What sort of effect does homework have on student learning? In the April 1985 issue of Educational Leadership, educators Herbert J. Walberg, Rosanne A. Paschal, and Thomas Weinstein synthesize 15 studies and find a direct correlation between homework and student achievement.
Read the article: Homework’s Powerful Effects on Learning (PDF)
“There seems little doubt that homework has substantial effects on students’ learning,” the group notes. The authors cite studies claiming that if homework is assigned, a student in the 50th percentile will jump to the 60th. If the homework is graded, the increase is even more dramatic, with students jumping from 50th to 79th. The authors also argue that Japanese students have higher student achievement scores as a direct result of the larger amount of homework they do.
Those of you following discussions of homework policy might want to put a footnote or two on this conclusion.
In a recent post on the homework/no homework debate as framed by Bob Marzano, Dina Strasser summarizes Marzano’s checklist for effective homework
- Homework needs to be completed in order to produce the highest achievement gains. Design it with ease of completion in mind.
- A large amount of homework does not result in better learning.
- Homework should be academically purposeful, not a punishment or a symbol of the seriousness of study.
- Homework should be explicitly tied to the current learning goals of the class.
- Homework should be able to be completed without adult assistance.
- Parents or guardians should not be expected to act as content experts.
- Parents should, however, be provided with clear homework guidelines.
- Assignments that involve using the parents’ expertise or personal experiences (such as interviews) are often successful.
What about grading homework? One high school math teacher doesn’t grade homework, and her homework completion rates have stayed steady.
Our “homework lady” Cathy Vatterott calls for major reforms to large amounts of take-home work.
And no surprise here, CBS’s “Assignment America” video interview with an 11 year-old student saying homework is forced and unnecessary.
What homework philosophy guides your classroom policy? How do you wisely wield the correlation between homework (or practice) and achievement to the advantage of your students?
In “My Back Pages,” we look at important issues through the historical lens of the Educational Leadership archives. ASCD members can access EL issues from 1943 to the present by signing in.