what is homework made for

The History of Homework: Why Was it Invented and Who Was Behind It?

  • By Emily Summers
  • February 14, 2020

Homework is long-standing education staple, one that many students hate with a fiery passion. We can’t really blame them, especially if it’s a primary source of stress that can result in headaches, exhaustion, and lack of sleep.

It’s not uncommon for students, parents, and even some teachers to complain about bringing assignments home. Yet, for millions of children around the world, homework is still a huge part of their daily lives as students — even if it continues to be one of their biggest causes of stress and unrest.

It makes one wonder, who in their right mind would invent such a thing as homework?

Who Invented Homework?

Pliny the younger: when in ancient rome, horace mann: the father of modern homework, the history of homework in america, 1900s: anti-homework sentiment & homework bans, 1930: homework as child labor, early-to-mid 20th century: homework and the progressive era, the cold war: homework starts heating up, 1980s: homework in a nation at risk, early 21 st century, state of homework today: why is it being questioned, should students get homework pros of cons of bringing school work home.

Guy stressed with homework

Online, there are many articles that point to Roberto Nevilis as the first educator to give his students homework. He created it as a way to punish his lazy students and ensure that they fully learned their lessons. However, these pieces of information mostly come from obscure educational blogs or forum websites with questionable claims. No credible news source or website has ever mentioned the name Roberto Nevilis as the person who invented homework . In fact, it’s possible that Nevilis never even existed.

As we’re not entirely sure who to credit for creating the bane of students’ existence and the reasons why homework was invented, we can use a few historical trivia to help narrow down our search.

Mentions of the term “homework” date back to as early as ancient Rome. In I century AD, Pliny the Younger , an oratory teacher, supposedly invented homework by asking his followers to practice public speaking at home. It was to help them become more confident and fluent in their speeches. But some would argue that the assignment wasn’t exactly the type of written work that students have to do at home nowadays. Only introverted individuals with a fear of public speaking would find it difficult and stressful.

It’s also safe to argue that since homework is an integral part of education, it’s probable that it has existed since the dawn of learning, like a beacon of light to all those helpless and lost (or to cast darkness on those who despise it). This means that Romans, Enlightenment philosophers, and Middle Age monks all read, memorized, and sang pieces well before homework was given any definition. It’s harder to play the blame game this way unless you want to point your finger at Horace Mann.

In the 19 th century, Horace Mann , a politician and educational reformer had a strong interest in the compulsory public education system of Germany as a newly unified nation-state. Pupils attending the Volksschulen or “People’s Schools” were given mandatory assignments that they needed to complete at home during their own time. This requirement emphasized the state’s power over individuals at a time when nationalists such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte were rallying support for a unified German state. Basically, the state used homework as an element of power play.

Despite its political origins, the system of bringing school assignments home spread across Europe and eventually found their way to Horace Mann, who was in Prussia at that time. He brought the system home with him to America where homework became a daily activity in the lives of students.

Despite homework being a near-universal part of the American educational experience today, it hasn’t always been universally accepted. Take a look at its turbulent history in America.

In 1901, just a few decades after Horace Mann introduced the concept to Americans, homework was banned in the Pacific state of California . The ban affected students younger than 15 years old and stayed in effect until 1917.

Around the same time, prominent publications such as The New York Times and Ladies’ Home Journal published statements from medical professionals and parents who stated that homework was detrimental to children’s health.

In 1930, the American Child Health Association declared homework as a type of child labor . Since laws against child labor had been passed recently during that time, the proclamation painted homework as unacceptable educational practice, making everyone wonder why homework was invented in the first place.

However, it’s keen to note that one of the reasons why homework was so frowned upon was because children were needed to help out with household chores (a.k.a. a less intensive and more socially acceptable form of child labor).

During the progressive education reforms of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, educators started looking for ways to make homework assignments more personal and relevant to the interests of individual students. Maybe this was how immortal essay topics such as “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” and “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” were born.

After World War II, the Cold War heated up rivalries between the U.S. and Russia. Sputnik 1’s launch in 1957 intensified the competition between Americans and Russians – including their youth.

Education authorities in the U.S. decided that implementing rigorous homework to American students of all ages was the best way to ensure that they were always one step ahead of their Russian counterparts, especially in the competitive fields of Math and Science.

In 1986, the U.S. Department of Education’s pamphlet, “What Works,” included homework as one of the effective strategies to boost the quality of education. This came three years after the National Commission on Excellence in Education published “ Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform .” The landmark report lambasted the state of America’s schools, calling for reforms to right the alarming direction that public education was headed.

Today, many educators, students, parents, and other concerned citizens have once again started questioning why homework was invented and if it’s still valuable.

Homework now is facing major backlash around the world. With more than 60% of high school and college students seeking counselling for conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety, all of which are brought about by school, it’s safe to say that American students are more stressed out than they should be.

After sitting through hours at school, they leave only to start on a mountain pile of homework. Not only does it take up a large chunk of time that they can otherwise spend on their hobbies and interests, it also stops them from getting enough sleep. This can lead to students experiencing physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from their peers and society in general.

Is homework important and necessary ? Or is it doing more harm than good? Here some key advantages and disadvantages to consider.

  • It encourages the discipline of practice

Using the same formula or memorizing the same information over and over can be difficult and boring, but it reinforces the practice of discipline. To master a skill, repetition is often needed. By completing homework every night, specifically with difficult subjects, the concepts become easier to understand, helping students polish their skills and achieve their life goals.

  • It teaches students to manage their time

Homework goes beyond just completing tasks. It encourages children to develop their skills in time management as schedules need to be organized to ensure that all tasks can be completed within the day.

  • It provides more time for students to complete their learning process

The time allotted for each subject in school is often limited to 1 hour or less per day. That’s not enough time for students to grasp the material and core concepts of each subject. By creating specific homework assignments, it becomes possible for students to make up for the deficiencies in time.

  • It discourages creative endeavors

If a student spends 3-5 hours a day on homework, those are 3-5 hours that they can’t use to pursue creative passions. Students might like to read leisurely or take up new hobbies but homework takes away their time from painting, learning an instrument, or developing new skills.

  • Homework is typically geared toward benchmarks

Teachers often assign homework to improve students’ test scores. Although this can result in positive outcomes such as better study habits, the fact is that when students feel tired, they won’t likely absorb as much information. Their stress levels will go up and they’ll feel the curriculum burnout.

  • No evidence that homework creates improvements

Research shows that homework doesn’t improve academic performance ; it can even make it worse. Homework creates a negative attitude towards schooling and education, making students dread going to their classes. If they don’t like attending their lessons, they will be unmotivated to listen to the discussions.

With all of the struggles that students face each day due to homework, it’s puzzling to understand why it was even invented. However, whether you think it’s helpful or not, just because the concept has survived for centuries doesn’t mean that it has to stay within the educational system.

Not all students care about the history of homework, but they all do care about the future of their educational pursuits. Maybe one day, homework will be fully removed from the curriculum of schools all over the world but until that day comes, students will have to burn the midnight oil to pass their requirements on time and hopefully achieve their own versions of success.

About the Author

Emily summers.

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Who Really Invented Homework

what is homework made for

What Is Homework?

Homework is work that teachers give students to complete outside of the school day. Homework is meant to provide students with practice for what was learned in school or an extension of what was done in class. Students are expected to complete the homework and return to school with the completed homework assignment.

Why Do Teachers Give Homework?

Most teachers give students homework so that they can practice something that was taught to them during class.

For example, if a teacher is teaching students how to add decimal numbers then the homework assignment would be for students to try adding decimals at home independently.

In my science class I never give my students homework that isn’t meaningful or practice towards a learning standard.

Gone are the days of giving homework that is “busy work”.

Also, when students return the following day their homework assignment is incorporated into the lesson so they quickly figure out that completing homework is necessary.

Some teachers, myself included, will use homework as a formative assessment.

If you are unsure what formative assessments are then you need to check out this article I wrote recently.

what is homework made for

What Does Homework Look Like?

Homework can be almost anything.

Some examples of homework may include a simple worksheet to complete, a long term project, research, reading, a journal entry, completing something online, a drawing, or the continuation of something started in school, and just about anything else.

Homework isn’t limited to one specific thing.

With my eight grade students I have assigned videos for them to watch, creating a slideshow, completing a CER (more about the CER here) , conduct a survey for data collection, and more.

I have even had them collect leaves to identify the following day in our science class!

If you are a teacher reading this make sure to make your homework assignments interesting and worthwhile, don’t just assign homework as busy work.

Do Teachers Have To Give Homework?

No, teachers don’t have to give homework.

Usually teachers have discretion whether or not they are going to assign homework.

Personally, the principal or school district I work for has no idea how often I assign homework or what I assign for homework.

This decision to give or not give homework solely comes down to the classroom teacher.

The Importance Of Homework

The importance of homework is a heavily debated topic these days.

On one hand you have teachers that will say it is necessary that students continue learning outside the classroom in order to be more successful inside the classroom.

On the other hand some teachers will say that homework isn’t necessary as long as students are working hard during the school day.

Another reason homework is seen as not necessary is because students these days are so busy out of school that they don’t have time to complete homework.

Who is right?

I’d say it’s probably somewhere in the middle.

There is nothing wrong with a little homework for students but it shouldn’t be assigned every night.

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I (Allen) am currently teaching at a public school in a western suburb of Chicago. My teaching career started in 2004. Some of my interests outside of teaching is being with my family, biking, playing video games, travelling, and making the Teacher Adviser website.

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Does homework really work?

by: Leslie Crawford | Updated: December 12, 2023

Print article

Does homework help

You know the drill. It’s 10:15 p.m., and the cardboard-and-toothpick Golden Gate Bridge is collapsing. The pages of polynomials have been abandoned. The paper on the Battle of Waterloo seems to have frozen in time with Napoleon lingering eternally over his breakfast at Le Caillou. Then come the tears and tantrums — while we parents wonder, Does the gain merit all this pain? Is this just too much homework?

However the drama unfolds night after night, year after year, most parents hold on to the hope that homework (after soccer games, dinner, flute practice, and, oh yes, that childhood pastime of yore known as playing) advances their children academically.

But what does homework really do for kids? Is the forest’s worth of book reports and math and spelling sheets the average American student completes in their 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? Or is it just busywork?

Homework haterz

Whether or not homework helps, or even hurts, depends on who you ask. If you ask my 12-year-old son, Sam, he’ll say, “Homework doesn’t help anything. It makes kids stressed-out and tired and makes them hate school more.”

Nothing more than common kid bellyaching?

Maybe, but in the fractious field of homework studies, it’s worth noting that Sam’s sentiments nicely synopsize one side of the ivory tower debate. Books like The End of Homework , The Homework Myth , and The Case Against Homework the film Race to Nowhere , and the anguished parent essay “ My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me ” make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.

One Canadian couple took their homework apostasy all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. After arguing that there was no evidence that it improved academic performance, they won a ruling that exempted their two children from all homework.

So what’s the real relationship between homework and academic achievement?

How much is too much?

To answer this question, researchers have been doing their homework on homework, conducting and examining hundreds of studies. Chris Drew Ph.D., founder and editor at The Helpful Professor recently compiled multiple statistics revealing the folly of today’s after-school busy work. Does any of the data he listed below ring true for you?

• 45 percent of parents think homework is too easy for their child, primarily because it is geared to the lowest standard under the Common Core State Standards .

• 74 percent of students say homework is a source of stress , defined as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

• Students in high-performing high schools spend an average of 3.1 hours a night on homework , even though 1 to 2 hours is the optimal duration, according to a peer-reviewed study .

Not included in the list above is the fact many kids have to abandon activities they love — like sports and clubs — because homework deprives them of the needed time to enjoy themselves with other pursuits.

Conversely, The Helpful Professor does list a few pros of homework, noting it teaches discipline and time management, and helps parents know what’s being taught in the class.

The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is listed on the National Education Association’s website and the National Parent Teacher Association’s website , but few schools follow this rule.

Do you think your child is doing excessive homework? Harris Cooper Ph.D., author of a meta-study on homework , recommends talking with the teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.” Also, Cooper suggests taking a careful look at how your child is doing the assignments. It may seem like they’re taking two hours, but maybe your child is wandering off frequently to get a snack or getting distracted.

Less is often more

If your child is dutifully doing their work but still burning the midnight oil, it’s worth intervening to make sure your child gets enough sleep. A 2012 study of 535 high school students found that proper sleep may be far more essential to brain and body development.

