Homework Statement

Introduction

In the past ten years, homework has been the subject of many academic studies, and more recently the theory and practice behind homework has been questioned. As a community of learners, we at St Joseph's have been following the developments on this subject, and are reviewing our practice as a result. 

Research

Some significant peer reviewed studies have been conducted in the past few years. 

  • Hattie's (2011) meta-analysis found that homework in the primary years has no academic benefit. It does prove to be an effective strategy for secondary students. Therefore, it may play a role in transitioning a student to high school. 
  • Interactive reading with your child each night (reading to them and having them read to you) has been found to be of immense benefit to children when it comes to the development of literacy. This should continue well after they have learnt to read. (Merga, 2017)
  • Cooper's (2006) findings suggested that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, negative attitudes to learning and limit leisure time for children. 
  • Length of time on homework is an inaccurate measure, as it only considers the quantity of work given and not the quality. Not everyone works at the same pace, under the same conditions, with the same resources. (Earp, 2017). 
  • Homework can reduce the amount of time available to pursue other activities that may have greater long term benefits (Eren and Henderson 2011).
  • Interactive homework approaches, where a child and parent complete an activity together, can increase the meaningfulness for students and their families, and improve academic outcomes. (Wilder 2013).
  • Homework can have the effect of helping a parent understand the progress of the child, and can make parent-teacher interviews more meaningful (Horsely and Walker 2013).​

Summary

It is generally agreed that homework in the primary years provides limited academic benefit, however it can be helpful to parents as a monitoring tool. Opportunities for interaction – such as reading to and with a child, or games and activities that encourage discussion and collaborative problem solving, are far more effective ways to improve student outcomes. Time spent on homework should not be excessive, as pursuing other activities and interests can be more beneficial in the long term. Homework becomes increasingly more relevant as a student moves into high school, and can be helpful when transitioning students into secondary.

Suggested Readings

Earp, J. (2014) Does Homework Contribute to Student Success? Teacher Magazine.
From: https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/does-homework-contribute-to-student-success

​Reilly, K. (2016) Is Homework Good For Kids? Here's What the Research Says. Time Magazine. 
From: http://time.com/4466390/homework-debate-research/

Merga, M. (2016) Research Shows the Importance of Parents Reading With Children, Even After Children Can Read. The Conversation.
From: https://theconversation.com/research-shows-the-importance-of-parents-reading-with-children-even-after-children-can-read-82756

Baker, F. The Great Homework Debate. Kidspot.
From: http://www.kidspot.com.au/school/primary/homework/the-great-homework-debate/news-story/1a16b9d962f507c4b84aff89b977b8c3