Parents, teachers, and students may be divided on the issue of giving homework; but research shows academic performance increases in primary grade students. It’s a given the majority of students do not enjoy being assigned homework. Parents and teachers, and administrators in education have divided beliefs on whether homework is advantageous for students, especially in the elementary grades. Research shows students in the middle and high school grades do increase their academic performance when given daily homework. However, the elementary grades students show no significant increase in their academic performance when assigned daily homework.
What the Research Shows
In looking at quality of instruction, assigning homework must be included as a factor if in fact homework is shown to impact academic achievements in all students. Rosenberg (1989) conducted a study at Johns Hopkins University to examine the impact of daily homework in acquiring basic academic skills of Learning Disabled students. He used six elementary-level students with learning disabilities and who had Individualized Education Plans (IEPs (Rosenberg, 1989). Additionally the subjects had indicated a need to work on the acquisition and fluency of basic multiplication facts.
Rosenberg (1989) concluded that at first glance, the effects of the supplemental homework assignments on math fact performance could be characterized as equivocal; however, several factors mediated the differential effects of the assigned homework. The patterns revealed homework was effective only when a rate of homework completion equaled or exceeded 70%; the percentage correct on homework assignments averaged 70% or above and a student demonstrated at least moderate acquisition of the material during checks of performance (Rosenberg, 1989). Students who did not reflect all three components did not show consistent benefits from the homework.
In a larger study, Trautwein (2007) analyzed data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and concluded further study was indicated to determine the relationship between homework and academic achievement. (Trautwein, 2007). Trautwein brought to light two important factors: 1) a homework effect at the class level happens when students in classes with a higher quantity or quality have more pronounced achievement gains than students in other classes; 2) a homework effect at the student level happens when students in the same class differ in their homework behavior and show differential outcomes (Trautwein, 2007).
The study revealed time spent on homework was a predicting factor on the relationship between homework and achievement. The results indicated homework time had a negative effect at the student level and a positive effect at the school level (Trautwein, 2007).
Parental Involvement is a Factor in Increased Academic Performance
Parental involvement is another factor in the relationship between homework and achievement. Problems arise when parents or caregivers are conflicted in their beliefs regarding the value of homework.
Hoover-Dempsey et al. (1995) report parents’ beliefs about their children’s abilities play a part in how they handle homework. Parents cite various problems in getting their children to complete homework including procrastination, needing reminders and prompts, and easily distracted during the homework process (Polloway, Epstein, & Foley, 1992). According to Epstein, 1984, student achievement is higher when parents monitor homework, participate in school activities and support the work and values of school. It appears there is not accord between parents’ and teachers’ beliefs and expectations about homework. Parents seem to believe teachers want accurate and complete assignments; teachers value effort and are lenient when grading (Bryan & Nelson, 1995). Research indicates many parents believe that partnership with schools in regards to homework support is an important factor in achievement (Levin et al., 1997).
In a 12-year follow up study conducted by Solomon, Warin & Lewis (2002), they found that though the original study contained a variety of survey questions; the issue of homework was repeatedly reported by both parents and students as a major factor in the family relationship.
Students may Complain but Research Data Supports Homework
Harris Cooper from Duke University is acknowledged as the foremost expert on the homework issue. In 1989 he reviewed over 60 studies and indicated research definitely supports the notion that homework does make a significant impact on academic achievement (Cooper, 2007). In 2001 he added an additional 60 studies and found the same result.
Cooper also suggested research findings support the common “10-minute rule” which states all daily homework assignments combined should take about as long to complete as 10 minutes multiplied by the student’s grade level (Cooper, 2007). However, Cooper cautioned against teachers assigning too much homework as that could have an adverse effect.
Bryan, T. & Nelson, C. (1995). Doing homework: Perspectives of elementary and middle school students. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27, 488-499.
Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Epstein, J. L. (1984). School policy and parent involvement: Research results. Educational Horizons, 62, 70-72.
Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., Bassler, O.C., & Burrow, R. (1995). Parents’ reported involvement in students’ homework: Strategies and practices. The Elementary School Journal, 95 (5), 435-450.
Polloway, E.A., Epstein, M.H. & Foley, R. (1992). A comparison of the homework problems of students with learning disabilities and non-handicapped students. Learning Disabilities: Research and Practice, 7, 203-209.
Rosenberg, M. S. (1989). The effects of daily homework assignments on the acquisition of basic skills by students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22 (5), 314-323.
Solomon, Y., Wain, J., & Lewis, C. (2002). Helping with homework? Homework as a site of tension for parents and teenagers. British Educational Research Association, 28 (4), 603-622.
Trautwein, U. (2007). The homework-achievement relation reconsidered: Differentiating homework time, homework frequency, and homework effort. Learning and Instruction, 17 (3), 372-388.
Levin, I., Levy-Sniff, R., Appelbaum-Peled, T., Katz, I., Komar, M. & Meiran, N. (1997). Antecedent and consequences of maternal involvement in children’s homework: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied and Developemental Psychology, 18, 207-227.
The copyright of the article “Research Supports Assigning Homework to Students” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.