For elementary school-age children, Cooper’s research at Duke University shows there is no measurable academic advantage to homework. For middle-schoolers, Cooper found there is a direct correlation between homework and achievement if assignments last between one to two hours per night. After two hours, however, achievement doesn’t improve. For high schoolers, Cooper’s research suggests that two hours per night is optimal. If teens have more than two hours of homework a night, their academic success flatlines. But less is not better. The average high school student doing homework outperformed 69 percent of the students in a class with no homework.

Many schools are starting to act on this research. A Florida superintendent abolished homework in her 42,000 student district, replacing it with 20 minutes of nightly reading. She attributed her decision to “ solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students .”

More family time

A 2020 survey by Crayola Experience reports 82 percent of children complain they don’t have enough quality time with their parents. Homework deserves much of the blame. “Kids should have a chance to just be kids and do things they enjoy, particularly after spending six hours a day in school,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth . “It’s absurd to insist that children must be engaged in constructive activities right up until their heads hit the pillow.”

By far, the best replacement for homework — for both parents and children — is bonding, relaxing time together.

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History Cooperative

The Homework Dilemma: Who Invented Homework?

The inventor of homework may be unknown, but its evolution reflects contributions from educators, philosophers, and students. Homework reinforces learning, fosters discipline, and prepares students for the future, spanning from ancient civilizations to modern education. Ongoing debates probe its balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility, prompting innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning. As education evolves, the enigma of homework endures.

Table of Contents

Who Invented Homework?

While historical records don’t provide a definitive answer regarding the inventor of homework in the modern sense, two prominent figures, Roberto Nevelis of Venice and Horace Mann, are often linked to the concept’s early development.

Roberto Nevelis of Venice: A Mythical Innovator?

Roberto Nevelis, a Venetian educator from the 16th century, is frequently credited with the invention of homework. The story goes that Nevelis assigned tasks to his students outside regular classroom hours to reinforce their learning—a practice that aligns with the essence of homework. However, the historical evidence supporting Nevelis as the inventor of homework is rather elusive, leaving room for skepticism.

While Nevelis’s role remains somewhat mythical, his association with homework highlights the early recognition of the concept’s educational value.

Horace Mann: Shaping the American Educational Landscape

Horace Mann, often regarded as the “Father of American Education,” made significant contributions to the American public school system in the 19th century. Though he may not have single-handedly invented homework, his educational reforms played a crucial role in its widespread adoption.

Mann’s vision for education emphasized discipline and rigor, which included assigning tasks to be completed outside of the classroom. While he did not create homework in the traditional sense, his influence on the American education system paved the way for its integration.

The invention of homework was driven by several educational objectives. It aimed to reinforce classroom learning, ensuring knowledge retention and skill development. Homework also served as a means to promote self-discipline and responsibility among students, fostering valuable study habits and time management skills.

Why Was Homework Invented?

The invention of homework was not a random educational practice but rather a deliberate strategy with several essential objectives in mind.

Reinforcing Classroom Learning

Foremost among these objectives was the need to reinforce classroom learning. When students leave the classroom, the goal is for them to retain and apply the knowledge they have acquired during their lessons. Homework emerged as a powerful tool for achieving this goal. It provided students with a structured platform to revisit the day’s lessons, practice what they had learned, and solidify their understanding.

Homework assignments often mirrored classroom activities, allowing students to extend their learning beyond the confines of school hours. Through the repetition of exercises and tasks related to the curriculum, students could deepen their comprehension and mastery of various subjects.

Fostering Self-Discipline and Responsibility

Another significant objective behind the creation of homework was the promotion of self-discipline and responsibility among students. Education has always been about more than just the acquisition of knowledge; it also involves the development of life skills and habits that prepare individuals for future challenges.

By assigning tasks to be completed independently at home, educators aimed to instill valuable study habits and time management skills. Students were expected to take ownership of their learning, manage their time effectively, and meet deadlines—a set of skills that have enduring relevance in contemporary education and beyond.

Homework encouraged students to become proactive in their educational journey. It taught them the importance of accountability and the satisfaction of completing tasks on their own. These life skills would prove invaluable in their future endeavors, both academically and in the broader context of their lives.

When Was Homework Invented?

The roots of homework stretch deep into the annals of history, tracing its origins to ancient civilizations and early educational practices. While it has undergone significant evolution over the centuries, the concept of extending learning beyond the classroom has always been an integral part of education.

Earliest Origins of Homework and Early Educational Practices

The idea of homework, in its most rudimentary form, can be traced back to the earliest human civilizations. In ancient Egypt , for instance, students were tasked with hieroglyphic writing exercises. These exercises served as a precursor to modern homework, as they required students to practice and reinforce their understanding of written language—an essential skill for communication and record-keeping in that era.

In ancient Greece , luminaries like Plato and Aristotle advocated for the use of written exercises as a tool for intellectual development. They recognized the value of practice in enhancing one’s knowledge and skills, laying the foundation for a more systematic approach to homework.

The ancient Romans also played a pivotal role in the early development of homework. Young Roman students were expected to complete assignments at home, with a particular focus on subjects like mathematics and literature. These assignments were designed to consolidate their classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of practice in mastering various disciplines.

READ MORE: Who Invented Math? The History of Mathematics

The practice of assigning work to be done outside of regular school hours continued to evolve through various historical periods. As societies advanced, so did the complexity and diversity of homework tasks, reflecting the changing needs and priorities of education.

The Influence of Educational Philosophers

While the roots of homework extend to ancient times, the ideas of renowned educational philosophers in later centuries further contributed to its development. John Locke, an influential thinker of the Enlightenment era, believed in a gradual and cumulative approach to learning. He emphasized the importance of students revisiting topics through repetition and practice, a concept that aligns with the principles of homework.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, another prominent philosopher, stressed the significance of self-directed learning. Rousseau’s ideas encouraged the development of independent study habits and a personalized approach to education—a philosophy that resonates with modern concepts of homework.

Homework in the American Public School System

The American public school system has played a pivotal role in the widespread adoption and popularization of homework. To understand the significance of homework in modern education, it’s essential to delve into its history and evolution within the United States.

History and Evolution of Homework in the United States

The late 19th century marked a significant turning point for homework in the United States. During this period, influenced by educational reforms and the growing need for standardized curricula, homework assignments began to gain prominence in American schools.

Educational reformers and policymakers recognized the value of homework as a tool for reinforcing classroom learning. They believed that assigning tasks for students to complete outside of regular school hours would help ensure that knowledge was retained and skills were honed. This approach aligned with the broader trends in education at the time, which aimed to provide a more structured and systematic approach to learning.

As the American public school system continued to evolve, homework assignments became a common practice in classrooms across the nation. The standardization of curricula and the formalization of education contributed to the integration of homework into the learning process. This marked a significant departure from earlier educational practices, reflecting a shift toward more structured and comprehensive learning experiences.

The incorporation of homework into the American education system not only reinforced classroom learning but also fostered self-discipline and responsibility among students. It encouraged them to take ownership of their educational journey and develop valuable study habits and time management skills—a legacy that continues to influence modern pedagogy.

Controversies Around Homework

Despite its longstanding presence in education, homework has not been immune to controversy and debate. While many view it as a valuable educational tool, others question its effectiveness and impact on students’ well-being.

The Homework Debate

One of the central controversies revolves around the amount of homework assigned to students. Critics argue that excessive homework loads can lead to stress, sleep deprivation, and a lack of free time for students. The debate often centers on striking the right balance between homework and other aspects of a student’s life, including extracurricular activities, family time, and rest.

Homework’s Efficacy

Another contentious issue pertains to the efficacy of homework in enhancing learning outcomes. Some studies suggest that moderate amounts of homework can reinforce classroom learning and improve academic performance. However, others question whether all homework assignments contribute equally to learning or whether some may be more beneficial than others. The effectiveness of homework can vary depending on factors such as the student’s grade level, the subject matter, and the quality of the assignment.

Equity and Accessibility

Homework can also raise concerns related to equity and accessibility. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have limited access to resources and support at home, potentially putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to completing homework assignments. This disparity has prompted discussions about the role of homework in perpetuating educational inequalities and how schools can address these disparities.

Alternative Approaches to Learning

In response to the controversies surrounding homework, educators and researchers have explored alternative approaches to learning. These approaches aim to strike a balance between reinforcing classroom learning and promoting holistic student well-being. Some alternatives include:

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning emphasizes hands-on, collaborative projects that allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. This approach shifts the focus from traditional homework assignments to engaging, practical learning experiences.

Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms reverse the traditional teaching model. Students learn new material at home through video lectures or readings and then use class time for interactive discussions and activities. This approach reduces the need for traditional homework while promoting active learning.

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning tailors instruction to individual students’ needs, allowing them to progress at their own pace. This approach minimizes the need for one-size-fits-all homework assignments and instead focuses on targeted learning experiences.

The Ongoing Conversation

The controversies surrounding homework highlight the need for an ongoing conversation about its role in education. Striking the right balance between reinforcing learning and addressing students’ well-being remains a complex challenge. As educators, parents, and researchers continue to explore innovative approaches to learning, the role of homework in the modern educational landscape continues to evolve. Ultimately, the goal is to provide students with the most effective and equitable learning experiences possible.

Unpacking the Homework Enigma

Homework, without a single inventor, has evolved through educators, philosophers, and students. It reinforces learning, fosters discipline and prepares students. From ancient times to modern education, it upholds timeless values. Yet, controversies arise—debates on balance, efficacy, equity, and accessibility persist. Innovative alternatives like project-based and personalized learning emerge. Homework’s role evolves with education.

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Wonderopolis

Wonder of the Day #1385

Why Do We Have Homework?

Wonderopolis

SCIENCE — Health and Fitness

Have You Ever Wondered...

  • Why do we have homework?
  • What are the benefits of homework?
  • Is there such a thing as too much homework?
  • classroom ,
  • education ,
  • knowledge ,
  • mathematics ,
  • prioritization ,
  • repetition ,
  • responsibility ,
  • time management ,
  • Classroom ,
  • Education ,
  • Knowledge ,
  • Mathematics ,
  • Prioritization ,
  • Repetition ,
  • Responsibility ,
  • Time Management

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Nicolas from fort lauderdale, FL. Nicolas Wonders , “ Who invented homework? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Nicolas!

What has eight letters and strikes fear into the hearts of students around the world? No, it's not broccoli, but that was a good guess! Give up? HOMEWORK !

Did you just gasp in fear and anguish ? We're sorry, but homework is a fact of life and it's time we took a closer look at it. Even though it might get in the way of playing outside or watching your favorite television show, it's necessary and, believe it or not, good for you!

Homework creates a bridge between school and home. Parents rarely get to spend much time with you while you're at school. Homework allows them to keep up with what you're doing in your classes on a daily basis. But you don't have homework purely for your parents' benefit . It's good for you, too!

Homework can help you become a better student in several different ways. First of all, homework given in advance of a particular subject can help you make the most of your classroom discussion time. For example, before beginning a discussion of a complex period in history , it can be very helpful to read background information as homework the night before.

Homework also gives you valuable practice with what you've learned in the classroom. Often, the brief period of time you have during class to learn something new is simply not enough. Repeating classroom concepts at home helps to cement in your mind the things you learned.

For example, you've probably experienced the value of homework when it comes to mathematics . A new concept explained in class might seem foreign at first. With repetition via homework, however, you reinforce what you learned in class and it sticks with you. Without homework, a lot of classroom time would be wasted with repetition that could more easily be done outside the classroom.

In these ways, homework expands upon what is done during the day in the classroom. Your overall educational experience is better, because homework helps you to gain and retain more knowledge than would be possible with only classroom work. As you learn more, you know more and you achieve more…and you have homework to thank!

Homework teaches lessons beyond just what's taught in the classroom, too. Bringing homework home, completing it correctly, and turning it in promptly teaches a host of other important life skills, from time management and responsibility to organization and prioritization .

Despite these benefits found by researchers, the topics of who should receive homework and how much homework are hotly debated among educators and researchers. In one study , researchers found that academic gains from homework increased as grade level increased, suggesting homework is more beneficial for older students. Some researchers have found that too much homework can lower or cancel its benefits and become counterproductive , because students become burned out.

