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A World Without Homework

In recent years, researchers and teachers have been experimenting with a "no homework" policy in the classroom. Though it may sound dubious, some evidence suggests "no homework" might be a good idea.

Studies have shown that more homework in elementary and middle school does not translate into higher scores on standardized tests, leading skeptics to wonder if it accomplishes anything save for kindling negative attitudes toward the classroom material. Studies in high school have shown some correlation between homework and test scores but have not determined homework to be the cause of these improvements. And, while some educators believe homework encourages self-discipline, time-management, and endurance, these theories are difficult to quantify and evaluate leaving some to wonder if homework actually helps students at all.

Given this current controversy, a teacher should consider the pros and cons of homework before committing to doing one or the other.

Benefits

If homework does not help students improve their scores, at least before they enter high school, what other benefits are there?

  1. Parental involvement. Homework allows parents and other family members to be involved in student learning. Many parents want to know what their children are learning at school; homework prompts communication between families and teachers and gives parents opportunities to stay involved in their child's learning experience.
  2. Alternative learning environment. In addition, homework allows a student to learn and process information outside the classroom setting. They might be able to focus better or read aloud, or they may simply feel more involved in the curriculum without the distraction of other students.
  3. Reduction in screen time. Children spend between three and four hours in front of a screen before and after school each day, and homework can be one means by which students are required to do something besides focus on a screen.

Drawbacks

There may be some benefits to studying outside of school. The suspected drawbacks, however, may tip the scale against assigning homework to all students as a matter of practice.

  1. De-motivating. Students may be enthusiastic about learning a new subject, but what was a fun learning experience can become a negative one when homework is assigned. Struggling students might be overwhelmed by homework they can't complete alone, especially when there is no one qualified, willing or available to assist them. Highly successful students might lose their enjoyment of learning once forced to complete work outside of school hours.
  2. More time sitting. When students are required to finish a substantial amount of homework, their time to play and move around can decrease significantly. Children who do not have sufficient time to play have been shown to perform worse academically and miss out on important social development.
  3. Unconducive to student progress. Not all students return from school to a home that is conducive to homework. Some homes lack the resources, space and privacy students need to study, and this could impact their ability to complete the homework and progress in ways their teachers might expect.

Since current evidence concludes that homework has not been proven to be as beneficial as it is perceived, it really comes down to what experienced educators believe is best for everyone involved, both at home and at school.

Learn more about the TAMIU Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Educational Administration online program.


Sources:

Scholastic: Down With Homework!

Today: Some Elementary Schools Are Getting Rid of Homework

Vittana: 20 Pros and Cons of Homework

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