A new study on the value of homework in high school reveal some perhaps predictable results.
Contrary to much published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.
But the analysis found a positive association between student performance on standardized tests and the time they spent on homework.
The researchers draw a conclusion about what homework should look like going forward to help improve grades.
“We’re not trying to say that all homework is bad,” Maltese says. “It’s expected that students are going to do homework. This is more of an argument that it should be quality over quantity.
“So in math, rather than doing the same types of problems over and over again, maybe it should involve having students analyze new types of problems or data. In science, maybe the students should write concept summaries instead of just reading a chapter and answering the questions at the end.”
That sounds like a superior approach to the mechanical practice and busywork I remember homework being.
I’ve worked with an English teacher to pilot a model in our school where homework is optional. We say to students, “You can do this assignment as graded homework if you want to. Understand that if you choose not to do homework, you’re relying on projects, tests, and quizzes to earn you a passing grade.” The idea is to get them to think about their strengths, and to make a very adult decision about how they’re going to work.
What we’ve found so far is that students are actually turning in more work than they had previously. Taking away the pressure of constant, graded homework seems to make things easier. I think this aligns with previous findings in studies on homework, such as those by Harris Cooper, which address the concern that for some students the stress associated with homework, such as poor grades and fights with their parents, only has a negative impact on how that person views school.