Since we were children, we have been told that we have to do our homework in order to get good grades.However, while it’s true that doing the assignments, teachers ask of us do help in cementing everything we’ve learned in the classroom, makes us better students, does it actually have an impact on our success in life?
How can homework affect success in life?
Unfortunately, there’s very little research on the effect that homework can have in a student’s future. But there are tons of studies out there that point out homework’s benefits and pitfalls in their academic life. The truth is that these assignments do have an important role to play during our school years.
According to several studies, homework gives students a chance to apply theoretical knowledge in practice, thus increasing their skills and ensuring that the new lessons are learned. It also has a positive effect on their grades, helps them prepare for the next lesson, and helps to break procrastination habits. Basically, homework is a critical part of the learning process.
Too much of a good thing
The problem comes when students are assigned too much homework, which can be counter-productive in all levels of study. There’s this thing called the “10-minute rule” which suggests the optimal amount of time a student can spend doing homework. According to Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, Ph.D., it is a commonly accepted practice in which teachers add 10 minutes of homework as students progress one grade. In other words, a fourth-grader would be assigned 40 minutes of homework a night, while a high school senior would be assigned about two hours.
Beyond that point, kids don’t absorb much useful information, Cooper says. In fact, too much homework can do more harm than good. Researchers have cited drawbacks, including boredom and burnout toward the academic material, less time for family and extracurricular activities, lack of sleep and increased stress.
A study co-authored by Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, pointed out the negative effects that too much homework can have on high school students. According to their research, too many take-home assignments were associated with: greater stress, reductions in health, and less time for family and extracurricular activities.
They also found that many students described their homework as “pointless” or “mindless,” something they had to do to keep their grades up. “This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points,” Pope said.
Quality over quantity
One thing that researchers agree on is that the work assigned to be done at home has to be beneficial for the student. “Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development,” wrote Pope.
One Advanced Placement biology teacher Pope worked with through Challenge Success experimented with cutting his homework assignments by a third, and then by half. “Test scores didn’t go down,” she says. “You can have a rigorous course and not have a crazy homework load.”
The problem is that teachers-in-training don’t get much instruction on homework while during their studies. Pope says that many of them feel pressured to assign their students homework because their parents expect it, and that when it doesn’t come, they feel as though the school might not be doing its job.
What can we do?
The best thing to do is, of course, change the entire way educators and institutions view take-home assignments. They should involve the parents and the communities, asking what’s the purpose of the homework and who does it serve. However, changing the entire culture of homework will take some time, despite the increasing awareness on the subject.
In the meantime, students could always reach out to someone, be it their parents, a tutor, so they can learn to balance their school work and extracurricular activities, manage their time effectively, and do everything they need to get done.
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