Homework: Help or Hinder?

March 11, 2010
Homework, we’ve all done it, whether you’re forty-two or eight you have touched that infamous work sheet that just crushes your spirits at first sight. Six plus hours spent at school then another two plus hours spent on homework, when is enough enough? Does homework truly help students or does it just beat them down into a hole they can’t and don’t want to come out of? Homework is vital, but the amount is killer, reducing the amount will lead to better test scores and a decrease in cheating.
Homework starts out in elementary school with minimal, but crucial assignments. At that age, it is to develop good study habits for the future. However, when entering the high school grades, the amount is substantially more than what is necessary. I understand that homework is necessary to learn, but the more homework that is given the more the students don’t want to do it. The more homework students complete, especially from grades six to twelve, the better they do in school, according to research conducted by psychologists Harris Cooper, Ph.D., James J. Lindsay, Ph.D., and Scott Greathouse, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri -- Columbia and psychologist Barbara Nye, Ph.D., of Tennessee State University. With the more homework that is given, more homework is not completed and kids start falling behind. If there is a happy medium, students would be able to do the homework, learn from it and improve rather than dreading it, cheating on it and getting it in for the good grade without learning it.
In some studies, up to 80% of high-achieving high school students and 75% of college students admit to cheating. Could this be related to the amount of homework given? Students that are stressed out about homework and reaching high achievements are more likely to cheat just to get the good grade rather than to fail and learn from their mistakes. If one student were to not do the homework assigned, yet still get the same grade on a test as a student who did all of the assignments thoroughly…the assignments were useless and just busy work. This concept is fairly basic, if teachers were to give students assignments that were reasonable and doable our numbers in testing and overall grades would be significantly increased.
“If a teacher wants students to do well, a certain amount of homework is expected. But shouldn’t teachers try to minimize the amount as much as possible?” said chemistry teacher Kelly Crowley. Crowley has been teaching at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nevada for 7 years. She went on to say, “There needs to be a delicate balance between an appropriate amount of homework and ‘busy work’. How much homework is necessary to put short term memory into long term memory?” Crowley raises another point, homework is used to transfer the information you learned during class from short term memory into long term memory. Without homework in a class such as chemistry, you are bound to go home, worry about other things and return to school and have forgotten all you learned just two days earlier.
There have been many studies on homework and if it helps or not. From what I’ve read the consensus is yes; homework is proven to increase test grades, but if too much homework is given out it can hinder the test grades. So here you go teachers, find a happy medium. Don’t weigh your students down with busy work; give them the assignments they need to pass the test. After all, isn’t that your job to help students pass your class, not kill them with homework and stress?





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