How Can Homework Enhance Learning
Schools are sidelining homework from their curriculum, stating research has not been able to prove that it enhances learning. While you might want to agree with them, let’s look at it from a different angle.
What if teachers need to assign a different kind of homework? Maybe there would be a significant change and visible proof that homework does boost student’s learning.
A second-grade teacher in 2016 announced that she won’t give out homework to her students. This announcement was a delight to her student and some of their parents. She further explained the reason for her action stating research has not been able to prove that assignments improve student’s performance.
In 2017, the superintendent of a Florida school district serving over 42,000 students also eliminated homework and replaced it with 20 minutes of reading every night.
Many other schools have also quietly subscribed to similar policies. Critics have also objected that even if homework won’t increase test scores, It also has other advantages. For example, like helping students develop a good study habit and teaching them how to manage their time effectively.
These arguments lead us to the question, why doesn’t homework seem to boost learning? Psychologists have identified different strategies that aid students’ learning. Many of these strategies are ideal for homework.
An example of one of these strategies is called retrieval practice. It means trying to recall the information you have learned. The best time to engage in retrieval practice is sometime after when you acquired the knowledge when you have forgotten it a little, perhaps after school.
Homework would require students to answer questions about what they were taught in school without having to consult their notes. Research has found this strategy to be far more effective than just merely reviewing or rereading the summary.
One likely explanation as to why homework doesn’t seem to boost learning is that most teachers have little or no training on how and why they should assign homework to students. As a result, most of the homework teachers assign to their students is not practical for the student.
Another reason why homework might not boost students’ performance is because of parental help. Parental help with homework would not promote learning but instead, hurt students’ performance.
Likewise, most students do not have the right environment, which allows them to do their homework effectively.
In essence, rather than giving up on homework, teachers could assign a different kind of homework. School should also provide a suitable environment which would allow the students to do their homework effectively.
Another argument against assignments is that it makes students feel stressed and overburdened, which is not good for their mental health. Some others argue that students in low grade do not need homework; they just need time to relax after a long day at school.
This suggestion contradicts the ten-minute rule recommended by researchers. The rule states that 1st graders should get 10mins of homework. 2nd graders should get 20mins of homework, and so on.
This homework model still leaves enough time for children to relax and even has a significant impact on the students’ performance.
If we want to harness the potentials of homework to students fully, we have to educate our teachers on how, why, and what kind of homework they should assign to their students. Likewise, we have to start teaching the habit of doing assignments in kids as early as possible.