K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Research on homework shows that it is not the valuable educational tool that many believe. Kralovec and Buell (2001) found that “homework often disrupts family life, interferes with what parents want to teach their children, and punishes students in poverty for being poor.” In addition, homework has serious limitations for teaching and learning.

For elementary students, homework does not improve academic achievement (Cooper, 1994). Supporters of homework claim that homework in the elementary grades can develop character traits like self-discipline and time management skills. However, this view lacks solid evidence.

Based on this information, the following suggestions should be kept in mind when considering homework assignments and policies:

  • Be mindful of the amount of homework assigned. Homework types and amounts must be modified consistent with individual student needs, even within regular education. Remember that what is ten minutes work for one student can easily be an hour’s work for another.
  • Homework should never be counted as a part of the content grade unless the teacher is certain that all the students in the class come from a similar level of environmental enrichment and parental support.
  • Provide a system for checking children’s materials and copying of assignments at the end of the school day, particularly for students who have difficulty in homework organization.
  • Assignments should have a clear purpose that is understood by students. If they have this understanding, students are more likely to complete assignments.
  • Except in rare cases, students should not be removed or restricted from extra-curricular activities, including recess, for failure to complete homework assignments.

References

Cooper, H. (1994). The battle over homework: An administrator’s guide to setting sound and effective policies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Kralovec, E. & Buell, J. (2001). "End homework now." Educational Leadership, 58 (7).