Homework: Worth the Hassle?

Mercedes Hoyos

Homework: Dashing Hopes or Giving Rise to Them?

For decades, students have immersed themselves in the most wearisome of math worksheets, lab reports, and history projects. These take-home assignments often fall victim to nothing more than a simple eye-roll, and, occasionally, a hesitant grudge. However, a Stanford researcher has proved that their role is unlike that of any martyr — it is one that perpetrates detriment and havoc. Denise Pope's research studies challenge the “traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” and hint at the negative effects it may have (when in excess) on student well-being and behavioral engagement.
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The Purpose of Homework

In a short survey, which was administered to Coppell High School teachers, the reasons for which homework is assigned were determined to be:

  • Reinforcement of what has been learned in class
  • Preparation of students for a new investigation, text (novel), and so on
  • Integration of skills (e.g. reading, writing, and subject comprehension)
  • Development of work habits, such as self-discipline & time management
  • Improvement of thinking & memory
  • Encouragement of positive study skills & habits that will serve throughout one’s life
  • Giving rise to individualism
  • Immersion into subjects not otherwise specified in class
  • Being informative to parents (realize what is being taught)

Overall, it may allow students to not only advanced themselves in class, but in their general knowledge and recognition of their own passions.

Its Criticisms & Negative Repercussions

Although take-home assignments can sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates, they also hinder their learning, full engagement, and well-being. Denise Pope’s research studies have elaborated upon that, and found, that when in excess, homework induces: greater stress, detriments to one’s health, infiltration upon personal endeavors, and so on. It is possible that this “busy work,” by its very nature, "discourages learning and promotes extrinsic motivations” (Keller).
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Personal Accounts & Research Studies

Amy Joyce, an avid writer for The Washington Post, interviewed John Seelke — a father, as well as a professor for the University of Maryland’s College of Education. To him, there is a great overemphasis on take-home assignments, as evidenced by his two daughters’ late night wraths and fatigue. However, he does not agree with a ban; he believes that a mere reduction of it, as well as new coping strategies, would suffice. For example, younger students would need to learn to prioritize school over play, and those who are older must become more heavily reliant on effective study strategies (e.g. “spacing-out”). They would receive no more than 30 minutes and 2 hours, respectively.

This has also been encouraged by Harris M. Cooper of Duke University, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience. In consonance with his research, those who are privileged tend to believe that "homework is irksome," and should, therefore, be prohibited (Cooper). The parents of these individuals have the resources and capacity to substitute all academics after school hours. For immigrants, the impoverished, or those who work long hours, however, it has proven to be a great supplement. A reduction would be a great intermediary between these two contrasting ideas (or desires).

Solutions (10 Minutes Rule)

Simon and Turner, spokesmen for Weekend Edition Saturday, have advocated for Cooper's “10 Minutes Rule,” in which students will receive 10 minutes of homework per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade thereafter (e.g. 20 minutes when in second). It has proven to be effective with survey data and anecdotal evidence. Playing is the cornerstone for learning in younger children, hence, the lower quantities. Those who are older must begin to prepare for college (to a certain extent).

An alternative would be the individualization of assignments, that tap into students’ existing skills or interests (they will be more motivational).

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The Coppell School Board: Taking Action

The Coppell School Board should set forth new regulations, such as the individualization or reduction of take-home assignments. It would evade any detriment to mental health or sense of dissatisfaction within students, and, rather, foster a new sense of achievement within them (academic or not). Academic rigor will not be lessened by a reduction (as it would be with a ban); teachers must learn to organize their schedules to where all content may be covered in class, and the students will be held responsible for their own use of time.
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Works Cited

Wallace, Kelly. "Kids Have Three times Too Much Homework, Study Finds." CNN. Cable News Network, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 May 2017.

"Homework." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2016. Research in Context, Accessed 15 May 2017.

Joyce, Amy. "Too much homework? Some parents are just opting out." Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2016. Science in Context, Accessed 15 May 2017.

"Homework: A New User's Guide." Weekend Edition Saturday, 19 Sept. 2015. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 15 May 2017.

"Scottish Primary School Stops Setting Homework." BBC News. BBC, 07 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.

"Coppell High School Hosting Homecoming Parade on Monday." Coppell BubbleLife The Online Home for Coppell. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.

ISD, Coppell. "Coppell ISD (@Coppellisd)." Twitter. Twitter, 15 May 2017. Web. 15 May 2017.