The Washington Post reported in that some parents have just instructed their younger children not to do their homework assignments. They report the no-homework policy has taken the stress out of their afternoons and evenings. In , research conducted at Stanford University found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from society.
That study, published in The Journal of Experimental Education , suggested that any more than two hours of homework per night is counterproductive. However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework each night, on average.
To conduct the study, researchers surveyed more than 4, students at 10 high-performing high schools in upper middle-class California communities. They also interviewed students about their views on homework. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor. The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.
More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms. The researchers also found that spending too much time on homework meant that students were not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills. Students were more likely to forgo activities, stop seeing friends or family, and not participate in hobbies.
Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills. Should schools screen children for mental health problems?
A smaller New York University study published last year noted similar findings. That study, which appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, noted serious health effects for high schoolers, such as chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, and alcohol and drug use. The research involved a series of interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, as well as a survey of a total of juniors from two private high schools.
About half of the students said they received at least three hours of homework per night. They also faced pressure to take college-level classes and excel in activities outside of school. Many students felt they were being asked to work as hard as adults, and noted that their workload seemed inappropriate for their development level.
They reported having little time for relaxing or creative activities. More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress. The researchers expressed concern that students at high-pressure high schools can get burned out before they even get to college. In the Stanford study, many students said that they often did homework they saw as "pointless" or "mindless.
Pope, who co-authored that study, argued that homework assignments should have a purpose and benefit, and should be designed to cultivate learning and development. In an interview with Monitor on Psychology, Pope pointed out that students can learn challenging skills even when less homework is assigned.
Pope described one teacher she worked with who taught advanced placement biology, and experimented by dramatically cutting down homework assignments. First the teacher cut homework by a third, and then cut the assignments in half. Many high school students also seem to be exceeding the recommended amounts of homework.
Pope and Galloway recently surveyed more than 4, students from 10 high-achieving high schools. Students reported bringing home an average of just over three hours of homework nightly Journal of Experiential Education , On the positive side, students who spent more time on homework in that study did report being more behaviorally engaged in school — for instance, giving more effort and paying more attention in class, Galloway says.
But they were not more invested in the homework itself. They also reported greater academic stress and less time to balance family, friends and extracurricular activities. They experienced more physical health problems as well, such as headaches, stomach troubles and sleep deprivation. In the high-achieving schools Pope and Galloway studied, more than 90 percent of the students go on to college. On top of that, kids in these communities are often overloaded with extracurricular activities, including sports and clubs.
Yet homework can be a problem at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum as well. Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, Internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs, says Lea Theodore, PhD, a professor of school psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
They are less likely to have computers or a quiet place to do homework in peace. One point researchers agree on is that for all students, homework quality matters. But too many kids are feeling a lack of engagement with their take-home assignments, many experts say. Still, he says, different subjects call for different kinds of assignments.
Other kinds of courses require more integration of material and drawing on different skills. But critics say those skills can be developed with many fewer hours of homework each week.
Why assign 50 math problems, Pope asks, when 10 would be just as constructive? One Advanced Placement biology teacher she worked with through Challenge Success experimented with cutting his homework assignments by a third, and then by half. Teachers-to-be get little instruction in homework during their training, Pope says.
Galloway argues teachers and school administrators need to set clear goals when it comes to homework — and parents and students should be in on the discussion, too. Why are we giving it? Who is it serving? Who is it not serving? Until schools and communities agree to take a hard look at those questions, those backpacks full of take-home assignments will probably keep stirring up more feelings than facts.
Feature Is homework a necessary evil? The minute rule In many ways, homework seems like common sense. All over the map But are teachers sticking to the minute rule? Further reading Cooper, H. Does homework improve academic achievement?
Help Customer Service eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other.
Read this Miscellaneous Research Paper and over 88, other research documents. Is Homework Helpful or Harmful to Students. Homework has been around for a very long time. It is set and traced as a tradition of having teachers /5(1).
Is homework harmful or helpful? Education experts and parents weigh in. Research doesn't have all the answers, but a review of some existing data yields some helpful observations and guidance. How Much Homework Do Students Do? Survey data and anecdotal evidence show that some students spend hours nightly doing homework.
Fast ForWord Research & Independent Reviews The Great Homework Debate: Is Homework Helpful or Harmful to Students? Request info. Share this page: So, what is the answer – is homework helpful or harmful? Do we continue current practices or throw homework out altogether? Apr 23, · Homework is the perfect platform for parents to help children unravel the mystery to learning. Parents are in a unique position to hang the academic .