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For other uses, see Homework (disambiguation).
Homework may include mathematical exercises

Homework, or a homework assignment, is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the class. Common homework assignments may include a quantity or period of reading to be performed, writing or typing to be completed, problems to be solved, a school project to be built (such as a diorama or display), or other skills to be practiced.

Main objectives and reasons

The basic objectives of assigning homework to students are the same as schooling in general: to increase the knowledge and improve the abilities and skills of the students.[1] However, opponents of homework cite homework as rote, or grind work, designed to take up children's time, without offering tangible benefit.[2] Homework may be designed to reinforce what students have already learned,[3] prepare them for upcoming (or complex or difficult) lessons, extend what they know by having them apply it to new situations, or to integrate their abilities by applying many different skills to a single task. Homework also provides an opportunity for parents to participate in their children's education.


Methods to assess the correlation between homework and academic performance vary.[4] Homework research dates back to the early-1900s. However, no consensus exists on the general effectiveness on homework.[5] Results of homework studies varied based on multiple factors, such as the age group of those studied and the measure of academic performance.[4]

Cooper, Robinson & Patall (2006) studied the relevant literature on homework, yielding varied results from different studies. However, the results were positively correlated with the age of the students. Studies involving older students reported more positive results relating to the effectiveness of homework than studies involving younger students, although the authors stated that age may not be the causing factor, recommending that researchers commence further studies using different methodology.[6] The amount of homework in older students was positively correlated with academic performance consistently between studies, although at very high amounts, students' academic performance worsened. Similar studies for younger students are few at the time, although the one study analyzed showed an unclear relationship between the amount of homework and academic performance.

Methodologies used to study the effectiveness of homework have also been disputed. To measure student achievement, most studies used either grades, standardized test scores, or both. Trautwein & Köller (2003) argued that grades may be an unsound measure of achievement, as individual grades may depend on the overall performance of the class: a student may receive a higher grade for the same work in one class than another. Estimates for time spent on homework have also been disputed: the definition of "homework" varies between studies, and reports of the time spent on homework may be unreliable.[7]

Galloway & Conner (2013) surveyed 4,317 high school students from ten high-performing schools, and found that students reported spending more than three hours on homework daily. 72% of the students reported stress from homework, and 82% reported physical symptoms. The students slept an average of 6 hours 48 minutes, lower than the recommendations prescribed by various health agencies.


A review by researchers at Duke University of more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 showed that within limits, there is a positive interaction between the amount of homework which is done and student achievement. The research synthesis also indicated that too much homework could be counterproductive. The research supports the '10-minute rule' - the widely accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. For example, under this system, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework per night while 5th graders would get 50 minutes' worth, 9th graders 90 minutes of homework, etc.[8]

Harris Cooper,[9] a professor of psychology and chairman of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, said the research synthesis that he led showed the positive correlation was much stronger for secondary students --- those in grades seven through 12 --- than those in elementary school.[8]

Many schools exceed these recommendations or do not considered assigned reading in the time limit worthwhile.[10]

In the United Kingdom, recommendations on homework quantities were outlined by the then Department for Education in 1998. These ranged from 10 minutes daily reading for 5-year-olds, to up to 2.5 hours per day for the pupils in Year 11 aged 15 or 16.[11]


There is research[qualify evidence] supporting the idea that homework is of little educational value, and that for young children (i.e., 14 and under) it may have a negative effect on learning.[12][13] Commentator Alfie Kohn argues that homework can create family conflict, reduce quality of life through boredom, destroy curiosity, and love of learning (replacing intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation) and takes time away from independent study and extracurricular, family, and social activities important to childhood development.

Schools without homework

  • Sudbury Valley School (PreK-12, founded 1968, Framingham, MA, USA) and other Sudbury Schools based on the same academic model do not assign homework. If students have homework it is by their own choosing, as all activities and pursuits are self-directed, including initiating classes and homework.