How much is too much? That depends upon many complex factors, including the individual abilities of the child, other demands upon time, such as sports, part-time jobs, family responsibilities, and types of classes. If you feel overburdened by homework, the best thing you can do is to open a dialog with your teacher. Be open and honest about your feelings regarding homework and work with your teacher to strike a reasonable balance that helps you achieve your educational goals.

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day feels just like home!

We hope today's Wonder of the Day didn't feel like homework! Be sure to check out the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • While some kids don't like any homework, almost every student has homework that he doesn't mind doing on a regular basis. For some, reading a novel for homework is pure joy, because they love to read. For others, doing group projects as homework is great fun, because they get to have fun with their friends in the process. Make a list of the types of homework that you enjoy the most. Once you have your list, think about ways in which you can encourage your teachers to assign more of your favorite types of homework and less of the types you don't enjoy as much. Opening a dialog with your teacher about homework can be a mutually-beneficial conversation that can increase learning both in and out of the classroom!
  • You know what goes great with homework? Food! It's true. A healthy snack can give you the energy you need to concentrate and tackle your homework as soon as you get home from school. If you need some ideas, jump online and check out After School Snacks To Power Homework . Share what you learn with your friends and family members. What's your favorite after-school snack? Why?
  • Do you have a lot of homework on a regular basis? It can be easy to get overwhelmed. To make sure you make the most of your homework time, it helps to be organized. Setting priorities and sticking to them will help you complete your assignments on time with minimal stress. For help learning how to do this, read through How to Prioritize Homework Assignments: 5 Steps from School Habits. Using what you learn, put a plan into place that will help you make sure you become a homework hero!

Wonder Sources

  • http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx
  • http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Instruction/What-research-says-about-the-value-of-homework-At-a-glance/What-research-says-about-the-value-of-homework-Research-review.html

Did you get it?

Wonder contributors.

We’d like to thank:

quenton , Jaiden , Leo , Grace and Lenysia for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!

Keep WONDERing with us!

Wonder Words

  • responsibility
  • organization
  • prioritization
  • counterproductive
  • overburdened
  • educational

Wonderopolis

Hopefully this article helped you realize why homework is helpful, nyiahna. Keep WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

Don't get homework at this school. :)

Hopefully this article helped you realize why homework is helpful! 

Wonderopolis

yeah me too a lot

Wonderopolis

Wow, that's great for those schools! Thanks for stopping by, Mister C.

Wonderopolis

You're welcome, Person!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing, Joe!

Wonderopolis

That's a great way to look at it, Adriana! 

That's a great way to look at it, Adriana! Thanks for sharing! 

Wonderopolis

I need to vent

Homework could benefit you. It gives your brain an easier time when you get a surprise quiz.

That's a difficult one, Wonder Friend! 

It certainly is hard to do homework while at play practice! There are so many cool things going on! 

Trying to complete your math homework right after you get home and have had dinner might be the best bet. Good luck! 

Wonderopolis

Ellen The Happy Girl!

We're so glad you liked it, Ellen The Happy Girl!

Wonderopolis

We like your enthusiasm, tyonna! 

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Student! That's an interesting concept. 

Wonderopolis

clever-name-or-smth

There's nothing wrong with being a big ol' nerd. 

And, there's nothing wrong with Invater Zim fanfic, either. 

so is checking these comments like a full time job or

Here at Wonderopolis, we do have specific people that check comments, but we do much more than that! 

Wonderopolis

There's a specific amount of time during a school day--and that doesn't make a lot of time for 'independent practice' of skills learned during the school day. 

Also, it's a GREAT idea to share your homework with your parents! 

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinon, Joe! 

Wonderopolis

That's a great question, Brady. You should post it in the Wonder Bank . 

Wonderopolis

You're welcome, Chase!

Wonderopolis

That's great, loren! Care to share your fun homework hack?

Wonderopolis

wegsfvbydgfhnry

Hey, Wonder Friend. We're sorry you think homework is a waste of time. Practice is really important when learning new things. 

Wonderopolis

Hi sofia! 

What's your secret for making homework fun? I'm sure a lot of our Wonder Friends would like to try it out! 

Wonderopolis

That seems to be a common theme, ashley. 

Wonderopolis

We're sorry to hear that, harrison. 

Wonderopolis

wonder i already know...

Yikes! Well, it's important to have good time management skills so you can get everything turned in! 

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Harold! 

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your thought process, Tyrannie! 

Wonderopolis

That's great, Xavier-B-! Make homework interesting! 

Wonderopolis

Hey, Adriana! We have a wonderful Wonder team that works together to accomplish all the Wonderopolis tasks. There is a core group of three currently, but we have people that pop in occasionally to help with things. 

Wonderopolis

my next wonder is how do you know if a boy likes you because i just got a boyfriend and hes really shy.

Make sure you submit it to the Wonder Bank !

That's legit. We totally understand your position!

Wonderopolis

CaptainObvious

Thanks bunches, CaptainObvious! 

Wonderopolis

Lil’ Mousey

Hey, Lil' Mousey--

We have some Wonders about cheese already. Check them out !

Wonderopolis

I know right! ☺️

Wonderopolis

EverestAndEvetheWarriors

Thanks, E&E!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinion, kev.

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Giani.

Wonderopolis

Jeez bro. It’s boring. All you do is sit there and fill out worksheets and assignments. We already do work at school. Why do we need work at home? It’s boring,bro,it’s boring. That’s why nobody likes it.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Elvisssss. 

None taken. ? And, we're glad you respect homework because it's a great way to practice skills. 

Wonderopolis

It's Crule??

...but necessary!

Wonderopolis

Video gamessssss??????????????

Great reward for finishing homework! 

Wonderopolis

Video games DUH! I have one! Would you rather eat only fried chicken for the rest of your life or suffer from homework every single day for the rest of your life. Plz reply ??

Wonderopolis

ChickenFries

I would pick fried chicken because I’m a HUGE chicken fan. Not a homework fan. One time my teacher gave the class a big report that day and said it was due the next day. It wasn’t fair because I had to miss football practice because I had to work on it.

We're sorry that happened, ChickenFries.

Homework. Definitely. 

Wonderopolis

Wonder Friend

I love homework it the best i love not being able to play with my friends and doing my homework call me i will do your homework. [redacted]

Wonderopolis

It may, Catlyn, but practice makes perfect! 

Wonderopolis

Homeworkistheworst

Wonderopolis

Catlyn smith

Homework is a way for students to practice skills. It takes, on average, doing something right 18 times before it becomes a habit. So, writing a sentence with subject/verb agreement 18 times(ish), means you have mastered that skill. 

Until you get to more complicated stuff.

Wonderopolis

The sources are listed in the left column of the WONDER, ZERVA. 

Homework is the independent practice of a skill teachers need to make sure students can perform on their own. 

We're sorry homework stresses some people out. That's a great subject to bring up with parents and teachers, though! 

Wonderopolis

We're sorry to hear that, Carter. 

Wonderopolis

Isohatehomework

Wonderopolis

I'm sure a lot of our Wonder Friends share your opinion! ?

Oh,ha ha ha.???I am not a so called Wonder Friend. Are you a robot?!

? Everyone who comes to Wonderopolis are our Wonder Friends! 

We're not robots. We actually respond to most of the comments made. 

your not one person, your multiple people who are in the "Wonderopolis" company

Oh...sorry about that...I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry x100 ☹️????

It's ?

Wonderopolis

We think you're not alone in that emotion!

Wonderopolis

Jack McCrea

OMG YOU ARE SO RIGHT. But to be honest I just hate it

Wonderopolis

Mason Smolen

That's WONDERful, Mason!

Wonderopolis

AnonymousPerson31

We're glad we could be of assistance, Wonder Friend!

Wonderopolis

Maybe this WONDER about expectations will help. 

Wonderopolis

Hi, Lulia! It's important to finish your homework so that you can continue to learn about topics discussed in school! What is your favorite subject in school? 

Wonderopolis

Hi, caileigh! Yeah, though homework isn't the most fun activity after school, it will help you learn more about what you learned in school!

Wonderopolis

steve savie

Wonderopolis

Hi, Sara! We're sorry to hear that you're having homework problems ?.

Wonderopolis

All homework does is make students stressed out and make less time for them to be with their family and relax

Wonderopolis

no homework is based on the work we do in school and you will get better at your work.

We're so sorry to hear that you're having a tough time with homework, Wonder Friend ?.  Homework is important, and time with family and relaxing is important, too!

Wonderopolis

AngryPerson

u think all of our parents help with our homework? some of them dont, they see this as a "student's responsibility" and let them be and btw, if you delete this comment, it is easy to see that you don't want any negative comments about this and want to eliminate the people who think homework is bad

Hi, AngryPerson.  We're so sorry that you're angry.  We do want to hear our Wonder Friends' thoughts here at Wonderopolis.  If you're having trouble with your homework, we hope that you ask your teacher for help.  We appreciate your feedback!

Wonderopolis

This is so true! In my house, homework never connected me to my parents, because like work at school, I saw it as a test of what I could do individually. Thus, as all my time was taken up by homework, I almost never spent time with my parents. Now I feel isolated from them.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kay.  We definitely recommend spending quality time with family, and we hope that learning together is a way to connect with your family!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mii.  And we absolutely agree that spending quality time with your family is very important!!  Perhaps you could tell your family fun facts that you learned at school?  Learning new information is also very important, and it is awesome to share the information you learn with your family so that you can learn together! ?

Wonderopolis

Homework is both emotionally and mentally hurtful...Physically too-

We're sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your homework, Wonder Friend!  We hope that you ask your teacher if you have any specific questions about your homework.

Wonderopolis

Hi, Llamaz! We hope that you are getting plenty of sleep, too! Check out  Wonder 1775: Do Kids Need More Sleep Than Adults?   Also, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for asking, rather! We ask that Wonderopolis be listed as the author.  Also, since we do not list the publish date for our Wonders of the Day, you may put the date you accessed this page for information.  The following is how you would cite this page:

"Why Do We Have Homework?"  Wonderopolis.    https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-have-homework .  Accessed 25 Apr. 2018.

Wonderopolis

Hang in there, Louie! It sounds like you're working really hard on your homework and essays, which is awesome!!

Louie ramirez

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us, Louie.   We know that homework takes a lot of work, but it's also helping you learn and Wonder!

Hi, Louie! What are you writing about in your essay?

Wonderopolis

Hi, Clara! We have MANY Wonders on these topics!! Our  Explore Wonders tab contains over 2,100 Wonders, and if you scroll down on this page, you can search for Wonders by topics that you're interested in! Have fun WONDERing, Clara!

Wonderopolis

We're sorry to hear that you are having a hard time with your homework, Ben, but we think that you are doing a great job and working hard! Keep up the great work!!

Wonderopolis

Playing games is fun, but make sure you make time for your homework, too, Mitchell! Once you finish your the homework, you should check out   Wonder 1732: How Are Video Games Made?  ?

Wonderopolis

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Benicio.  Though the pros of homework are the focus of this Wonder, the second to last paragraph does list some potential cons:

"Despite these benefits found by researchers, the topics of who should receive homework and how much homework are hotly debated among educators and researchers. In  one study , researchers found that academic gains from homework increased as grade level increased, suggesting homework is more beneficial for older students. Some researchers have found that too much homework can lower or cancel its benefits and become  counterproductive , because students become burned out."

Wonderopolis

Hi, kody! We're glad that you're WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

We love hearing that, Jordan!! Thanks for letting us know, and thanks for WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for WONDERing with us, Miles!

Wonderopolis

Hi, Ameir! It looks like you've really done some research on the subject! 

Hi, ameir!! If you're having trouble with your homework, you may want to discuss specific questions you're having with your teacher.  What is your favorite subject in school?

math and science are my favorite

Those subjects are very interesting!! Have you seen our  Math and  Science Wonders?

Wonderopolis

We're sorry to hear that, UJEY, but we're glad you're WONDERing with us! 

Wonderopolis

It is important to take some time to rest, but homework is also important! We hope this Wonder helps explain why!

Wonderopolis

We're sorry to hear that, Gia, but we hope that this Wonder helps explain the many benefits of homework, too!

Wonderopolis

homework gets in the way of thing i want to do. I think teachers give homework just because they have nothing else to do. like isn't going to school enough work and it takes time away from my family especially my mom who cancer and i would want to spend more time with my mom. :(

We're so sorry to hear that, digeo! ?

