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Wesley Moore
Wesley Moore

Effect Of Homework On College Students [UPD]



Homework battles have raged for decades. For as long as kids have been whining about doing their homework, parents and education reformers have complained that homework's benefits are dubious. Meanwhile many teachers argue that take-home lessons are key to helping students learn. Now, as schools are shifting to the new (and hotly debated) Common Core curriculum standards, educators, administrators and researchers are turning a fresh eye toward the question of homework's value.




effect of homework on college students



Homework can indeed produce academic benefits, such as increased understanding and retention of the material, says Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, PhD, one of the nation's leading homework researchers. But not all students benefit. In a review of studies published from 1987 to 2003, Cooper and his colleagues found that homework was linked to better test scores in high school and, to a lesser degree, in middle school. Yet they found only faint evidence that homework provided academic benefit in elementary school (Review of Educational Research, 2006).


In a recent study of Spanish students, Rubén Fernández-Alonso, PhD, and colleagues found that students who were regularly assigned math and science homework scored higher on standardized tests. But when kids reported having more than 90 to 100 minutes of homework per day, scores declined (Journal of Educational Psychology, 2015).


"At all grade levels, doing other things after school can have positive effects," Cooper says. "To the extent that homework denies access to other leisure and community activities, it's not serving the child's best interest."


A 2014 report by the Brookings Institution examined the question of homework, comparing data from a variety of sources. That report cited findings from a 2012 survey of first-year college students in which 38.4 percent reported spending six hours or more per week on homework during their last year of high school. That was down from 49.5 percent in 1986 (The Brown Center Report on American Education, 2014).


The Brookings report also explored survey data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which asked 9-, 13- and 17-year-old students how much homework they'd done the previous night. They found that between 1984 and 2012, there was a slight increase in homework for 9-year-olds, but homework amounts for 13- and 17-year-olds stayed roughly the same, or even decreased slightly.


Yet other evidence suggests that some kids might be taking home much more work than they can handle. Robert Pressman, PhD, and colleagues recently investigated the 10-minute rule among more than 1,100 students, and found that elementary-school kids were receiving up to three times as much homework as recommended. As homework load increased, so did family stress, the researchers found (American Journal of Family Therapy, 2015).


Many high school students also seem to be exceeding the recommended amounts of homework. Pope and Galloway recently surveyed more than 4,300 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, 2013).


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. In Pope and Galloway's research, only 20 percent to 30 percent of students said they felt their homework was useful or meaningful.


From dioramas to book reports, from algebraic word problems to research projects, whether students should be given homework, as well as the type and amount of homework, has been debated for over a century. [1]


Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school. [10]


Data from a nationwide sample of elementary school students show that parental involvement in homework can improve class performance, especially among economically disadvantaged African-American and Hispanic students. [20]


30% (about 15 to 16 million) public school students either did not have an adequate internet connection or an appropriate device, or both, for distance learning. Completing homework for these students is more complicated (having to find a safe place with an internet connection, or borrowing a laptop, for example) or impossible. [51]


A Hispanic Heritage Foundation study found that 96.5% of students across the country needed to use the internet for homework, and nearly half reported they were sometimes unable to complete their homework due to lack of access to the internet or a computer, which often resulted in lower grades. [37] [38]


Fourth grade students who did no homework got roughly the same score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math exam as those who did 30 minutes of homework a night. Students who did 45 minutes or more of homework a night actually did worse. [41]


Homework is an important part of keeping students engaged with the class material outside of school, even though some students may think of it as a waste of time and effort. By doing homework, students are able to think about what was taught in class in further detail and develop a mastery through practical applications of the lessons. Homework brings educational benefits for all students, and it helps establish soft skills like time management and organization that are necessary beyond high school graduation. However, sometimes the extra assignments can lead to stress for the student and the family. As homework piles up, some students may find themselves engaging less and less.


In 2013, research conducted by Stanford University demonstrated that students from high-achieving communities experience stress, physical health problems, an imbalance in their lives, and alienation from society as a result of spending too much time on homework. According to the survey data, 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress. The remaining students viewed tests and the pressure to get good grades as the primary stressors. Notably, less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.


The present study is similar to that of Olympia et al. (1994) in that the primary target response was completion of homework assignments. Individual college students enrolled in an advanced undergraduate course in psychology were exposed to two levels of a contingency for submission of homework assignments under an alternating treatments design. The effect of the manipulation could be observed on probability of homework submission and on subsequent performance on a related quiz. Unlike prior studies, the effects of a contingency for homework completion on quiz performance were analyzed for individual participants. Experimental effects were also evaluated for group-mean performance. The within-subject design addressed the ethical dilemma associated with assignment of some students to a condition potentially associated with a reduced opportunity to learn (Haggas & Hantula, 2002). In the current study, each student was exposed to each level of the independent variable equally often. Furthermore, even when students were not required to submit homework assignments, they were encouraged to do so to improve their quiz performance. Feedback was provided for all submitted assignments.


Only two prior studies on the effects of homework assignments for college-level teaching were located (Fleming, 2002; Gurung, 2003), and both relied on self-reported measures. In addition to problems of accuracy (Trautwein & Köller, 2003), such measures are vulnerable to potentially confounding variables, such as demand characteristics (Orne, 1962) when research participants are concerned about their course grades. In the present study, this problem was handled by requiring students to submit their completed homework assignments, thereby providing a direct measure of procedural reliability.


Panels A and B show the percentage of students who submitted homework assignments as a function of chapters in the no-points and points conditions; Panels C and D show mean quiz grades (percentage correct) across chapters in the no-points and points conditions.


An interesting, although perhaps not surprising, finding is that homework submission was not maintained by the availability of instructor-provided feedback and the expectation of improved quiz grades. This was true despite the fact that all students indicated preference for the requirements of this course over those of other courses. These data therefore encourage the common practice of requiring college students to do homework. A more general implication of this study relates to implementation of behavior-analytic principles and procedures in mainstream education where their impact has been limited (e.g., Deitz, 1994; Hall, 1991; Maheady, Harper, Karnes, & Mallette, 1999). The present experimental design can be incorporated into the structure of a college (or secondary school) course and is relatively easy for the researcher (instructor) to implement. The independent and dependent variables involve measures that instructors routinely collect (homework and quiz performance), thereby facilitating analysis at the individual level and determination of procedural reliability. The within-subject manipulation avoids the ethical and internal validity problems noted above, and provides greater statistical power than a strictly between-groups design.


Homework is defined as tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are intended to be carried out during nonschool hours. This definition excludes in-school guided study (although homework is often worked on during school), home-study courses, and extracurricular activities such as sports teams and clubs.


The most common purpose of homework is to have students practice material already presented in class so as to reinforce learning and facilitate mastery of specific skills. Preparation assignments introduce the material that will be presented in future lessons. These assignments aim to help students obtain the maximum benefit when the new material is covered in class. Extension homework involves the transfer of previously learned skills to new situations. For example, students might learn in class about factors that led to the French Revolution and then be asked as homework to apply them to the American Revolution. Finally, integration homework requires the student to apply separately learned skills to produce a single product, such as book reports, science projects, or creative writing.


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