Do Homework Assignments Help or Hinder Student Learning?

Young girl contemplates homeworkOver the past several years, there has been a growing debate about the effectiveness of assigning homework to students. Most adults and children are quite familiar with homework, and teachers and parents have historically viewed homework assignments as supportive of student learning. Based on my work with many families, however, there is valid concern whether homework assignments enhance learning for every student.

The Positives and Negatives of Assigning Homework

I am a former teacher turned family therapist. Middle school and high school students often tell me they feel overloaded with homework and have a high anxiety level because of it. Parents, for their part, often share that there is conflict between them and their children about getting homework done.

When I was teaching, I struggled with whether assigning homework to my students was beneficial to them. Over the 10 years I spent as an educator, I found there to be both positive and negative implications of assigning homework.

First, some potential positives:

  • It creates opportunities for students to interact with their parents.
  • It can promote student independence and self-discipline.
  • It can provide a connection between what is learned in school and the outside world.
  • It can provide opportunities for parents to be engaged with their child’s learning progress.
  • It can reinforce skills and concepts taught in class.

Now, some potential negatives:

  • It can promote arguments between parents and children, creating chaos in the family. Such conflicts often are at the core of the work I do with families.
  • It does not guarantee that student learning gains will be higher.
  • It can force students to choose between extracurricular activities and homework, as often there is insufficient time for both. Colleges and universities often seek students who have a high level of involvement in extracurricular activities.
  • Many homework assignments assume that students have access to technology outside of school, which isn’t always the case.
  • Students in middle school and high school tend to have several different classes a day. Teachers don’t always take into consideration that students may be receiving homework assignments for multiple or even all classes. As a result, many students end up loaded down with hours of homework, which may create an imbalance between academics and extracurricular and family activities. To try to fit everything in, students may feel compelled to stay up late and lose valuable sleep.

How Can We Find Balance?

Recognizing the potential pitfalls with assigning homework doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its place. During the years I spent teaching in the classroom, I found it to be crucial that any homework assigned be engaging and relevant to students’ lives.

Important questions to be asked when assigning homework include, “What are the expected outcomes of assigning homework?” and, “What is it about those assigned tasks that make doing them outside of school important?”

How Can We Tell If Homework Is Helping?

It can be difficult for parents to know whether homework assigned to their children will have a positive impact on their learning. Parents can determine the value of homework assignments by looking for the characteristics of meta-cognitive learning, student inquiry about what they are learning, and assignments that promote literacy.

I found that homework assignments that require meta-cognitive learning, such as meta-cognitive journals, can be especially relevant and useful for students. Teaching students to be meta-cognitive in their learning may be beneficial to their lives in all areas. When students implement meta-cognition, they are assessing their own thinking and learning.

Parents can determine the value of homework assignments by looking for the characteristics of meta-cognitive learning, student inquiry about what they are learning, and assignments that promote literacy.

For example, when students solve a mathematical problem, the cognition portion is solving the problem. The meta-cognitive part is awareness of the strategies used to solve the problem. Meta-cognitive learning can be defined simply as “thinking about thinking.” It is developing an awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses. It is evaluating, planning, and observing the process. When students use meta-cognitive learning, they become aware of the strategies used in their learning and can generalize those strategies into different contexts.

Another beneficial homework assignment is one that encourages students to question their learning. When students ask questions about what they are learning, they may become motivated researchers. Teaching students when and how to ask questions is vital to learning. While teaching, it was important to me that students left my classroom with a desire to learn more and were equipped with the skills to find credible information.

Finally, I cannot overstate the importance of students developing a love of reading. As an educator, I taught many struggling readers. I found that if students cannot read fluently or comprehend text at their grade level, all academic areas are typically affected. I believe students should be able to choose what they read at home. The more they want to read, the more they will read, and the better their literacy skills will become. Many of the struggling readers I worked with simply had not “practiced” reading enough to be reading at their grade level.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Levi

    Levi

    January 21st, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    I must be the only parent who sort of enjoys helping the kids with their homework. When I do that shows me what we need to be working on more at home and just gives me time to look at how my kids are delving into the learning process, what they enjoy and what they don’t. They will not always ask you for help- I have resolved to enjoy it while I can!

  • kendrie

    kendrie

    January 21st, 2016 at 11:06 AM

    It should be something that supplements the things that the teachers are doing in the classroom but there are times that I swear my girls look at the homework like they have never seen the work before in their lives.This should not be used a s a primary tool for teaching the material,m just to reinforce a lesson that has already been taught. I don’t think that it should ever be used as a way to introduce new material for the kids. That only confuses and frustrates them.

