NBCNews.com: Homework overload gets an ‘F’ from experts

9 08 2012

The importance and value of homework is something that I am very interested in learning more about, and I’ve experimented a bit in my own classroom with the quantity and types of assignments that I expect kids to do at home. Like most studies, my own findings are very inconclusive.

What doesn’t work: Homework for the sake of giving homework. If it’s just “busy work,” I’ve found that most kids won’t bother with it, and the value for those who do is pretty limited for a variety of reasons. Over the past couple years, I’ve basically limited my take-home assignments to the following four categories:

Stuff you don’t finish in class. Pretty simple and fair. If we work on something in class and you don’t finish it, you take it home and finish it.

Projects and writing assignments. Every once in a while, students are assigned an essay or a report. I give time in class to work on these, so I can monitor the process or editing and re-writing, but a good portion of the research and writing still needs to be done outside of class.

Studying for tests. This is a fact of life. Got a spelling quiz coming up? A vocabulary test on Friday? You’re going to want to look that over at home.

Independent reading. Every school I’ve worked at has had some sort of requirement for independent reading, typically using Accelerated Reader. In some cases, we’ve had time in class for the students to read… but not always. Regardless, kids need to be doing independent reading at home. I believe very strongly in that.

As you can see, even without piling on the extra assignments, my students usually have plenty to do at home. If they make use of the time I give them in class, it’s pretty limited… but still enough that they’re going to have to do some work outside of class a few times a week.

And even that may be considered way too much by some, or way too little by others. Based on this article and the age of my students, I’m probably falling somewhere around “just enough,” maybe leaning toward “too much.” It’s something to think about!

– dEV

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Homework overload gets an ‘F’ from experts
By Corey Binns
updated 7/27/2012 8:56:01 AM ET

It seems the smoke has barely cleared from those Fourth of July celebrations, but in many parts of the U.S., parents are trying to light fires under their kids in an effort to get them studying for the new school year.

Unfortunately, new research shows the amount of time kids clock in out of school may not pay off.

Kids who do more homework actually perform worse on standardized tests, according to research by Sydney University educational psychologist Richard Walker, author of the forthcoming book, Reforming Homework: Practices, Learning and Policies.

Homework only boosts student scores in the final three years of high school, says Walker, and only these older high school students should be doing a couple of hours of homework a night. Younger students only benefit from small assignments, if they’re getting help at home.

But that’s not the end of the homework hurdles.

High-achieving students who are swamped with homework can suffer from poor mental and physical health,says Stanford University professor Denise Pope.

In fact, findings consistently show that homework has very limited value in the elementary grades.

In response to this new research, many educators are acknowledging homework’s flaws (much to the delight of students, no doubt). Homework now only accounts for 10 percent of a student’s grade in the Los Angeles Unified School District. And other school districts state they expect high schoolers to spend only about 30 minutes of homework for each class.

Some schools are assigning even less.

Tera Maxwell’s three children — ages 2, 5, and 8 — don’t have any homework at the Montessori International Children’s House in Annapolis, Maryland.

“When you make homework mandatory, it becomes a chore, rather than a joyful activity,” she says.

Other organizations — such as the National PTA — go with a policy supported by Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, who advises giving students about 10 minutes of homework each night, per grade level starting in first grade. According to Cooper’s recommendation, a fifth grader would have about 50 minutes of homework per night.

While Cooper, author of The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, has found homework at every grade level does improve test scores, too much can be detrimental.

(Full Story)





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