Take it home with you: Is Homework necessary moving forward?

  • With an abundance of data out there on homework, it’s hard to determine if homework is either helping or hurting students.
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Welcome readers,

Homework is understood as a daily activity that prepares a student for future challenges in a curriculum (i.e. tests, projects). However, some questions need to be answered and those are, how much value needs to be put on homework? And how much significance does homework have in terms of it improving a student’s comprehension and performance in the classroom? Aside from homework, there are a myriad of other ways a student’s performance is evaluated, it’s just that homework is something parents can see their child putting effort into when not in the classroom, that is until the report card arrives in the mail. Unless there’s a P.T.A meeting (a parent and teacher meeting), the parent will not get the totality of their child’s performance once they leave home, unless the child happens to be homeschooled. Moreover, some research suggests that homework can hinder achievement and in some cases students’ overall mental health. Additionally, back in the 30s and 40s homework was abolished but made a brief return in the 50s, which brought forth a desire to sharpen students’ math and science skills. It was defunct during the Vietnam War and revitalized with a stronger emphasis on a student’s projected performance in the 80s. With that said, homework is a sort of “balance sheet” that gives a teacher and parents a snapshot of the effort and progress a student provides to their schoolwork when not in the classroom. Furthermore, the purpose of homework is generally understood as an individual practice that students generally detest when class is over. However, homework is one method that teachers use as an indicator of the attentiveness and comprehension a student has of the subject matter. 

        The value homework has during a student’s academic career varies and its significance towards the overall student’s performance in some cases (like in college) begins to diminish. This can all be due to the program a college student is in and the professor’s syllabus, which sometimes from my experience had minuscule worth compared to the other factors that made up the grading criteria. Having said that, homework is good practice (Allen Iverson voice, We talkin’ ‘bout Practice?!) for the material covered in class, but some students might perceive homework to be frivolous to their final grade if they’re doing “good” or “excellent” in everything else on the syllabus. A Duke researcher named Harris Cooper conducted one of the most comprehensive studies on homework efficacy to date. Cooper reported, “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).” Achievement in the classroom isn’t solely dependent on homework and sometimes the two can be conflated. If one were to ask someone, let’s use a parent in this case “if homework is valuable for their child’s academic success”? A parent would most likely answer that homework is a valuable practice that they would like to see their child doing consistently and efficiently. It would be an aberration to parents if homework was removed from the syllabus. In other words, familiarity begets comfort and if homework were to be eliminated from a syllabus, then the other factors in the grading criteria will compensate for it and determine the student’s success or failure. As mentioned earlier, parents need to see firsthand the effort their child is putting into schoolwork and they might even protest that homework remains in their child’s studies.

It’s challenging to come up with a definitive answer on whether homework is helping or hurting students because there is a lot of juxtaposition that occurs with studies trying to answer how beneficial or unnecessary it is to students’ learning. The grading system gets more nuanced as students progress in school and homework in some cases depending on the course, can become optional, a way to self-check what was learned that day or week in class. In regards to this, this self-guided way of learning can go in conjunction with a psychological concept known as spacing effect, which suggests that it’s easier to learn material when it’s been worked over several times in short bursts rather than compiling everything learned from that day or week in long study sessions. Furthermore, shorter homework assignments can be more beneficial than heavy workloads, and with this sense of respite, the chances of completion rate can improve. 

In closing, the value and significance of homework in education are up for debate because they’ll be an amalgamation of perspectives that see homework as a customary duty a student should be doing daily, while others looking at the grand scheme of things might find it pointless and perceive it as not always leading students to an auspicious outcome if they are falling behind in other areas in the course. With respect to that, homework should not be seen as a pacifier to salvage inadequacies in a student’s performance in other aspects of the curriculum, but an activity that will create a work ethic and confidence so a student can overcome challenges as they progress through their academic career.

WORKS CITED

Horaczek, Stan. “Kids Are Onto Something: Homework Might Actually Be Bad.” Pocket, 24 Sept. 2021, getpocket.com/explore/item/kids-are-onto-something-homework-might-actually-be-bad?utm_source=pocket-newtab&fbclid=IwAR0wIVy5vphFaAgkNJV2asGkYMp9bNahmLEOyCHz0AGgKAF5z5dnqRc6gVg.

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