To Give Homework or Not?

Here at My Academy we are often asked by parents and carers about homework and why we don’t give homework as a regular practice? Our response to this would be based purely on the students specific learning needs. During a students carefully planned tutoring session, our aim is to enhance students learning and we believe that the time we spend with students already has beneficial results on their learning. As a practice we will only give students homework if requested. This is based on substantial research into the pros and cons of homework.

Homework as a long disputed issue

Homework has been a long disputed issue and more so in recent times. Much of the earlier opposition to homework came from progressive educators who looked at ways to steer education away from traditional methods of student learning such as practice and repetition. They had proposed that student learning through inquiry and experimentation was a more effective way of learning. Much of the debate now centres around the purpose and effectiveness of homework.

Research into homework

Australian researchers of education have reviewed and evaluated research evidence on homework and explored three main issues: does homework enhance student learning and achievement outcomes? Does homework help students to develop the skills of independent, self-directed learning? Does homework involve parents in the educational activities of their children in ways that are beneficial?

Homework benefits who?

The research was complex and many broad conclusions could be drawn from it. However, in terms of academic achievement, homework was found to have no benefit for children in the early years of primary school, negligible benefits for children in the later years of primary school, weak benefits for junior high school students and reasonable benefits for senior high school students.

 Demands of homework

The research had also demonstrated that lower student achievement was mostly associated with more time spent on homework. Furthermore, complementary research showed that in countries with high homework demands, student performance on international tests of achievement was poor. The research also concluded that development of self-directed learning skills associated with doing homework mainly occurred when parents were efficiently able to assist upper primary and junior secondary school students with their homework.

 Less or more homework?

Overall, the findings emphasised that there should be less homework, especially homework that emphasises on drill and practice. Furthermore, homework is beneficial when it provides a link between community and school. Particularly when it is planned around the community’s and family’s knowledge which effectively may be different from the curriculum.  In other words, homework if given, should be something that parents and children can work on together as a shared activity.

In essence, homework can help children but perhaps not in the ways we think. And much of it depends on what you want homework to achieve and how parents and teachers see it.

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