Wonderopolis

dogs go moo

school is kid preson!

We're sorry you feel that way! We think school is an excellent place to Wonder!!!

Wonderopolis

why do dogs go moo

Thanks for WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

mkewigyjdfo8ueabsn ry7gtcbsh j

We're glad you liked this Wonder!! ?

Wonderopolis

Hi, Luke! Have you seen Wonder 1529:  Why Do Cats Purr?

Wonderopolis

Hi, mew mew! Have you seen our  Wonders about cats ?

jacob baldwin

Sorry, didn't catch that, jacob! Glad you're WONDERing with us though!!

Hello, Bob! We're always looking to hear more from our Wonder Friends!!  ?

Thanks for stopping by to Wonder with us!

dogs say moooooooooooooooooooo

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing! Sometimes it is difficult to balance homework and other activities.  What are some of your favorite things to do when you're not doing homework?

Wonderopolis

We're sorry you feel that way, CN Olson!! We're glad you're WONDERing with us, though!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for joining the conversation, davaeh!

Wonderopolis

im sorry for anyone that feels that way but homework is good for you

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Wonderopolis

Great points, john! We hope you will have some more free time soon!!  Thanks for WONDERing with us!!

Wonderopolis

We appreciate your feedback, jorge! 

Wonderopolis

Agreed aswell

Does your school give homework, bob? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Wonderopolis

xxxtentacion

Sometimes, unfortunately, it does ?. Homework also has benefits too, though! Thanks, gavin!

Wonderopolis

That certainly does add up the majority of the day!  The lessons we learn in school help us to grow up to be thoughtful and intelligent adults.  We do agree that everyone needs a break sometimes, though!  Hope you and our other friends get a few minutes to kick back and relax today!?

Wonderopolis

We should discontinue homework because some kids don’t do it or understand it, therefore kids start stressing and saying to there self I’m gonna get in trouble , I’m gonna get a bad grade and it basically leads in to this whole conflict .

Thanks for sharing, Liv!

Wonderopolis

Sorry you feel that way, Justin, but we're glad that you're WONDERing with us!!

Wonderopolis

Thank you bob, we should change our studies to something actually helpful.

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts, Bob.  Thanks for WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

Homework hater

Homework is a disease I think we need a intercontinental cure research lab for it

But, unfortunately, creating this research lab may require some homework! ? 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hi!  It's good to keep the conversation going about the amount of homework that students typically get.

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing that, Caden!  Have you been back to Mars since being born there?

Wonderopolis

Yes, I went there with him I will send you a postcard next time we go. I think Mars is wrecking his brain.

Kai's evil twin

My friend trolled me

? Be safe out there, Caden!

Wonderopolis

Must be a fun class! ?

Thanks for the feedback, Gyanve!  Great to hear from you! ?

Perhaps they also suggested some coping strategies, too?  

OOOOOOOOOOO

Not a roast

Hi again, Kai!  Actually, if you look toward the bottom of the Wonder, under "Sources" you'll see where we got our information.  We appreciate you checking up on us with a critical eye!  It's always good to be a little skeptical and ask for more research and data. You're a smart Wonder Friend!  We Wonder if you could do some research to find support for why schools SHOULDN'T have homework. We're curious to hear what you find!

www.Scholastic.com says that there is no evidence to say that homework benefits kids at all, and Washington Post says that homework on a national level is not related to academic success. Washington post also says that some lower income countries cultures normalize long periods of studying but it is uneffective, nd neotoday.org says that the link between assigned homework and academic achievement is drastically over inflated, What do you have to say about that?(sorry If I was a little harsh in my last two comments I was unhappy at the time) neotoday.org/2014/05/13/should-schools-be-done-with-homework) //www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/02/homework-could-have-an-effect-on-kids-health-should-schools-ban-it

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/subarticle.jsp?id=2953

WOW!! You've really done some EXCELLENT research from some reputable sources, Kai!  Our Wonder Salute to you!  One thing to note: in the Washington Post article, they do make a distinction that heavy homework loads in elementary can be negative.  In higher grades, this might not be the case "Homework, in fact, is an important component of education for students in the middle and upper grades of schooling.".  It certainly raises a very good question which is we shouldn't assume homework is helping and adding more homework all the time seems to definitely not be helping.  It's a great question that deserves a lot more thought and research.  Thank you for WONDERing and researching, Kai! 

This might get moderated, but I am curious to see how how many people "talked" with me./?

How many people have responded to my comments

You would just have to look on this comment page and see who "replies" to your comment.  Does that help, Kai?

What do you mean, exactly?  We don't follow.

? Wow, tough review!  Well, research does support that extra practice helps.  We DO discuss the debate over how much homework and what kind.  Truthfully, homework is probably not going anywhere anytime soon, so we wanted to help show our Wonder Friends how it can be beneficial and how one can get the most out of it.  We appreciate hearing from you, Kai!

Wonderopolis

I'd agree with the fact that practice does help learning on a basic level of memory but, in experience as a student, I cannot say that homework could be considered "practice." I've had many-a-teacher that has given homework out and I've had to google search how to do most of it because I was never taught it in class. Homework is more of busy work in the way of doing hobbies, eating, sleeping, and a happy and healthy life style that could possibly be important in "the real world", as if this torture is as easy as petting a bunny. Homework CAN provide help in small, sparatic, doses. If you are bombarded with homework everyday, it really becomes more harmful than helpful.

Great thoughts, Jillian!  Really well said and we appreciate you taking the time to share that with us!  We wish more teachers made time to wonder with their class (and we are thankful for the great ones who do!).

Wonderopolis

jaime lannister

you couldn't be more right school is about seven hours every 5 days a week for about a year and we still get work to take home like school is for learning there needs to be time to separate school life from your life like you can't just do work all day and you also get homework when it's holiday and there are enough going on in childrens lives than homework so this page is bad no one needs homework i learn more from youtube videos than school and children get anxiety enough from life like puberty, family, growing older school is just boring and you need time to settle your mind because in british schools they work you forever and the teachers are tough.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jaime!  Hang in there!

Wonderopolis

I hate homework we do work every day at school teachers know what is is like because they been through homework.Let me put it to you guys i know some people hate homework and some do not.Most teachers just overdo homework.

Good thoughts, Edrick.  Thanks for sharing and glad to have you WONDERing with us!

Do they write those essays in class or at home, Brielle? ?

they write the essays at home

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Yuguj!  Glad to have you WONDERing with us on this important topic!

Wonderopolis

I agree so much I am so scared of not doing my homework or my grade might go down and that really isn't fair for me and my peers so great point!!!

That's a great point, Anonymous!  In a perfect world, people would just do the work assigned and see the value in it.  Sadly, it's hard to do away with the consequences and still have full participation.  It's a challenging problem to try and solve, but we are glad you are WONDERing with us!

Wonderopolis

I think homework is a waste of time. it takes away from family time and exercise time.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alisa! We think family time and exercise are important, too. The article did mention some reasons why homework has value, even if it doesn't always seem that way. Hang in there! It will all be worth it someday!

I am a very smart student with a brain to fit an adult, but even i get tired of homework. I have spent all day at school so I want a break. We don' need homework.

Wonderopolis

Yes, I agree and I too get tired of it. In my school they said that HW, was just the same lesson at home than at school. It is just a review. I am smart and don't study (LOL) and yet I have always gotten an A or a B in my tests (BTW, studying is considered homework for some reasons)

The struggle is real, Alisa. We do hope you get some time to give that super-smart brain a break! Thanks for using some of that brain power here with us at Wonderopolis!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kid77! Sometimes in life, the important things are not always the most fun. Some homework assignments might feel unnecessary but (as the article mentioned) there can be many functions of homework. At least in your case, if you learned the material well in class, it shouldn't take up as much time to complete at home. Sometimes, though, that extra practice can make the difference between knowing the information and truly mastering it. Hang in there, Kid77!

Wonderopolis

ethan (murphy)

If you are bullied, tell a teacher, if the teacher is the bully.... I honestly can’t help you there.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, ethan. We're sorry it feels like you are being bullied by your teachers. Have you spoken with your school counselor or your parents? Perhaps they can help you resolve the issues you are facing.

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your feedback with us, Alexia. We hope you'll keep exploring Wonders to find one you like!

Wonderopolis

Thank you for commenting, Boi. We hope you'll visit Wonderopolis again soon.

Wonderopolis

Thanks for joining the conversation, pretty456 and twanasia! We're glad you stopped by Wonderopolis!

you don't like homework?

Thanks for telling us how you feel, Isaac. We appreciate your feedback.

Wonderopolis

We're glad we could help with your homework, Pusheen! Since we do not list the publish date, standard MLA formatting says that it's OK to list the date you accessed the page for information. Check out the Purdue OWL website for more guidance.

Thank you for WONDERing with us, Isaac! We hope you'll take a look at Wonder #1534. We think it's right up your alley! ?

Wonderopolis

Certainly, Liesel! Thank you for asking. We ask that Wonderopolis be listed as the author of this Wonder of the Day. Since we do not list the publish date, you may use the date you accessed this webpage for information (such as November 27). Cheers, Wonder Friend!

Wonderopolis

We're glad you found this Wonder helpful, sonice! There are both advantages and disadvantages to homework and sometimes those points are contrary to each other. This happens when there are different studies performed by different researchers. Sometimes the results contradict other studies.

I used this source for a case study that I am conducting on homework. I was wondering if I could know who wrote the source and when it was published. If I am allowed to have this information, please respond. Thank you.

Thank you for using Wonderopolis for your homework, Liesel! Please see our response above. ?

Wonderopolis

I know the heather

Thanks for joining the discussion, D. We're glad you visited Wonderopolis.

We're glad this Wonder helped, suicune300, even if it didn't make you like homework any more! It's great that you're WONDERing! We hope you'll stop by again! :)

Wonderopolis

Hi, bill! We're not sure we understand your comment. Do you have homework about autism? If so, head over to Wonder #1346 to explore information about autism.

Wonderopolis

We're glad you joined the conversation, avery! We hope you liked reading this Wonder -- perhaps it helped you understand some of the advantages to homework. :)

Wonderopolis

We're glad you joined the discussion, Bob. Perhaps this Wonder helped to explain why homework is assigned to students. :)

Hi, amez! Sometimes it is helpful to take a break before starting your homework. Thinking can be tiring sometimes, but it's so important! :)

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Thank you for sharing, Wonder Friend! :)

Wonderopolis

lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies

We're sorry you feel this way, bob. Thanks for sharing your opinion. We always value hearing from our Wonder Friends! :)

Hi, Christian. We're sorry you don't agree with this Wonder. We encourage you to also explore the Wonder Sources listed. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Wonderopolis

i hate homework

Thank you for sharing your opinion, yazzie! We hope this Wonder helped you to understand some of the advantages to homework, along with some of the disadvantages. :)

Wonderopolis

i really like this article, got an A+ on my report. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great job, Wonder Friend! Keep up the GREAT work and always keep WONDERing! :)

Hi, Wonder Friend! We appreciate you sharing your opinion about homework! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

Wonderopolis

We appreciate you sharing your opinion about homework, nathan! Try to think about all the extra practice! :)

Wonderopolis

hey homework is good for your brain and help you to get smarter

Thanks for sharing your opinion, elroi! 

Wonderopolis

Great question, tyler! If we know who submitted the question the author is listed up by the "Listen" button. This Wonder does not have an author listed. Sometimes people submit anonymous questions! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Wonderopolis

Riley & Anna

Thanks for the KIND words, Riley & Anna! We think our Wonder Friends are pretty AWESOME, too! We encourage you to submit your question to the Wonder Bank! :)

Wonderopolis

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts about homework, bob! We're glad you think it is helpful! :)

Wonderopolis

I hate homework

Thanks for joining the discussion and sharing your opinion, Brendon! We're glad you're WONDERing! :)

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Wonder Friend! Spending time with your parents is important, too! We encourage you to share this Wonder with them! :)

Wonderopolis

Antonio yet King

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this Wonder topic, too! Thanks for joining the conversation, Antonio! :)

Wonderopolis

Thanks for joining the conversation, Caroline! We appreciate you sharing your thoughts! :)

Hi, Makayla! We appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this important topic! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! :)

Wonderopolis

Welcome, Dionna! Thanks for sharing your opinion about homework! We're glad you're WONDERing! :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bob! We understand that sometimes it is difficult, but try to also think about the positive aspects mentioned in the Wonder! :)

I notice that none of the evidence presented in the article is backed by any tests or studies to show that the claims presented in the wonder is true.

