|Parents and Learning (IAE - IBE, 2000, 36 p.)|
Students learn best when homework is assigned regularly, graded, returned promptly, and used primarily to rehearse material first presented by the teacher at school.
Homework, properly utilized by teachers, produces an effect on learning three times as large as family socio-economic status. Homework is effective in student mastery of facts and concepts as well as critical thinking and formation of productive attitudes and habits. Homework has compensatory effects in that students of lower ability can achieve marks equal to those of higher ability students through increased study at home. Homework is also a significant factor in differences in achievement test scores.
In addition to its positive effect on academic achievement, homework:
· establishes the habit of studying in the home;
· prepares the student for independent learning;
· can be a focal point of constructive family interaction;
· allows the parents to see what the student is learning in school;
· competes with televiewing rather than with constructive activities in most homes;
· extends formal learning beyond the school day;
· enables the student to reflect on material and become more intimately familiar with it than is often allowed in a busy, sometimes distracting school setting; and
· provides the teacher with a frequent check on the students progress.
Research is helpful in establishing expectations for teachers in the effective use of homework. A study of the effectiveness of homework in mathematics, for example, concluded the following:
· required homework is more effective than voluntary homework;
· having no homework assigned at one grade level adversely affects performance at subsequent grade levels; and
· homework is most effective when returned promptly by the teacher with comments and a grade.
Other studies attest to the importance of the teacher grading and placing written comments on homework. Daily homework assignments have been found superior to less frequent assignments.
The effects of homework do not increase proportionately with the amount assigned, but rather with the frequency (or regularity) of its assignment, the nature of the assignment, and the teachers attention to the students work. Homework is most effective when it is:
· directly related to in-class work;
· used to master rather than introduce new material;
· graded and included as a significant part of the report card grade; and
· returned to the student soon after it is collected, and marked with comments particular to the student.
Schools facilitate parents, students and teachers in their efforts with homework by establishing a school-wide standard for frequency and quantity of homework. For example, some schools expect about ten minutes of homework each school night for first-graders, and elevate the expectations by an additional ten minutes for each year of school. This is a good way to gradually and consistently develop homework habits.
References: Austin (1976); Elawar & Corno (1985); Keith (1982); Page (1958); Page & Keith (1981); Paschel, Weinstein & Walberg (1984); Walberg (1984).