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

Putting modern childhood under the spotlight

The International Festival of Childhood, planned for later this year, aims to examine the issues affecting modern childhood. The evidence suggests... [more]

Domestic Report: Sweden

Waldorfskolefederationen started in the 80ies. Today most schools are members of the Swedish federation (Waldorfskolefederationen). In the early... [more]

New Zealand Waldorf schools get off lightly after earthquake

After the massive earthquake a week ago, Waldorf schools are thankful that they suffered comparatively little damage – in contrast to the 2011... [more]

The Powerful Force of Curiosity

Curiosity killed the cat. Eve was curious about the forbidden fruit. Pandora was curious about what was in that box. [more]

How do children learn empathy?

Empathy, the ability to understand others and feel compassion for them, is arguably the most defining human quality – setting us apart from smart... [more]

For creativity, capability and resilience, Steiner schools work

Steiner education is a popular choice of alternative schooling in Australia, with more than 40 schools country-wide. Along with other alternatives to... [more]

Waldorf education in Switzerland

In Switzerland 4.2 percent or 38.231 students attend private schools for their compulsory schooling (grades 1-9). In 2013-14 there were 28 Waldorf /... [more]

Waldorf education in Spain

At an educational level Spain is going through a special situation. Over the last four years Spain had a government which imposed a new educational... [more]

Waldorf education in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) was founded 1953 with 7 members: Elmfield (Stourbridge), Michael Hall (Forest Row), Michael House... [more]

A look toward Agri-Culture of the Future

Demeter International Members’ Assembly held in Finland adopts mission paper. [more]

Displaying results 31 to 40 out of 126

< Previous

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Next >

Follow