How Many Benefits Does Homework Actually Have?

What is too much homework? - photograph by Snufkin via pixabay.com - CC0 license

BY COLIN WELCOME

There has long been a debate about how much of an impact homework actually has on a student’s academic performance.

Many argue that homework is a good tool to help students develop necessary life skills. Others have argued that homework causes too much stress in students and can lead to negative health effects. So, which side is correct?

The answer is both. There is a certain amount of homework a student should receive based on the grade level he or she is in. According to Harris Cooper, a researcher at Duke University, this is determined by the 10-minute rule, which states that the total amount of homework a student should receive per night is equal to their grade level multiplied by 10. So a fourth grader, for instance, should receive about 40 minutes of homework whereas a twelfth grader should receive about 120 minutes of homework.

However, should the amount of homework assigned exceed or fall too far below the appropriate limit, there can be consequences.

The biggest argument in support of homework is that it can directly and indirectly help students develop important life skills and qualities. The four qualities that are said to arise in a student due to homework in part are responsibility, good time management, perseverance, and self-esteem.

The reasoning behind the build-up of perseverance is that it is a result when when students have a drive to get their homework done. Self-esteem is built when a student accomplishes a regular task, such as completing homework. Time management is learned through understanding how much time homework may take and how a student should best construct their own schedule. Responsibility is learned because a student understands that there is a task to be accomplished, and they have to make their own decisions about completing it.

Arguments that are more related to the academic benefits include the idea that homework gives the student practice, and that the students are prepared for their following classes.

However, more is not always merrier. Just like the fact that too little homework is not good, too much homework also has its downsides.

According to Richard Walker, an educational psychologist at Sydney University, students in countries with larger homework loads generally score lower on certain standardized tests.

One point those opposed to homework like to bring up is Finland’s education system. For the past decade, Finland has been recognized as one of the top educational systems in the world. What catches the interest of people who oppose homework is just how much more freedom and comfortability Finnish students have in their school environment. This includes less school hours, more recess, and yes, much less homework than the average U.S. student.

Other characteristics about Finland’s educational system that can be attributed to its success is that they have better standardized tests, free college, and more rigorous requirements for someone to become a teacher. However, one of the most prominent ideas is that having less schoolwork and homework allows more time for recess, which therefore gives the mind a break and reduces stress. A 2014 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported that, on average, 15-year-old Finnish students receive 2.8 hours of homework weekly as opposed to 6.1 hours per week for American students.

While both sides have persuasive arguments, the truth lies in the middle. Homework may be necessary, but there is a limit on how much homework a student should be receiving. This limit is the best possible balance between developing necessary life skills and avoiding stress and anxiety.