Oh wow.  You got us, Unknown.  Not a fan of homework, we are guessing?  Did you try clicking any of our sources links?  We appreciate you keeping us on our toes!

Hi, d! We understand it's important for you to have free time, too! We hope you still have time for that! :)

I think you are wrong I have to stay up all night to do my homework then at school I always fall asleep :(

We're sorry to hear that, Jack. Thanks for sharing your connection. Maybe you can talk to your teacher about that. :)

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinion about homework, avry! We appreciate you joining the discussion! Hopefully you learned some of the positive aspects of homework! :)

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Bumble Bee! We understand that there are many different opinions out there about homework. We tried to address both sides, while also stating the positive aspects of homework. We hope you understand and Wonder with us again soon! :)

Wonderopolis

wonderopolis is a lier

no your article is mostly one sided. the side being that homework is good

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Wonder Friend. You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of homework by reviewing the Wonder Sources we provided above.

Wonderopolis

Hi, Kayla! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! We're sorry to hear homework is so stressful. We hope things get better! Stay positive! :)

Wonderopolis

That's GREAT, Emma! We love your enthusiasm for learning! Keep up the GREAT work! :)

Wonderopolis

Trinity Goebel

Hi, Trinity! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about homework. Sometimes it can be frustrating if you have a lot, but try to stay positive! Keep up the GREAT work! :)

Wonderopolis

homework is stupid why why do we have it mmmmmmm i hate it..

Hi, tyson! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We're sure there is some good in homework -- just take a look at the Wonder text above to see! :)

A lot of students don't like homework, ..., and it can be challenging to keep up with homework with everything else going on in your life. The important thing is to do your best, because there are lots of benefits to homework even if it doesn't always seem like it. If homework is a regular problem, talk to your teacher or fellow classmates for help. We're glad you took the time to share your thoughts about homework.

Wonderopolis

To answer your question, Im pretty sure homework is NOT a law, but pretty much every teacher gives you homework. Depending on what grade you are in, usually grades 1-3 get 0-30 minutes of homework each night. grades 4-6 get 0-2 hour of homework each night, and Grades 7 and 8 get 30-3 hours of homework each night..... all of this depends on the student and how he or she learns. but this is what the average student gives to do homework in Elementary school

Thanks for the GREAT explanation, emma! You're right in that there are recommended amounts, but no particular law. We appreciate your comment! :)

Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis for your homework, Maya! Homework is not a law. It depends how much homework you have as to how long it takes. Also, some assignments, like projects, take longer than smaller assignments. We hope this Wonder was helpful in answering your questions! :)

Hi, Maya! No, homework is not a law. It is up to your teacher or school. We hope this Wonder helped explain how homework is helpful for practicing what you learned. We understand it is a pain sometimes, but we hope you understand! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

Wonderopolis

TENNIS is awesome

Hello, TENNIS is awesome! The WONDER mentions some reasons why homework is important, sch as extra practice. We appreciate your comment and you sharing your opinion with us! :)

Wonderopolis

One opinion

Wonderopolis

Wonderopolis

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts, One opinion! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

Wonderopolis

Hello, hahahah! Homework can be time consuming sometimes, but keep thinking positively about all you're learning! :)

We appreciate you sharing your opinion, Goopdi! Sometimes it may seem like a chore, but it is always a good idea to practice what you learned at school. WONDERing is a WONDERful way to learn and have fun at the same time! :)

Wonderopolis

I believe homework is a waste of time!!

Wonderopolis

Shae Skipper

Hello, Shae Skipper! You make some great points to support your opinion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with your WONDER friends! :)

Wonderopolis

Why do we wonder?

That's a GREAT question, Alistair! WONDERing is a GREAT way to learn new things, have fun, and explore the world around us! :)

Wonderopolis

connor essary

Hello WONDER Friend, connor essary! We are glad you enjoyed this WONDER. Here is another WONDER about homework. Wonder #491: Do Dogs Really Eat Homework? Enjoy! :)

Wonderopolis

JoHaunn Mainwood

Hi JoHaunn Mainwood! Thanks for commenting on this WONDER! We appreciate our WONDER friends sharing their thoughts! :)

Wonderopolis

Welcome, Bob! Thanks for WONDERing with us and commenting on the WONDER! :)

Wonderopolis

McDonald's

Hi McDonald's! Thanks for commenting on this WONDER. We hate to hear you hate homework. Homework is another way to learn and show others what you know. Check back for more WONDERS! :)

Wonderopolis

Hi Jaheim! We hate to hear you don't enjoy your homework. Homework is a great way to show your family and friends what you are doing in school. Keep working hard and WONDERing!

Wonderopolis

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sara! You do learn more from doing your homework! Keep up the great work! :)

Wonderopolis

Hi David! We hate to hear you don't like homework because it helps us practice what we learned in school. Homework is different everywhere you go. Keep working hard! :)

Wonderopolis

Hello, Nicole! We hate to hear you hate homework. Homework can be great practice for what you are learning in school. We know you are working hard and doing a great job. Keep it up! :)

Wonderopolis

keandre campbell

Welcome to WONDERopolis, keandre campbell! There are over 1,000 WONDERS for you to explore. Thanks for WONDERing with us. Check back every day for more WONDERful WONDERS! :)

Wonderopolis

That's great, Crazy! Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

Wonderopolis

Wonder frog

Wonderopolis

It is not school is amazing!!!

Welcome, Wonder frog! We hate to hear you don't enjoy school. School is a great opportunity to WONDER and learn new things. Then you can share your new knowledge with your friends. Try checking out Wonder #1268: Why Was School Created? Always keep WONDERing! :)

Wonderopolis

I agree totally!

We appreciate you sharing your opinion about homework, too, Kaytlyn! Thanks for stopping by! :)

We appreciate you joining the discussion, Trinity! We hope this Wonder showed a few reasons why homework can be beneficial! :)

Hello, Jordan! Homework can be great practice. It helps you continue learning! :)

Wonderopolis

Lukas Wozencraft

That's funny, Lukas Wozencraft! What do you think it will be about? Be sure to check back tomorrow! :)

Wonderopolis

Jahkeya from DE

Hello WONDER friend, Jahkeya from DE! What would our world be like if dinosaurs weren't extint? Hmmm...? Something to WONDER about! :)

Wonderopolis

We are glad you enjoyed the video, Jasahn! Homework is very helpful most of the time! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

Wonderopolis

We are glad you liked the video, Makayla! It made us laugh, too! Check out Wonder #1285: What Was Before Dinosaurs? Happy WONDERing! :)

Wonderopolis

Juilo from DE

Hello, Juilo from DE! Cheer up! Homework helps you practice what you are learning. After all, they say practice makes perfect! If you enjoy video games, check out Wonder #1344: Who Invented the First Video Game? Have fun WONDERing! :)

Wonderopolis

Autumn from Delaware

Welcome, Autumn from Delaware! The video was silly! Here is another WONDER about dinosaurs! Wonder #275: How Do Dinosaurs Get Their Names? Enjoy! :)

Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sara! Check back everyday for more WONDERful WONDERS!:)

Wonderopolis

Hello, Gabriel! It sounds like many of our WONDER friends agree with you about the video. We all thought it was funny too! Thanks for commenting! :)

Wonderopolis

Julian from Delaware

Welcome, Julian from Delaware! You stay busy! That shows true commitment and hard work! :)

Wonderopolis

Hi Geyonni! We are glad you liked the video. Can you imagine seeing a dinosaur at school? Check out Wonder #491: Do Dogs Really Eat Homework? Happy WONDERing! :)

Wonderopolis

christina from De

Wonderopolis

I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for commenting, christina from De! You're right, that kids also need time to spend with their family. As the WONDER tells us, it is important to not have too much homework. That leaves time for both! :)

Wonderopolis

Khyan from DE

Thanks for sharing, Khyan from DE! Homework is helpful practice and playing with your friends is important, too. Hopefully you can find a happy medium between the two! :)

Wonderopolis

Kainat from Delware

Not really... :(

im just here because of espark, of all you people you domt kn9w what espark is, well its not homework its just were on oir school ipads amd we do this app that novody wants to do and we have (quests) and are a bunch of activities put togethor.

That could be a very fun way to learn and WONDER, Mitchell! 

Wonderopolis

William Weispfenning

Homework is so fun (not) homework = ?

lol really william

Thanks for joining the discussion, William. There are pros and cons to homework and we hope this Wonder helped you learn about them. ?

We appreciate you sharing your thoughts, Trinity! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! :)

That's right, Kainat from Delware! Homework is great practice! Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

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Question 1 of 3

Homework plays an important role for parents by creating a bridge between home and what?

  • a school Correct!
  • b parents Not Quite!
  • c coaches Not Quite!
  • d students Not Quite!

Question 2 of 3

Which of the following is NOT an important life skill that can be enhanced via homework?

  • a time management Not Quite!
  • b prioritization Not Quite!
  • c organization Not Quite!
  • d photosynthesis Correct!

Question 3 of 3

How much is too much homework per night?

  • a 30 minutes Not Quite!
  • b 1 hour Not Quite!
  • c 2 hours Not Quite!
  • d It depends upon a variety of complex factors. Correct!

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The Surprising History of Homework Reform

Really, kids, there was a time when lots of grownups thought homework was bad for you.

Boy sitting at desk with book

Homework causes a lot of fights. Between parents and kids, sure. But also, as education scholar Brian Gill and historian Steven Schlossman write, among U.S. educators. For more than a century, they’ve been debating how, and whether, kids should do schoolwork at home .

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, homework meant memorizing lists of facts which could then be recited to the teacher the next day. The rising progressive education movement despised that approach. These educators advocated classrooms free from recitation. Instead, they wanted students to learn by doing. To most, homework had no place in this sort of system.

Through the middle of the century, Gill and Schlossman write, this seemed like common sense to most progressives. And they got their way in many schools—at least at the elementary level. Many districts abolished homework for K–6 classes, and almost all of them eliminated it for students below fourth grade.

By the 1950s, many educators roundly condemned drills, like practicing spelling words and arithmetic problems. In 1963, Helen Heffernan, chief of California’s Bureau of Elementary Education, definitively stated that “No teacher aware of recent theories could advocate such meaningless homework assignments as pages of repetitive computation in arithmetic. Such an assignment not only kills time but kills the child’s creative urge to intellectual activity.”

But, the authors note, not all reformers wanted to eliminate homework entirely. Some educators reconfigured the concept, suggesting supplemental reading or having students do projects based in their own interests. One teacher proposed “homework” consisting of after-school “field trips to the woods, factories, museums, libraries, art galleries.” In 1937, Carleton Washburne, an influential educator who was the superintendent of the Winnetka, Illinois, schools, proposed a homework regimen of “cooking and sewing…meal planning…budgeting, home repairs, interior decorating, and family relationships.”

Another reformer explained that “at first homework had as its purpose one thing—to prepare the next day’s lessons. Its purpose now is to prepare the children for fuller living through a new type of creative and recreational homework.”

That idea didn’t necessarily appeal to all educators. But moderation in the use of traditional homework became the norm.

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“Virtually all commentators on homework in the postwar years would have agreed with the sentiment expressed in the NEA Journal in 1952 that ‘it would be absurd to demand homework in the first grade or to denounce it as useless in the eighth grade and in high school,’” Gill and Schlossman write.

That remained more or less true until 1983, when publication of the landmark government report A Nation at Risk helped jump-start a conservative “back to basics” agenda, including an emphasis on drill-style homework. In the decades since, continuing “reforms” like high-stakes testing, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Common Core standards have kept pressure on schools. Which is why twenty-first-century first graders get spelling words and pages of arithmetic.

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Rethinking Homework for This Year—and Beyond

A schoolwide effort to reduce homework has led to a renewed focus on ensuring that all work assigned really aids students’ learning.

Teacher leading a virtual lesson in her empty classroom

I used to pride myself on my high expectations, including my firm commitment to accountability for regular homework completion among my students. But the trauma of Covid-19 has prompted me to both reflect and adapt. Now when I think about the purpose and practice of homework, two key concepts guide me: depth over breadth, and student well-being.