  • Kaya

    Kaya

    January 21st, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    busywork and it drives me crazy
    takes away a lot of the time that we could all be spending together as a family

  • Lindall

    Lindall

    January 22nd, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    A large part of it depends on how the teacher is using it and then what kind of home support there is for the student outside of the classroom. I think that if the teachers plan for it thoughtfully with a good purpose, and make it so that parents know exactly what it is trying to teach then I do not have a problem with it. But it should not be the morale bummer that many kids find it to be, when they feel like it is just more of the same old stuff that they will never understand. That brings them down in a terrible way.

  • Bart o

    Bart o

    January 23rd, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    This will sound pretty petty but my kids are involved in so many other activities outside of school that it can be difficult to add homework on top of all of their other commitments and responsibilities.

  • Shellee

    Shellee

    January 25th, 2016 at 7:07 AM

    I always felt that my children learned valuable life skills in their extra curricular activities and that those activities were as important to their development as school. When they had homework that appeared to be assigned simply for the sake of assigning homework, I always thought the teacher lacked the vision her/his students needed in their teachers. I agree that homework assignments that apply learned knowledge to the student’s life was most valuable, and I wonder why more teachers don’t create such assignments. My own math skills would have been greatly improved by assignments such as doubling or halving my favorite cookie recipe or figuring out how much carpet I would need to buy to redecorate my room. If homework is going to me assigned, it should enhance the student’s learning, not just take up time.

  • Janice

    Janice

    January 25th, 2016 at 8:09 AM

    Personally I think that it helps on a few fronts
    IT reinforces what they have been learning in class and also gives me the chance to see the level of work that they are doing in school. I think that if too much is not given then it can be a really good thing

  • will a

    will a

    January 25th, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    I will always hate homework. I want there to be some down time for me too and it feels like homework is what makes this impossible.

  • Jennifer

    Jennifer

    January 26th, 2016 at 9:49 AM

    Thank goodness we have never had any of those horrific homework nights that I know are common for so many families. So I can’t say for sure whether it is good or bad, but I always feel like it is a good review and a way to study for their tests.

  • angela m

    angela m

    January 28th, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    One thing that I think that schools should consider is to have the teachers work on teams, so that there is more awareness of what the kids are doing in each class and who may be assigning homework on any given night. I know that kids have to learn to juggle the assignments but I think that if there was more communication among the teachers then you wouldn’t have as many of those nights where they can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Jimmy

    Jimmy

    January 29th, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    It’s such a chore and a burden
    I think that parents and students alike would all have a much more positive view of school of there wasn’t so much homework involved.

  • sadie

    sadie

    January 30th, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    There at least has to be some reasoning behind why teachers continue to do this or otherwise I don’t think that they would. I mean this is taking up a lot of their time too, going back and checking for who did it and grading it and all. Teachers are doing this so that they can see what they need to do better too, so it is not just some exercise in futility for the students. The classroom educators should be able to take away a lot from this too.

  • Noelle

    Noelle

    January 31st, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    Staying up with your child past midnight to get homework done is never cool.

  • Emily

    Emily

    March 29th, 2016 at 10:13 PM

    Well, I think homework is somewhat necessary.
    In my opinion, the ability to handle stress and extra-curricular activities may be beneficial for students in the long run.

  • james b

    james b

    August 12th, 2016 at 10:11 PM

    It depends upon level of complexity. Just like solution manuals, assignment help service often help student to break initial barrier. Keep learning like a pro. If you want assistance, we love to provide suitable help

  • rifat499

    rifat499

    January 4th, 2017 at 5:38 AM

    The distinction between “Assignment Help” and “Assignment Writing Service” lies within the scope of the paper. In their shorter type, they’re normally known as as “Assignment Help” whereby the author is meant to require a stand purpose, develop a thesis and support the thesis victimisation the researches done by others. It should be noted that the non-public experiences don’t count as support for the thesis statement. the author should think about the educational work of others for supporting the thesis statement.

  • Ervin

    Ervin

    May 6th, 2017 at 11:25 PM

    As assignments play a crucial role in student’s life. So, There should be a proper balance between the assignment and the extra-curricular activities, so that it can increase the efficiency of the student. For maintaining the balance you can also visit essaycorp.com/geometry-assignment-help.php for the assignment help.

  • Arianna A

    Arianna A

    November 19th, 2017 at 9:20 PM

    Homework is definitely helping the students to learn the things properly & also enhance their skill on that topic. So I always care these things for my child. I helped them to do homework perfectly but when something I don’t have any knowledge on this then I looked forward online assignment helper like Courseworktutors Inc provider those helps the students to complete their tasks. Really it is very much effective.

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