24 Aug 2016

Is Homework Counterproductive?

Is Homework Counterproductive?

Is homework counterproductive to student learning?  A teacher’s letter to parents about removing homework from her instructional practice has gone viral and was reported in the Huffington Post by Elyse Wanshel.  To be specific, the teacher’s letter states the only homework assigned will be the work that was started in class that the student did not finish.

The parent letter vaguely references research but also specifically states spending time as a family and getting appropriate levels of rest are more beneficial to a student’s academic success than homework.  The letter made public the question parents have asked each other for years- is homework counterproductive?

If you are a parent you can relate to the fact that one of the greatest causes of stress at home is centered around your child’s frustration with homework.  Often children are frustrated because some homework appears to be a unsupervised introductory exercise of a new topic.  This type of homework leads to understandable frustration in the child which spills over to the home and arguably the classroom.

As a parent have you ever heard your child claim that homework is not graded but they are expected to complete it anyway?  Have you heard your child claim that homework is given an automatic zero grade if not turned in, turned in late or not completed 100%?  Again, this begs the question the benefit of this homework assignment.  Is the purpose to grade student compliance, to have grades in the gradebook or is it really an exercise to enforce the instructional concepts taught in class?

As a parent have you ever heard your child refer to homework as busywork?  If your child is saying this what is their impression of the value of the homework assignment to their learning?

As a parent have you participated in parent-teacher conferences where a typical talking point is your child’s homework completion instead of how the homework shows the level of your child’s understanding of the topics?

So the root question is this- is homework counterproductive to student learning?  A more fair question should be what type of homework is a productive exercise in increasing your child’s connection of concepts and critical thinking skills development?  If there are homework practices that do not support this goal they should be eliminated as they are counterproductive to learning and student’s attitudes about school.




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