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For other uses see; Homework (disambig)

File:Homework - vector maths.jpg

Mathematics homework

Homework, or homework assignment, refers to tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed mostly outside of class, and derives its name from the fact that most students do the majority of such work at home. Common homework assignments may include a quantity or period of reading to be performed, writing or typing to be completed, problems to be solved, a school project to be built (such as a diorama or display), or other skills to be practiced.

Main objectives and reasons for homework

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. However, opponents of homework cite homework as rote, or grind work, designed to take up children's time, without offering tangible benefit.[1] Homework may be designed to reinforce what students have already learned,[2] prepare them for upcoming (or complex or difficult) lessons, extend what they know by having them apply it to new situations, or to integrate their abilities by applying many different skills to a single task. Homework also provides an opportunity for parents to participate in their children's education.

Amount of homework required

A review of over 60 research studies showed that, within limits, there is a positive correlation between the amount of homework done and student achievement. The research synthesis also showed that too much homework could be extremely counterproductive, causing students to "burn out". The research supports the "10-minute rule", the commonly accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. For example, under this system, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework per night, while 5th graders would get 50 minutes' worth, 9th graders 90 minutes of homework, etc.[3]

Many schools exceed these recommendations or do not count assigned reading in the time limit.[4]

In the United Kingdom, recommendations on homework quantities were outlined by the then Department for Education in 1998. These ranged from 10 minutes daily reading for 5-year-olds, to up to 2.5 hours per day for the pupils in Year 11 aged 15 or 16.[5]

Homework strategies

Effective study skills can help to speed up the completion of homework, giving a student more free time.

In cases where the teacher assigns homework verbally or on the chalkboard, the student can avoid forgetting or misremembering the assignments by writing them down and keeping them well-organized in a notebook, planner, or agenda. It is also recommended that one develop a strategy that decreases the student's chances of forgetting completed homework at home.[6]

Students with a positive attitude toward homework, who enjoy it and work on it enthusiastically, generally complete their homework faster than if they view their homework negatively. Reluctance and resistance can make homework take longer. Minimizing distractions,[7] by studying in a quiet room and leaving the TV off, etc, make it easier to concentrate and get homework done faster, while doing a better job. Contrary to specialists' recommendations, there is no evidence that the radio, as opposed to the television, hinders performance. This may be because radios emit only audio and no video, so there is less distraction.[7]

One approach for minimizing the amount of homework a student has to do at home is for the student to complete as much of it as possible while still at school. Spare time between classes, during lunch, and especially during classes may be enough to get most or even all of the student's homework completed, depending on how much is assigned. This approach may have negative consequences, such as causing students to skip lunch or miss important information in other courses.[citation needed]

Homework resources

Internet homework resources

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Computers are often used to complete homework assignments.

There are many homework-related resources available on the World Wide Web.[8] There are web-sites dedicated to communicating about homework, for teachers to post assignments on-line for students, and to keep parents informed. Many schools host their own homework posting services on their websites. There are non-profit organizations on-line that help students with their homework for free. There are also tutorials on most school subjects, especially math, which students can use if they don't understand their homework assignments.

Many libraries provide on-line resources which present subjects specifically for students who are looking for something to write about. And there are archives of ready-made homework assignments, including handouts, which teachers can use to provide homework to their students. Many other websites are used for research, especially search engines, such as Google, and encyclopedias.

Apart from above given resources there are hundreds of websites who are providing homework help at nominal rates. Such websites claim to help students understand concepts.

Some parents choose to monitor their students' usage of the internet, as some of the sites may be found deceptive or inappropriate by academic institutions.[8] Also, Internet resources offer students a wealth of opportunity for plagiarism.[9]


With an enhanced emphasis on homework, parents and students are turning to customized solutions. Private institutions, such as Sylvan Learning Centers and Kaplan, help students through individually-tailored assignments. Other parents find help through their community where tutoring, study groups and other resources may be made available.[10] Many libraries provide tutors for helping students with their homework, both in-person and on-line. See Homework help service.

If it is necessary to hire a tutor to assist with a child's homework, parents should also speak to the child's teacher about the amount and the appropriateness of the homework load.

Parental homework strategies

Students generally benefit when their parents become involved in the homework process. However, too much parental involvement can prevent the positive effects of homework.[11]

Setting a regular time to do homework[11] and designating a specific place for doing homework helps keep the student well-focused on his or her studies. A flat surface, good lighting, school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, scissors, glue, eraser, ruler, etc.) and a dictionary are often essential.

Teachers need to know what their students understand and can do independently, therefore they often advise parents not to do the children's homework assignments for them, nor correct their children's homework assignments and have them copy the corrections. Grades, and the teachers' other feedback, need to apply to the student's performance, not to the parents' performance, nor to student-parent co-performance.

