|Effective Educational Practices (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 2000, 24 p.)|
Students learn more when they complete homework that is graded, commented upon and discussed by their teachers.
A synthesis of more than a dozen studies of the effects of homework in various subjects showed that the assignment and completion of homework yield positive effects on academic achievement. The effects are almost tripled when teachers take time to grade the work, make corrections and specific comments on improvements that can be made, and discuss problems and solutions with individual students or the whole class. Homework also seems particularly effective in secondary school.
In the classroom
Among developed countries, the United States has the least number of school days because of the long summer vacation. Students also spend less time, on average, doing homework. Extending homework time is a proven way to lengthen study time and increase achievement, although the quality of the assignments and of the completed work are also important.
Like a three-legged stool, homework requires a teacher to assign it and provide feedback, a parent to monitor it and a student to do it. If one leg is weak, the stool may fall down. The role of the teacher in providing feedback - in reinforcing what has been done correctly and in re-teaching what has not - is the key to maximizing the positive impact of homework.
Districts and schools that have well-known homework policies for daily minutes of required work are likely to reap benefits. Homework 'hotlines' in which students may call in for help have proved useful. To relieve some of the workload of grading, teachers can employ procedures in which students grade their own and other students' work. In this way, they can learn co-operative social skills and how to evaluate their own and others' efforts.
The quality of homework is as important as the amount. Effective homework is relevant to the lessons to be learned and in keeping with students' abilities.
References: Paschal, Weinstein & Walberg, 1984; Stevenson, Lee & Stigler, 1986; Walberg, 1984, 1994; Walberg & Haertel, 1997.