More than two hours of homework may be counterproductive

By Clifton B. Parker, March 2014

A Stanford education researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.

"Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," wrote Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education.

The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students' views on homework.

Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.

"The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students' advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being," Pope wrote.

Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.

Their study found that too much homework is associated with:

• Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

• Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.

• Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were "not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills," according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.

A balancing act

The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as "pointless" or "mindless" in order to keep their grades up.

"This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points," said Pope.

Pope said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.

"Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development," wrote Pope.

High-performing paradox

In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. "Young people are spending more time alone," they wrote, "which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities."

Source: Stanford Graduate School of Education

All news in this category

Every cloud has a silver lining – the future of Steiner Schools in England

Many Steiner schools in England have come in for serious criticism of their practices in recent inspections by the schools inspectorate Ofsted.... [more]

Teheran: First International Congress on Education and Health

The University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran organized a congress from 19 to 21 June 2018 with many contributions from... [more]

Hyderabad/India: Waldorf is booming

Waldorf Education is very popular in India – applications to the seven schools and more than 25 kindergartens are constantly increasing. No wonder.  [more]

São Paolo: teacher training center becomes a university

The teacher training center in São Paolo has been around for 40 years. Many Brazilian Waldorf teachers are trained here (sometimes also teachers from... [more]

Domestic report: The Netherlands

The first Waldorf school was founded in 1923 in The Hague. Amsterdam and Zeist followed in 1933. In the 1970s there was a strong growth in the number... [more]

Domestic report: Italy

While the number and distribution of Waldorf Steiner schools and kindergartens in Italy has not changed noticeably in the last years, there has been... [more]

Transforming Ownership to Create a Better Economy

Private ownership of companies drives our economic system but it has also created corporations that put profit above everything else, a divided... [more]

Why write? Penmanship for the 21st Century

What is the future of writing in the digital age, and why does it matter? In this surprising talk, Master Penman Jake Weidmann explores the... [more]

Polyhedric educational experiences

The main focus of this video is the recent development of the upper classes of the Scuola Novalis. The Libera Scuola Steiner-Waldorf “Novalis” is... [more]

Having 28 daughters. Waldorf Education in India

An interview with Manorama Kamineni, Sloka Waldorf School Hyderabad. [more]

Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 121

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Next >

Follow