On the other hand it is also fairly common for teachers to give assignments far beyond what students can do independently and for teachers to expect parents to go over homework and have the student make corrections before it is turned in. Practices vary.

Independent learning is encouraged and improved by providing guidance (such as explaining how to look up information or find a word in a dictionary) rather than merely providing the answers to the child's homework-related questions.

Having one's child read out loud allows the parent to provide corrections and help the student learn how to read better.

When parents do "homework" of their own at the same time as their children, it sets a good example and helps to foster a good attitude toward learning.[8]

One key role for parents is to negotiate with teachers and schools should the homework burden be unmanageble or age-inappropriate for the students. This negotiation may take the form of speaking with the teacher individually, speaking to other school officials, or coordinating with other parents or with the PTA or school board to get the homework load for the entire class or school reduced.[12]

Teaching and homework effectiveness

Student learning improves when homework serves a clear purpose and is matched to both the skills of each individual student and to the current topics being taught in class. Feedback improves the effectiveness of homework, especially when given in a timely manner (within 24 hours). Effective feedback improves student learning by correcting misunderstanding, validating process, and highlighting errors in thinking. Embedded comments provide much better feedback than a mere grade at the top of the paper. Homework must be concentrated to be effective: mastering takes days or weeks of practice. Fifty-percent mastery may be achieved after 4 practice sessions, but it takes 28 practice sessions to achieve approximately the eighty-percent mastery level.[13]

Another way teachers can be more effective is by alerting parents to their students' homework, giving parents a chance to become familiar with the material and their child's progress. This also encourages parents to become involved in the homework process.[14] Messages tend to get lost in transit or even altered when using "pupil post" (passing verbal messages or written notes back and forth using the student as courier), and therefore direct communication is much more effective and prevents frustration all around. Methods available for directly reporting homework assignments (to both students and their parents) include the phone, email, and centralized web-pages.


There is research supporting the idea that homework is of little educational value, and that for young children (i.e., under 13) it may have a negative effect on learning.[15] [16]

History of homework

In the United States

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.[17]

In a study done at the University of Michigan in 2007, research concluded that the amount of homework given is increasing over time. In a sample taken of students between the ages of 6 and 9, it was shown that students spend more than two hours a week on homework, as opposed to 44 minutes in 1981.[18] Harris Cooper, nations top homework scholar, concluded after a comprehensive review that homework does not improve academic achievements for grade school students. Cooper analyzed dozens of students and found that kids who are assigned homework in middle and high school actually score "somewhat" better on standardized tests, but that kids who do 60 to 90 minutes of homework in middle school and more than 2 hours in high school actually score worse.[19]

See also

Further reading

  • 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)

Notes and references

  1. After years of teachers piling it on, there's a new movement to ... Abolish homework. URL accessed on 2007-12-09.
  2. Needlmen, Robert Homework: The Rules of the Game. The Dr. Spock Company. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  3. Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  4. See for example Toronto Student Trustees Ask School Board For Homework Overload Restrictions, Marta Cyperling - AHN News Writer, June 20, 2007.
  5. (1998). Homework cut for youngest pupils. BBC News website. BBC News. URL accessed on 2008-02-02.
  6. Fleming, Grace Top 5 Tips for Remembering Homework Assignments. About, Inc.. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tips For Helping Kids and Teens With Homework and Study Habits. Child Development Institute, LLC. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Clark, Pauline Online Homework Helpers. Information Today, Inc.. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  10. Rothschild, Barbara Emphasis on homework. Courier Post. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  11. 11.0 11.1 ([dead link]Scholar search)General Homework Tips For Parents, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans,, retrieved on 2007-03-25 
  12. Bennett, Sara; Kalish, Nancy (2006), The Case Against Homework: how homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it, New York: Crown Publishers, ISBN 0307340171 
  13. Focus on effectiveness: Research-based Strategies; Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  14. Wood, Chip Strategies to overcome the struggles and help all students succeed. Responsive Classroom. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  15. Kohn, Alfie (2006), The Homework Myth: why our kids get too much of a bad thing, Cambridg, MA.: Da Capo Press, ISBN 0738210854 
  16. Bennett, Sara; Kalish, Nancy (2006), The Case Against Homework: how homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it, New York: Crown Publishers, ISBN 0307340171 
  17. History of Homework. URL accessed on 2007-03-24.
  18. Seligman, Katherine Parents: Too much homework. Hearst Communications Inc.. URL accessed on 2007-03-25.
  19. Wallis, Claudia The Myth About Homework. Time Online.

External links

Parent resources
Learner resources
Teacher resources
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