Is Homework Necessary?


Recently, research concerning homework’s effects on students conducted by Stanford University have revealed alarming results: over 70 percent of students say they are “often or always stressed over schoolwork.” 56 percent claim that homework is their primary stressor, with less than 1 percent stating homework is not a stressor. These statistics highlight a major issue that most individuals have come to accept as part of the mandatory educational process. Yet, for various reasons, homework is not essential to learning and does not have to cause the high amount of stress it currently produces for students.

Many teachers assign homework so that students can review material at home and become more proficient at their school work. Homework is often deemed necessary by teachers because of time constraints in the classroom.They view homework as a positive supplement to education because it provides more opportunity to practice concepts taught at school. Specifically in mathematical subjects, teachers often assign homework in order to provide important review for the students. Assignments such as these are understandably needed and beneficial for student comprehension. However, the majority of assignments are not.

Homework can often be time consuming and cause unnecessary stress for high school students. The vast majority of students have to balance their school work with sports and multiple extracurricular activities. In order to complete everything demanded of them, students often have to sacrifice sleep and suffer from high levels of stress.  Many question the purpose of assignments that seem meaningless and do little to help students understand concepts. Frequently, homework that teachers assign are time-fillers that simply reinforce old lessons with nonessential repetition. Several studies even show that there is little correlation between homework and high academic achievement.

A recent study completed by scientist Mikk tracked the association between educational achievement in forty-six different countries. His results revealed how students in countries where homework was regularly assigned and counted towards grades, achieved at a lower standard. Scientist Swank examined the differences in test scores among elementary schoolers who either were or were not assigned homework. She discovered that no differences in math achievement scores existed between the two groups. These findings demonstrate how homework, contrary to the common belief among teachers, are not necessary to high achievement for students. In many instances, assigning homework does little to even benefit education.

An additional study completed by Adam Maltese and his colleagues compared the amount of homework assigned to thousands of students with the student’s scores on statistical tests in order to discover whether a correlation between assignments and high scores existed. This detailed study also took a close look at the course grades of students who did and did not complete homework daily. The results revealed that students assigned an hour of homework a night on average scored only 1 or 2 points higher than students assigned 30 minutes or less. No significant difference existed between the two groups of students, and in many instances no difference whatsoever separated the student’s scores. The findings gathered from the close look at the student’s individual course grades were even more interesting: the researchers discovered that there was no difference between the grades of students who completed their daily homework and those who did not.

Although it has become prevalent in schools, homework clearly is not essential to the learning process. At the very least, it is vastly over-assigned by the majority of teachers and produces more stress than positive results in academic achievement. Whether or not teachers view homework as beneficial, rethinking the copious amounts of assignments demanded of students is a crucial step in bettering our education system.

By: Madeleine Fossler

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