While procrastinating on a Biochem problemset, I ran across this interesting article published in Education Week that I think sums up what many of us think about homework: It’s just not that useful. The article explains how most studies barely have any correlation between homework and test scores in high school, and in fact a negative correlation for students in elementary school. In the 1994 and 1999 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study featuring data from 50 countries, researches stated:
“Not only did we fail to find any positive relationships,” but “the overall correlations between national average student achievement and national averages in [amount of homework assigned] are all negative.”
Yet we keep assigning it in our schools and the amount has been steadily increasing in the past number of years. The article tries to explain this phenomenon with the idea that “homework = practice = learning”. But we’ve all experienced those moments when doing stupid worksheets and extra problems where we think “this is not teaching me ANYTHING”.
“Supporters of homework rarely look at things from the student’s point of view, though; instead, kids are regarded as inert objects to be acted on: Make them practice and they’ll get better. My argument isn’t just that this viewpoint is disrespectful, or that it’s a residue of an outdated stimulus-response psychology. I’m also suggesting it’s counterproductive. Children cannot be made to acquire skills. They aren’t vending machines such that we put in more homework and get out more learning.”
What do you think – is homework valuable?
The Truth about Homework