The education system seems to be always trying to improve upon itself for the benefit of the millions of students and teachers. Whether it be developing new and more efficient ways of teaching or simply just updating the old curriculum to better the learning experience for both the students and the teachers. However, it may be time to question one of the most common practices that has been engrained throughout the education system which is homework. This being necessary due to the many negatives that have been observed to be caused by homework and more specifically to much homework, in addition to the overall effectiveness of it in certain age groups. Homework does offer many positives such as reinforcing what you have learned, help develop good studious habits, and improve student’s academic achievement it all depends on the way a teacher utilizes homework. This essay will go in depth about why the education system needs to change the way they go about homework in order to balance the positives and negatives effects that homework causes students.
Many people do not realize all the negative impact that homework can have on a student. One thing homework has shown to have an effect on a student’s level of engagement with non academic activities. We can see an example of this in this quotation “In general, students’ experiences with homework tend to be negative and emotionally charged. Students often experience lower levels of engagement while doing homework than engaging in other out-of-school activities”(Galloway 493). This research shows that many students are not nearly engaged in their homework as they should be, whether it be because of the homework being uninteresting, or maybe it being overly repetitive. Not only is homework in general unengaging for students, but it also takes time away from students doing activities that they want to do. Shannon, senior science writer for Stat, brings up a good point in her argument 'Homework should be an opportunity to engage in creative, exploratory activity--doing an oral history of your family or determining the ecological effects of a neighborhood business.' Rather than memorizing names, dates and battles of the Civil War, students might write fictional letters from a Northerner to a Southerner, expressing their feelings about the issues dividing the nation”(Begley 1). One key change that the education system could take away from this, is to make homework a more enjoyable and engaging experience, making it feel like less of a hassle for the student to accomplish.
Another detrimental effect that research has shown to have on students is stress. One study that used data to find out the relations among homework, a student’s health, and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing schools found that “As expected, many students in our study reported experiencing stress, compromised health, or lack of balance. Most experienced distress and/or lacked time to engage in important life tasks outside of school. The majority (72%) reported being often or always stressed over schoolwork and many reported that they experienced physical symptoms due to stress with 82% reported experiencing at least one physical symptom in the past month, and 44% of the sample experiencing three or more symptoms”(Wilde 498) This study shows that the vast majority of students in his survey were constantly stressed and even more experienced physical symptoms caused by their stress. Now it is clear that everyone has to go through stress throughout their life and you could argue that this stress will prepare the students for adulthood. Why this is true so many students already have experience so much stress, whether it be from a bad home life or trying to help provide for their family. So, to me if the education system could help manage or reduce the amount of stress that students have to go through, why not do it. Some of the suggested actions that have have concluded from my research are as simple as reducing homework to a useful and helpful level. In addition to “home work should also be crucial to the next day's classwork, to emphasize to students that homework matters and isn't just a plot to make them miserable”(Begley 1).This would allow students more time to do extracurricular activities and would allow the relationship between student and homework to be positive or at least a useful resource instead of a nuisance. If the education system were to take these actions I believe that the amount of stress students go through to be reduced.
The last thing that I am going to go into is the effectiveness of homework. Homework has been shown to be a great asset in middle school forward and is an essential part of learning, as long as it follows the suggestions above. However, many studies have shown that homework before middle school is ineffective. We see an example of this in this research “For the new study he will present there, Cooper collected data on 709 students in grades two through four and six through 12. In lower grades, 'there was a significant negative relationship between the amount of homework assigned and student attitudes,' Cooper says, reflecting the not-surprising fact that kids resent the stuff. But in grades six and up, the more homework students completed, the higher their achievement. (Begley 1) All this research shows that all the homework given to students younger than six grade, is not helpful and possibly harmful to the young students. Another somewhat alarming trend that has been going on that correlates with this is the increase of homework for younger students. According to Brian Gill, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation, “One homework fact that educators do agree upon is that the young child today is doing more homework than ever before… There has been some increase in homework for the kids in kindergarten, first grade and second grade” (Wilde 2). This increase in homework just leads to young students having a negative cognition with it. In addition, not all kids have the same learning style, for example for me I am a quick learner and do not need a lot of problems of homework in order to comprehend a topic. This is why teachers should adapt for each student or try their best to do so, maybe making homework optional as long as you can prove on the tests that they have learned the subject. By not forcing young students to do homework that does not even help them, I think this would help mediate the hate that many kids develop for homework at this young age.
All in all, it is clear that homework is a very complicated topic that has so many positives that it can offer a student, but with these positives come all the negatives. These include its cause of stress, takes away from a students' engagement in school and outside, as long with it not being useful to all. The challenge lies with finding how to balance these effects, for the homework to be truly a useful tool for students to utilize.
- Begley, Sharon. “Homework Doesn’t Help. (Cover Story).” Newsweek, vol. 131, no. 13, Mar. 1998,p.50.EBSCOhost,search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mth&AN=386599&site=ehost-live&scope=sie.
- Galloway, Mollie, et al. “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools.” Journal of Experimental Education, vol. 81, no. 4, Oct. 2013, pp. 490–510. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00220973.2012.745469.
- Wilde, Marian. “Do Our Kids Have Too Much Homework?” Parenting, www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/homework-is-too-much/.