The earliest known teacher to administer homework was Roberto Nevilis in Venice in 1095, but there might have been instructors that have administer homework before him despite with a lack of evidence. [14]

In the United States

Historically, homework was frowned upon in American culture. With few students interested in higher education, and due to the necessity to complete daily chores, homework was discouraged not only by parents, but also by school districts. In 1901, the California legislature passed an act that effectively abolished homework for those who attended kindergarten through the eighth grade. But, in the 1950s, with increasing pressure on the United States to stay ahead in the Cold War, homework made a resurgence, and children were encouraged to keep up with their Russian counterparts. By the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the consensus in American education was overwhelmingly in favor of issuing homework to students of all grade levels.[15]

In a study done at the University of Michigan in 2007, research concluded that the amount of homework given is increasing over time. In a sample taken of students between the ages of 6 and 9, it was shown that students spend more than two hours a week on homework, as opposed to 44 minutes in 1981.[16] Homework scholar Harris Cooper concluded after a comprehensive review that homework does not improve academic achievements for grade school students. Cooper analyzed dozens of students and found that kids who are assigned homework in middle and high school actually score "somewhat" better on standardized tests, but that kids who do 60 to 90 minutes of homework in middle school and more than 2 hours in high school actually score worse.[17]

See also

Further reading

  • Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much
  • The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sarah Bennett & Nancy Kalish (2006) Discusses in detail assessments of studies on homework and the authors' own research and assessment of the homework situation in the United States. Has specific recommendations and sample letters to be used in negotiating a reduced homework load for your child.
  • Closing the Book on Homework: Enhancing Public Education and Freeing Family Time by John Buell (2004)
  • The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents by Harris Cooper (2007)
  • The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn (2006)
  • The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovec and John Buell (2000)

Notes and references



  1. ^ Synthesis of research on homework. H Cooper - Educational leadership, 1989 -
  2. ^ Haddock, Vicki (2006-10-09). "After years of teachers piling it on, there's a new movement to ... Abolish homework". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-12-09. Vigorous scrutiny of the research, they argue, fails to demonstrate tangible benefits of homework, particularly for elementary students. What it does instead, they contend, is rob children of childhood, play havoc with family life and asphyxiate their natural curiosity. Learning becomes a mind-numbing grind rather than an engaging adventure. 
  3. ^ Needlmen, Robert. "Homework: The Rules of the Game". 
  4. ^ a b Cooper, Robinson & Patall 2006, p. 1.
  5. ^ Trautwein & Köller 2003.
  6. ^ Cooper, Robinson & Patall 2006, pp. 50–51.
  7. ^ Trautwein & Köller 2003, pp. 126–127.
  8. ^ a b "Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much". Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  9. ^ "Harris Cooper, Professor of Education and Hugo L. Blomquist Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience". 
  10. ^ See for example Toronto Student Trustees Ask School Board For Homework Overload Restrictions, Marta Cyperling - AHN News Writer, June 20, 2007.
  11. ^ "Homework cut for youngest pupils". BBC News website. BBC News. 1998-11-10. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  12. ^ Kohn, Alfie (2006). The Homework Myth: why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Cambridg, MA.: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-7382-1085-4. 
  13. ^ Bennett, Sara; Kalish, Nancy (2006). The Case Against Homework: how homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-307-34017-1. 
  14. ^ "Strange Facts: Who Invented Homework?". Flokka. 
  15. ^ "History of Homework". The San Francisco Chronicle. 1999-12-20. Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  16. ^ Seligman, Katherine (1999-12-19). "Parents: Too much homework". Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  17. ^ Wallis, Claudia (August 29, 2006). "The Myth About Homework". Time Online. 


  • Cooper, Harris; Robinson, Jorgianne C.; Patall, Erika A. (2006). "Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003". Review of Educational Research. 71 (6): 1–62. 
  • Galloway, Mollie; Conner, Jerusha; Pope, Denise (2013). "Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools". The Journal of Experimental Education. 81 (4): 490–510. doi:10.1080/00220973.2012.745469.  open access publication - free to read
  • Trautwein, Ulrich; Köller, Olaf (2003). "The Relationship Between Homework and Achievement—Still Much of a Mystery". Educational Psychology Review. 15 (2): 115–145. doi:10.1023/A:1023460414243. 

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