Homework has long been the subject of intense debate, and there’s no easy answer with respect to its value. Teachers assign homework for any number of reasons: It’s traditional to do so, it makes students practice their skills and solidify learning, it offers the opportunity for formative assessment, and it creates good study habits and discipline. Then there’s the issue of pace. Throughout my career, I’ve assigned homework largely because there just isn’t enough time to get everything done in class.

A Different Approach

Since classes have gone online, the school where I teach has made a conscious effort as a teaching community to reduce, refine, and distill our curriculum. We have applied guiding questions like: What is most important? What is most transferable? What is most relevant? Refocusing on what matters most has inevitably made us rethink homework.

We have approached both asking and answering these questions through a science of learning lens. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning , the authors maintain that deep learning is slow learning. Deep learning requires time for retrieval, practice, feedback, reflection, and revisiting content; ultimately it requires struggle, and there is no struggle without time.

As someone who has mastered the curriculum mapping style of “get it done to move on to get that next thing done,” using an approach of “slow down and reduce” has been quite a shift for me. However, the shift has been necessary: What matters most is what’s best for my students, as opposed to my own plans or mandates imposed by others.

Listening to Students

To implement this shift, my high school English department has reduced content and texts both in terms of the amount of units and the content within each unit. We’re more flexible with dates and deadlines. We spend our energy planning the current unit instead of the year’s units. In true partnership with my students, I’m constantly checking in with them via Google forms, Zoom chats, conferences, and Padlet activities. In these check-ins, I specifically ask students how they’re managing the workload for my class and their other classes. I ask them how much homework they’re doing. And I adjust what I do and expect based on what they tell me. For example, when I find out a week is heavy with work in other classes, I make sure to allot more time during class for my tasks. At times I have even delayed or altered one of my assignments.

To be completely transparent, the “old” me is sheepish in admitting that I’ve so dramatically changed my thinking with respect to homework. However, both my students and I have reaped numerous benefits. I’m now laser-focused when designing every minute of my lessons to maximize teaching and learning. Every decision I make is now scrutinized through the lens of absolute worth for my students’ growth: If it doesn’t make the cut, it’s cut. I also take into account what is most relevant to my students.

For example, our 10th-grade English team has redesigned a unit that explores current manifestations of systemic oppression. This unit is new in approach and longer in duration than it was pre-Covid, and it has resulted in some of the deepest and hardest learning, as well as the richest conversations, that I have seen among students in my career. Part of this improved quality comes from the frequent and intentional pauses that I instruct students to take in order to reflect on the content and on the arc of their own learning. The reduction in content that we need to get through in online learning has given me more time to assign reflective prompts, and to let students process their thoughts, whether that’s at the end of a lesson as an exit slip or as an assignment.

Joining Forces to Be Consistent

There’s no doubt this reduction in homework has been a team effort. Within the English department, we have all agreed to allot reading time during class; across each grade level, we’re monitoring the amount of homework our students have collectively; and across the whole high school, we have adopted a framework to help us think through assigning homework.

Within that framework, teachers at the school agree that the best option is for students to complete all work during class. The next best option is for students to finish uncompleted class work at home as a homework assignment of less than 30 minutes. The last option—the one we try to avoid as much as possible—is for students to be assigned and complete new work at home (still less than 30 minutes). I set a maximum time limit for students’ homework tasks (e.g., 30 minutes) and make that clear at the top of every assignment.

This schoolwide approach has increased my humility as a teacher. In the past, I tended to think my subject was more important than everyone else’s, which gave me license to assign more homework. But now I view my students’ experience more holistically: All of their classes and the associated work must be considered, and respected.

As always, I ground this new pedagogical approach not just in what’s best for students’ academic learning, but also what’s best for them socially and emotionally. 2020 has been traumatic for educators, parents, and students. There is no doubt the level of trauma varies greatly ; however, one can’t argue with the fact that homework typically means more screen time when students are already spending most of the day on their devices. They need to rest their eyes. They need to not be sitting at their desks. They need physical activity. They need time to do nothing at all.

Eliminating or reducing homework is a social and emotional intervention, which brings me to the greatest benefit of reducing the homework load: Students are more invested in their relationship with me now that they have less homework. When students trust me to take their time seriously, when they trust me to listen to them and adjust accordingly, when they trust me to care for them... they trust more in general.

And what a beautiful world of learning can be built on trust.

Science of mind

Science of mind

why is homework good for your brain

Why is homework good for your brain?

Did you know that homework has a profound impact on brain development? It’s not just about completing assignments; homework can actually improve brain function and enhance cognitive abilities.

Homework is designed to help students prepare for the future and develop skills that are essential for success in life. It offers several cognitive benefits, including the development of memory and critical thinking skills. By practicing and repeating new skills through homework, students can enhance their memory and retain knowledge for exams and future tests.

But that’s not all. Homework also helps students build suitable study habits, learn time management, realize personal responsibility, work independently, and improve their ability to use resources and conduct research.

Key Takeaways:

  • Homework improves brain function and enhances cognitive abilities.
  • By practicing and repeating new skills through homework, students can enhance their memory and retain knowledge.
  • Homework helps students build suitable study habits, learn time management, and realize personal responsibility.
  • Homework fosters independence and the ability to use resources effectively.
  • Research shows that designing and assigning homework correctly can optimize its effectiveness as a learning tool.

The Cognitive Benefits of Homework

Homework is not just a task assigned by teachers to keep students occupied after school; it has far-reaching cognitive benefits and contributes to brain growth and development. Through various homework assignments, students have the opportunity to enhance critical thinking skills, memory retention, and problem-solving abilities.

One essential cognitive benefit of homework is its ability to challenge and develop critical thinking skills. By applying the concepts they’ve learned in class to real-life situations, students can deepen their understanding and improve their analytical thinking abilities. This practice fosters a deeper level of comprehension and encourages students to actively engage with the material.

Another cognitive benefit of homework is its positive impact on memory retention. Through practice and repetition of new skills and knowledge, students reinforce the neural connections in their brains, making the information more accessible and easier to recall. This improved memory retention helps students perform better on exams and enhances their overall academic performance.

Homework also plays a crucial role in developing problem-solving abilities. Assignments that require students to think critically and find innovative solutions to complex problems help cultivate their analytical and logical thinking skills. These problem-solving abilities are essential for success in various aspects of life, from academic pursuits to professional careers.

Overall, homework has a profound impact on cognitive development, providing students with opportunities to enhance critical thinking, memory retention, and problem-solving abilities. By engaging in regular homework assignments, students can nurture these essential cognitive skills and lay a solid foundation for their future academic and professional success.

Building Essential Skills Through Homework

Homework plays a vital role in building essential skills that are crucial for academic success and beyond. It provides students with the opportunity to develop effective study habits, learn time management, cultivate personal responsibility, and engage in independent work.

One of the key benefits of homework is the development of study habits. Through regular homework assignments, students learn how to plan their study sessions, set realistic goals, and effectively organize their time. By following consistent study routines, students can maximize their learning potential and improve their overall academic performance.

Time management is another vital skill that homework helps students develop. By juggling multiple assignments and deadlines, students learn to prioritize tasks, allocate their time effectively, and meet their academic obligations. These skills are essential not only for academic success but also for managing responsibilities in other areas of life.

Homework also fosters a sense of personal responsibility. Being accountable for completing assignments on time and to the best of their ability teaches students the importance of taking ownership of their education. It instills a work ethic that can significantly impact their future success, both inside and outside the classroom.

Furthermore, homework promotes independent work and critical thinking skills. Through assignments that require students to apply concepts learned in class, they develop their problem-solving abilities and deepen their understanding of the subject matter. This type of independent work encourages students to think creatively, analyze information critically, and develop their own perspectives.

By engaging in homework, students are actively building these essential skills that will benefit them throughout their education and beyond. The combination of effective study habits, time management, personal responsibility, and independent work fosters self-discipline, resilience, and a lifelong love of learning.

building essential skills through homework

Testimonial:

“Homework has been instrumental in developing my study habits and time management skills. It has taught me the importance of setting goals and staying organized. Through homework, I’ve become more accountable and independent in my learning.” – Jane Smith, High School Student

Homework and Research Skills

When it comes to homework, research skills are essential for academic success. Homework assignments often require students to explore various resources, such as research papers, books, websites, and videos. By delving into these resources, students develop the ability to effectively use different information sources and enhance their understanding of the subject matter.

Research skills acquired through homework not only improve students’ academic performance but also prepare them to navigate the vast amount of information available in the digital age. By honing their research skills, students become adept at finding relevant and reliable information, analyzing different sources, and critically evaluating the credibility and validity of the information they come across.

Research skills acquired through homework contribute to academic success and prepare students for future challenges.

Through homework, students develop the persistence and resilience necessary to delve deep into a topic, locate relevant information, and synthesize their findings in a coherent manner. These skills are not only valuable during their academic journey but will also benefit them throughout their lives as they continue to learn and grow.

Moreover, conducting research for homework assignments instills a sense of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge in students. It encourages them to explore beyond the textbook and develop a broader perspective on the topics they are studying. They learn to ask questions, seek answers, and develop a lifelong love for learning.

Overall, homework assignments that require research skills play a vital role in shaping students’ intellectual growth, fostering critical thinking, and preparing them for the challenges they will face in their future academic and professional endeavors.

homework and research skills

The Science of Homework Efficiency

When it comes to homework, there is a science behind ensuring its maximum effectiveness as a learning tool. Research has shown that the way homework is designed and assigned can have a significant impact on student performance. To optimize learning outcomes, homework should provide independent learning opportunities and present challenges that facilitate deliberate practice of essential content and skills.

One factor that can greatly affect the efficiency of homework is task switching. Constantly switching between homework and distractions like social media can significantly prolong the time spent on assignments. To overcome this, it is crucial to encourage students to delay gratification by using social media as a reward after completing their assignments. By eliminating distractions and focusing on the task at hand, students can deepen their learning and complete their homework more efficiently.

Adopting a scientific approach to tackling homework can lead to improved academic performance. By implementing strategies that optimize learning, such as organizing study sessions, setting goals, and utilizing resources effectively, students can enhance their understanding of the subject matter and improve their overall learning outcomes. By prioritizing uninterrupted focus and disciplined work, students can transform homework into a valuable learning experience that prepares them for success in their academic endeavors.

Source Links

  • https://www.crispebooks.org/
  • http://www.math.usf.edu/~mccolm/pedagogy/HWgood.html
  • https://www.edutopia.org/blog/homework-sleep-and-student-brain-glenn-whitman

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Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Senior Contributing Editor

Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

She can be reached at [email protected] .

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There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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what is homework made for

Who Invented Homework and Why

what is homework made for

Who Invented Homework

Italian pedagog, Roberto Nevilis, was believed to have invented homework back in 1905 to help his students foster productive studying habits outside of school. However, we'll sound find out that the concept of homework has been around for much longer.                                                                                                                                                              

Homework, which most likely didn't have a specific term back then, already existed even in ancient civilizations. Think Greece, Rome, and even ancient Egypt. Over time, homework became standardized in our educational systems. This happened naturally over time, as the development of the formal education system continued.                                                        

In this article, we're going to attempt to find out who invented homework, and when was homework invented, and we're going to uncover if the creator of homework is a single person or a group of them. Read this article through to the end to find out.

Who Created Homework and When?

The concept of homework predates modern educational systems, with roots in ancient Rome. However, Roberto Nevilis is often, yet inaccurately, credited with inventing homework in 1905.Depending on various sources, this invention is dated either in the year 1095 or 1905.

The invention of homework is commonly attributed to Roberto Nevilis, an Italian pedagog who is said to have introduced it as a form of punishment for his students in 1905. However, the concept of homework predates Nevilis and has roots that go back much further in history.

The practice of assigning students work to be done outside of class time can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as Rome, where Pliny the Younger (AD 61–113) encouraged his students to practice public speaking at home to improve their oratory skills.

It's important to note that the idea of formalized homework has evolved significantly over centuries, influenced by educational theories and pedagogical developments. The purpose and nature of homework have been subjects of debate among educators, with opinions varying on its effectiveness and impact on student learning and well-being.

It might be impossible to answer when was homework invented. A simpler question to ask is ‘what exactly is homework?’.

If you define it as work assigned to do outside of a formal educational setup, then homework might be as old as humanity itself. When most of what people studied were crafts and skills, practicing them outside of dedicated learning times may as well have been considered homework.

Let’s look at a few people who have been credited with formalizing homework over the past few thousand years. 

