want to teach a child that it’s okay to lie or dismiss how a child feels? Let’s consider an alternative strategy that may be more in alignment with human motivation; essentially, helping a child effectively use the motivation provided by his negative emotions to get his homework done.
Most often, what motivates a child to do his or her homework (or a parent to oversee it) are negative emotions. Negative emotions, like distress, fear, anger, disgust, and shame, will motivate a child to do something to avoid them, or urge a child to do something that will relieve their effects. This does not imply that a child should ever be threatened by a parent or teacher with a behavior that activates negative emotion. It’s punishment enough for a child who experiences negative emotion in response to pages of math problems, be it anger, disgust, fear, or the anticipation of shame. Parents who recognize how to help the child make use of negative emotion can provide their child a lifelong gift: understanding human motivation.
So here is my point: Essentially, all humans are motivated by a desire to turn on emotions that are positive or to turn off the negative ones. A child may not be interested in or excited about doing homework, regardless of your efficacy as a cheerleader. And you don’t have to offer rewards as incentives, which can lead a child to expect that he or she should only do something for an external reward. And they don’t really understand the concept of intrinsic rewards in 3rd grade. But they do understand the notion of relief. The reason to get homework done, from the perspective of negative emotions, is to feel better. Relief from an emotion that is negative does feel better and it represents a primary reason why humans take care of many tasks in their lives. There is also another important component to this process. That is, the child should have a choice about timing and be helped to maintain that commitment. She may prefer to seek immediate relief by getting the work done as soon as possible so that it is off her mind and she can play. Or she may prefer to specify a later time when it will be done and engage in other activities until that deadline appears. Either way, the focus is on being effective and efficient, doing one’s best work, and relieving the negative emotion either now or later. Like adults and their tasks, children develop such preferences and you may even want to help them experiment with each way, without imposing your own style of getting things done.
Unfortunately, instead, researchers emphasize that negative emotions, especially on the part of a parent, will undermine a child’s motivation.  Granted, I completely agree about the importance of a parent keeping their interactions with their children fun and loving around homework. However, fun and loving does not involve lying and pretending to be positive about homework when you’re not, including feigning how exciting and interesting it is. Besides, some amusing moments with a child can occur when together you can laugh about something evoking a negative emotion, such as disgust. Yuck! Homework is disgusting! As well it can make you feel angry, distressed, and afraid that you'll experience shame if it isn't done well. Thus, a positive fun and loving relationship between parent and child can happen around seeking relief from homework emotions that are negative, and learning at the same time how to effectively use the emotions that evolved to motivate us.
 Tomkins, S. Affect imagery consciousness (1962/2008), New York, NY: Springer.
 Pomerantz, E.; Wang, Q.; & Fei-Yin Ng, F. (2005), cited above.
 Hokoda, A., & Fincham, F. D. (1995). Origins of children’s helpless and mastery achievement patterns in the family. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 375–385.
 Pomerantz, E.; Wang, Q.; & Fei-Yin Ng, F. (2005), cited above.
(For information about my books, please visit my website, www.marylamia.com)