Roberto Nevilis

Stories and speculations on the internet claim Roberto Nevilis is the one who invented school homework, or at least was the first person to assign homework back in 1905.

Who was he? He was an Italian educator who lived in Venice. He wanted to discipline and motivate his class of lackluster students. Unfortunately, claims online lack factual basis and strong proof that Roberto did invent homework.                                                                                                        

Homework, as a concept, predates Roberto, and can't truly be assigned to a sole inventor. Moreover, it's hard to quantify where an idea truly emerges, because many ideas emerge from different parts of the world simultaneously or at similar times, therefore it's hard to truly pinpoint who invented this idea.

Pliny the Younger

Another culprit according to the internet lived a thousand years before Roberto Nevilis. Pliny the Younger was an oratory teacher in the first century AD in the Roman Empire.

He apparently asked his students to practice their oratory skills at home, which some people consider one of the first official versions of homework.

It is difficult to say with any certainty if this is the first time homework was assigned though because the idea of asking students to practice something outside classes probably existed in every human civilization for millennia. 

Horace Mann

To answer the question of who invented homework and why, at least in the modern sense, we have to talk about Horace Mann. Horace Mann was an American educator and politician in the 19th century who was heavily influenced by movements in the newly-formed German state.

He is credited for bringing massive educational reform to America, and can definitely be considered the father of modern homework in the United States. However, his ideas were heavily influenced by the founding father of German nationalism Johann Gottlieb Fichte. 

After the defeat of Napoleon and the liberation of Prussia in 1814, citizens went back to their own lives, there was no sense of national pride or German identity. Johann Gottlieb Fichte came up with the idea of Volkschule, a mandatory 9-year educational system provided by the government to combat this.

Homework already existed in Germany at this point in time but it became a requirement in Volkschule. Fichte wasn't motivated purely by educational reform, he wanted to demonstrate the positive impact and power of a centralized government, and assigning homework was a way of showing the state's power to influence personal and public life.

This effort to make citizens more patriotic worked and the system of education and homework slowly spread through Europe.

Horace Mann saw the system at work during a trip to Prussia in the 1840s and brought many of the concepts to America, including homework.   

Who Invented Homework and Why?

Homework's history and objectives have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changing educational goals. Now, that we've gone through its history a bit, let's try to understand the "why". The people or people who made homework understood the advantages of it. Let's consider the following:                                                  

  • Repetition, a key factor in long-term memory retention, is a primary goal of homework. It helps students solidify class-learned information. This is especially true in complex subjects like physics, where physics homework help can prove invaluable to learning effectively.
  • Homework bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, enhancing memory and understanding.
  • It identifies individual student weaknesses, allowing focused efforts to address them.
  • Working independently at their own pace, students can overcome the distractions and constraints of a classroom setting through homework.
  • By creating a continuous learning flow, homework shifts the perspective from viewing each school day as isolated to seeing education as an ongoing process.
  • Homework is crucial for subjects like mathematics and sciences, where repetition is necessary to internalize complex processes.
  • It's a tool for teachers to maximize classroom time, focusing on expanding understanding rather than just drilling fundamentals.
  • Responsibility is a key lesson from homework. Students learn to manage time and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Research skills get honed through homework as students gather information from various sources.
  • Students' creative potential is unleashed in homework, free from classroom constraints.

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Who Invented Homework: Development in the 1900s

Thanks to Horace Mann, homework had become widespread in the American schooling system by 1900, but it wasn't universally popular amongst either students or parents. 

The early 1900s homework bans

In 1901, California became the first state to ban homework. Since homework had made its way into the American educational system there had always been people who were against it for some surprising reasons.

Back then, children were expected to help on farms and family businesses, so homework was unpopular amongst parents who expected their children to help out at home. Many students also dropped out of school early because they found homework tedious and difficult.

Publications like Ladies' Home Journal and The New York Times printed statements and articles about the detrimental effects of homework on children's health. 

The 1930 child labor laws

Homework became more common in the U.S. around the early 1900s. As to who made homework mandatory, the question remains open, but its emergence in the mainstream sure proved beneficial. Why is this?

Well, in 1930, child labor laws were created. It aimed to protect children from being exploited for labor and it made sure to enable children to have access to education and schooling. The timing was just right.

Speaking of homework, if you’re reading this article and have homework you need to attend to, send a “ do my homework ” request on Studyfy and instantly get the help of a professional right now.

Progressive reforms of the 1940s and 50s

With more research into education, psychology and memory, the importance of education became clear. Homework was understood as an important part of education and it evolved to become more useful and interesting to students. 

Homework during the Cold War

Competition with the Soviet Union fueled many aspects of American life and politics. In a post-nuclear world, the importance of Science and Technology was evident.

The government believed that students had to be well-educated to compete with Soviet education systems. This is the time when homework became formalized, accepted, and a fundamental part of the American educational system. 

1980s Nation at Risk

In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education published Nation at Risk:

The Imperative for Educational Reform, a report about the poor condition of education in America.  Still in the Cold War, this motivated the government in 1986 to talk about the benefits of homework in a pamphlet called “What Works” which highlighted the importance of homework. 

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Who Invented Homework: The Modern Homework Debate

Like it or not, homework has stuck through the times, remaining a central aspect in education since the end of the Cold War in 1991. So, who invented homework 😡 and when was homework invented?

We’ve tried to pinpoint different sources, and we’ve understood that many historical figures have contributed to its conception.

Horace Mann, in particular, was the man who apparently introduced homework in the U.S. But let’s reframe our perspective a bit. Instead of focusing on who invented homework, let’s ask ourselves why homework is beneficial in the first place. Let’s consider the pros and cons:

  • Homework potentially enhances memory.
  • Homework helps cultivate time management, self-learning, discipline, and cognitive skills.
  • An excessive amount of work can cause mental health issues and burnout.
  • Rigid homework tasks can take away time for productive and leisurely activities like arts and sports.

Meaningful homework tasks can challenge us and enrich our knowledge on certain topics, but too much homework can actually be detrimental. This is where Studyfy can be invaluable. Studyfy offers homework help.

All you need to do is click the “ do my assignment ” button and send us a request. Need instant professional help? You know where to go now.

Frequently asked questions

Who made homework.

As stated throughout the article, there was no sole "inventor of homework." We've established that homework has already existed in ancient civilizations, where people were assigned educational tasks to be done at home. 

Let's look at ancient Greece; for example, students at the Academy of Athens were expected to recite and remember epic poems outside of their institutions. Similar practices were going on in ancient Egypt, China and Rome. 

This is why we can't ascertain the sole inventor of homework. While history can give us hints that homework was practiced in different civilizations, it's not far-fetched to believe that there have been many undocumented events all across the globe that happened simultaneously where homework emerged. 

Why was homework invented? 

We've answered the question of "who invented homework 😡" and we've recognized that we cannot pinpoint it to one sole inventor. So, let's get back to the question of why homework was invented. 

Homework arose from educational institutions, remained, and probably was invented because teachers and educators wanted to help students reinforce what they learned during class. They also believed that homework could improve memory and cognitive skills over time, as well as instill a sense of discipline. 

In other words, homework's origins can be linked to academic performance and regular students practice. Academic life has replaced the anti-homework sentiment as homework bans proved to cause partial learning and a struggle to achieve conceptual clarity.

Speaking of, don't forget that Studyfy can help you with your homework, whether it's Python homework help or another topic. Don't wait too long to take advantage of expert help when you can do it now. 

Is homework important for my learning journey?

Now that we've answered questions on who created homework and why it was invented, we can ask ourselves if homework is crucial in our learning journey. 

At the end of the day, homework can be a crucial step to becoming more knowledgeable and disciplined over time. 

Exercising our memory skills, learning independently without a teacher obliging us, and processing new information are all beneficial to our growth and evolution. However, whether a homework task is enriching or simply a filler depends on the quality of education you're getting. 

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What Kinds of Homework Seem to be Most Effective?

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what is homework made for

If you made it past the headline, you're likely a student, concerned parent, teacher or, like me, a nerd nostalgist who enjoys basking in the distant glow of Homework Triumphs Past (second-grade report on Custer's Last Stand, nailed it!).

Whoever you are, you're surely hoping for some clarity in the loud, perennial debate over whether U.S. students are justifiably exhausted and nervous from too much homework — even though some international comparisons suggest they're sitting comfortably at the average.

Well, here goes. I've mapped out six, research-based polestars that should help guide you to some reasonable conclusions about homework.

How much homework do U.S. students get?

The best answer comes from something called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP . In 2012, students in three different age groups — 9, 13 and 17 — were asked, "How much time did you spend on homework yesterday?" The vast majority of 9-year-olds (79 percent) and 13-year-olds (65 percent) and still a majority of 17-year-olds (53 percent) all reported doing an hour or less of homework the day before.

Another study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students who reported doing homework outside of school did, on average, about seven hours a week.

If you're hungry for more data on this — and some perspective — check out this exhaustive report put together last year by researcher Tom Loveless at the Brookings Institution.

An hour or less a day? But we hear so many horror stories! Why?

The fact is, some students do have a ton of homework. In high school we see a kind of student divergence — between those who choose or find themselves tracked into less-rigorous coursework and those who enroll in honors classes or multiple Advanced Placement courses. And the latter students are getting a lot of homework. In that 2012 NAEP survey, 13 percent of 17-year-olds reported doing more than two hours of homework the previous night. That's not a lot of students, but they're clearly doing a lot of work.

That also tracks with a famous survey from 2007 — from MetLife — that asked parents what they think of their kids' homework load. Sixty percent said it was just right. Twenty-five percent said their kids are getting too little. Just 15 percent of parents said their kids have too much homework.

Research also suggests that the students doing the most work have something else in common: income. "I think that the debate over homework in some ways is a social class issue," says Janine Bempechat, professor of human development at Wheelock College. "There's no question that in affluent communities, children are really over-taxed, over-burdened with homework."

But the vast majority of students do not seem to have inordinate workloads. And the ones who do are generally volunteering for the tough stuff. That doesn't make it easier, but it does make it a choice.

Do we know how much homework students in other countries are doing?

Sort of. Caveats abound here. Education systems and perceptions of what is and isn't homework can vary remarkably overseas. So any comparison is, to a degree, apples-to-oranges (or, at least, apples-to-pears). A 2012 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development pegged the U.S. homework load for 15-year-olds at around six hours per week. That's just above the study's average. It found that students in Hong Kong are also doing about six hours a week. Much of Europe checks in between four and five hours a week. In Japan, it's four hours. And Korea's near the bottom, at three hours.

How much homework is too much?

Better yet, how much is just right? Harris Cooper at Duke University has done some of the best work on homework. He and his team reviewed dozens of studies, from 1987 to 2003, looking for consensus on what works and what doesn't. A common rule of thumb, he says, is what's called the 10-minute rule. Take the child's grade and multiply by 10. So first-graders should have roughly 10 minutes of homework a night, 40 minutes for fourth-graders, on up to two hours for seniors in high school. A lot of of schools use this. Even the National PTA officially endorses it.

Homework clearly improves student performance, right?

Not necessarily. It depends on the age of the child. Looking over the research, there's little to no evidence that homework improves student achievement in elementary school. Then again, the many experts I spoke with all said the same thing: The point of homework in those primary grades isn't entirely academic. It's about teaching things like time-management and self-direction.

But, by high school the evidence shifts. Harris Cooper's massive review found, in middle and high school, a positive correlation between homework and student achievement on unit tests. It seems to help. But more is not always better. Cooper points out that, depending on the subject and the age of the student, there is a law of diminishing returns. Again, he recommends the 10-minute rule.

What kinds of homework seem to be most effective?

This is where things get really interesting. Because homework should be about learning, right? To understand what kinds of homework best help kids learn, we really need to talk about memory and the brain.

Let's start with something called the spacing effect . Say a child has to do a vocabulary worksheet. The next week, it's a new worksheet with different words and so on. Well, research shows that the brain is better at remembering when we repeat with consistency, not when we study in long, isolated chunks of time. Do a little bit of vocabulary each night, repeating the same words night after night.

Similarly, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, Henry "Roddy" Roediger III , recommends that teachers give students plenty of little quizzes, which he says strengthen the brain's ability to remember. Don't fret. They can be low-stakes or no-stakes, says Roediger: It's the steady recall and repetition that matter. He also recommends, as homework, that students try testing themselves instead of simply re-reading the text or class notes.

There's also something known as interleaving . This is big in the debate over math homework. Many of us — myself included — learned math by focusing on one concept at a time, doing a worksheet to practice that concept, then moving on.

Well, there's evidence that students learn more when homework requires them to choose among multiple strategies — new and old — when solving problems. In other words, kids learn when they have to draw not just from what they learned in class that day but that week, that month, that year.

One last note: Experts agree that homework should generally be about reinforcing what students learned in class (this is especially true in math). Sometimes it can — and should — be used to introduce new material, but here's where so many horror stories begin.

Tom Loveless, a former teacher, offers this advice: "I don't think teachers should ever send brand-new material that puts the parent in the position of a teacher. That's a disaster. My own personal philosophy was: Homework is best if it's material that requires more practice but they've already received initial instruction."

Or, in the words of the National PTA: "Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework."

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

What’s the Purpose of Homework?

Finding the right balance between school and home..

Posted November 4, 2014 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

Steven S./Flickr Commons

Remember the days of sitting in class waiting eagerly for the bell to ring before the teacher said that dreaded word, “homework”? Sighs, rolling eyes, and grunts quickly filled the quiet classroom at the mention of that word. Well, not much has changed today except for the fact that many teachers post assignments electronically. I have yet to see a student jump for joy when the word homework is mentioned, nor have I seen students eager to get home to do their homework (maybe finish it, but not to do it). This brings up the question, “What’s the purpose of homework?”

Research shows mixed results when it comes to homework. Some research has shown that students aren’t doing any more homework than their parents did at their age. In a study, school-aged children and parents completed surveys about how much homework youth have. The results showed that the typical elementary student has 30-45 minutes of homework each night. The average high-school student has about 60 minutes per night. Interestingly, these numbers have remained consistent since 1984!

As an educator, I would like to see a replication of this study. Today's teens are taking college-level courses as early as the ninth and tenth grade. With the push of programs such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Dual Enrollment, it is amazing that teens are not completely burnt out. No wonder 8% of teen's age 13-18 years meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder. Too many teens are spending a lot of time on schoolwork outside of the classroom. Ask today's teen what has him/her so stressed and you'll find that about 80% of them will say school.

Maarten/Flickr Commons

There are those who argue that homework does serve a purpose . For example, it helps to prepare students for national and statewide exams and tests. It helps to reinforce what’s being taught in the classroom. It enables parents to actively engage in their child’s education . Plus, it helps teach fundamental skills such as time management , organization, task completion, as well as responsibility. What’s more important is students get to demonstrate mastery of material without the assistance of a teacher.

How much homework should your child do each night? Organizations such as the National Parent Teacher Association support giving students about 10 minutes of homework each night, per grade level, starting in first grade. So a middle school student would have a full day in school and then an additional 60 minutes of homework after school. Is that too much? Are these guidelines being followed? I would recommend speaking with high-achieving teens and let them share how much of their time is consumed with homework. Many will tell you that they spend hours upon hours each night studying for tests, and preparing for papers and projects, etc.

According to Stanford University , more than a couple of hours of homework a night may be counterproductive. Researchers looked at students in high achieving communities, defined as a median household income exceeding $90,000, and 93% of the students attended post-secondary institutions. Students in these areas spent an average of three-plus hours on homework every night. So imagine a teen spending an entire day at school, going to work or extracurricular activities, then going home to do three or more hours of homework each night; only to get up the next day to do it all again.

Researchers have found that students who spend too much time on homework experience more levels of stress and physical health problems. Too much homework has also been shown to have a negative impact on students’ social lives. This is no surprise to the parents who rarely see their child because he/she is too busy working on homework, or to the parent who gets up at 12:30 A.M. to check to see if their child has made it to bed yet. Overall, high school students shouldn’t be spending over two hours on homework each night.

Judit Klein/Flickr Commons

According to the Stanford study , too much homework leads to:

•Stress: 56% of the students surveyed considered homework a primary source of stress. Less than 1% of the students said homework was not a stressor.

•Poor health: Many students reported sleep deprivation, headaches, stomach problems, weight loss, and exhaustion.

•Less time for a social life : Students reported that spending too much time on homework led to pulling out of enjoyable activities, quitting extracurricular activities, and not spending much time with family and friends.

OK, I know not all students spend a lot of time doing homework. According to a survey by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics , the majority of youth spend an average of seven hours of homework outside of school each week. So while that doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount, what about the student who spends three-plus hours per night? Where is the happy medium?

what is homework made for

There are definitely pros and cons to doing homework. I think the bigger question that educators need to address is “what’s the purpose of the assignment?” Is it merely a way to show parents and administration what's going on in the class? Is it a means to help keep the grades up? Is the homework being graded for accuracy or completion? If so, then what if the assignment is wrong? Have the necessary skills been taught so the student can master the material on his or her own? I read an article once that stated teachers underestimate the amount of homework they assign by 50%. If that's accurate then there is definitely cause for concern.

In summary, there seems to be no clear answer on the homework debate. I started the blog with a question “What’s the purpose of homework?” I’ll end with the same question. If a teacher who is assigning the homework can’t provide a clear rationale behind this question, then maybe the homework shouldn’t be assigned.

I welcome you to weigh in with your thoughts. Do you think students have too much homework? If you are a teen reading this, how much homework do you have on an average night?

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

Raychelle Cassada Lohman n , M.S., LPC, is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens .

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Designing Effective Homework

Best practices for creating homework that raises student achievement

Claire Rivero

Homework. It can be challenging…and not just for students. For teachers, designing homework can be a daunting task with lots of unanswered questions: How much should I assign? What type of content should I cover? Why aren’t students doing the work I assign? Homework can be a powerful opportunity to reinforce the Shifts in your instruction and promote standards-aligned learning, but how do we avoid the pitfalls that make key learning opportunities sources of stress and antipathy?

The nonprofit Instruction Partners recently set out to answer some of these questions, looking at what research says about what works when it comes to homework. You can view their original presentation here , but I’ve summarized some of the key findings you can put to use with your students immediately.

Does homework help?

Consistent homework completion has been shown to increase student achievement rates—but frequency matters. Students who are given homework regularly show greater gains than those who only receive homework sporadically. Researchers hypothesize that this is due to improved study skills and routines practiced through homework that allow students to perform better academically.

Average gains on unit tests for students who completed homework were six percentile points in grades 4–6, 12 percentile points in grades 7–9, and an impressive 24 percentile points in grades 10–12; so yes, homework (done well) does work. [i]

What should homework cover?

While there is little research about exactly what types of homework content lead to the biggest achievement gains, there are some general rules of thumb about how homework should change gradually over time.

In grades 1–5, homework should:

  • Reinforce and allow students to practice skills learned in the classroom
  • Help students develop good study habits and routines
  • Foster positive feelings about school

In grades 6–12, homework should:

  • Prepare students for engagement and discussion during the next lesson
  • Allow students to apply their skills in new and more challenging ways

The most often-heard criticism of homework assignments is that they simply take too long. So how much homework should you assign in order to see results for students? Not surprisingly, it varies by grade. Assign 10-20 minutes of homework per night total, starting in first grade, and then add 10 minutes for each additional grade. [ii] Doing more can result in student stress, frustration, and disengagement, particularly in the early grades.

Why are some students not doing the homework?

There are any number of reasons why students may not complete homework, from lack of motivation to lack of content knowledge, but one issue to watch out for as a teacher is the impact of economic disparities on the ability to complete homework.

Multiple studies [iii] have shown that low-income students complete homework less often than students who come from wealthier families. This can lead to increased achievement gaps between students. Students from low-income families may face additional challenges when it comes to completing homework such as lack of access to the internet, lack of access to outside tutors or assistance, and additional jobs or family responsibilities.

While you can’t erase these challenges for your students, you can design homework that takes those issues into account by creating homework that can be done offline, independently, and in a reasonable timeframe. With those design principles in mind, you increase the opportunity for all your students to complete and benefit from the homework you assign.

The Big Picture

Perhaps most importantly, students benefit from receiving feedback from you, their teacher, on their assignments. Praise or rewards simply for homework completion have little effect on student achievement, but feedback that helps them improve or reinforces strong performance does. Consider keeping this mini-table handy as you design homework:

The act of assigning homework doesn’t automatically raise student achievement, so be a critical consumer of the homework products that come as part of your curriculum. If they assign too much (or too little!) work or reflect some of these common pitfalls, take action to make assignments that better serve your students.

[i] Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

[ii] Cooper, H. (1989a). Homework .White Plains, NY: Longman.

[iii] Horrigan, T. (2015). The numbers behind the broadband ‘homework gap’ http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/20/the-numbers-behind-the-broadband-homework-gap/ and Miami Dade Public Schools. (2009). Literature Review: Homework. http://drs.dadeschools.net/LiteratureReviews/Homework.pdf

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About the Author: Claire Rivero is the Digital Strategy Manager for Student Achievement Partners. Claire leads the organization’s communications and digital promotion work across various channels including email, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, always seeking new ways to reach educators. She also manages Achieve the Core’s blog, Aligned. Prior to joining Student Achievement Partners, Claire worked in the Communications department for the American Red Cross and as a literacy instructor in a London pilot program. Claire holds bachelor’s degrees in English and Public Policy from Duke University and a master’s degree in Social Policy (with a concentration on Education Policy) from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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What’s the point of homework?

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Homework hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. Most children are still sent home with about an hour’s worth of homework each day, mostly practising what they were taught in class.

If we look internationally, homework is assigned in every country that participated in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012.

Across the participating countries, 15-year-old students reported spending almost five hours per week doing homework in 2012. Australian students spent six hours per week on average on homework. Students in Singapore spent seven hours on homework, and in Shanghai, China they did homework for about 14 hours per week on average.

Read more: Aussie students are a year behind students 10 years ago in science, maths and reading

Shanghai and Singapore routinely score higher than Australia in the PISA maths, science and reading tests. But homework could just be one of the factors leading to higher results. In Finland, which also scores higher than Australia, students spent less than three hours on homework per week.

So, what’s the purpose of homework and what does the evidence say about whether it fulfils its purpose?

Why do teachers set homework?

Each school in Australia has its own homework policy developed in consultation with teachers and parents or caregivers, under the guiding principles of state or regional education departments.

For instance, according to the New South Wales homework policy “… tasks should be assigned by teachers with a specific, explicit learning purpose”.

Homework in NSW should also be “purposeful and designed to meet specific learning goals”, and “built on knowledge, skills and understanding developed in class”. But there is limited, if any, guidance on how often homework should be set.

Research based on teacher interviews shows they set homework for a range of reasons. These include to:

establish and improve communication between parents and children about learning

help children be more responsible, confident and disciplined

practise or review material from class

determine children’s understanding of the lesson and/or skills

introduce new material to be presented in class

provide students with opportunities to apply and integrate skills to new situations or interest areas

get students to use their own skills to create work.

So, does homework achieve what teachers intend it to?

Do we know if it ‘works’?

Studies on homework are frequently quite general, and don’t consider specific types of homework tasks. So it isn’t easy to measure how effective homework could be, or to compare studies.

But there are several things we can say.

First, it’s better if every student gets the kind of homework task that benefits them personally, such as one that helps them answer questions they had, or understand a problem they couldn’t quite grasp in class. This promotes students’ confidence and control of their own learning.

Read more: Learning from home is testing students' online search skills. Here are 3 ways to improve them

Giving students repetitive tasks may not have much value . For instance, calculating the answer to 120 similar algorithms, such as adding two different numbers 120 times may make the student think maths is irrelevant and boring. In this case, children are not being encouraged to find solutions but simply applying a formula they learnt in school.

In primary schools, homework that aims to improve children’s confidence and learning discipline can be beneficial. For example, children can be asked to practise giving a presentation on a topic of their interest. This could help build their competence in speaking in front of a class.

Young boy holding a microphone in the living room.

Homework can also highlight equity issues. It can be particularly burdensome for socioeconomically disadvantaged students who may not have a space, the resources or as much time due to family and work commitments. Their parents may also not feel capable of supporting them or have their own work commitments.

According to the PISA studies mentioned earlier, socioeconomically disadvantaged 15 year olds spend nearly three hours less on homework each week than their advantaged peers.

Read more: 'I was astonished at how quickly they made gains': online tutoring helps struggling students catch up

What kind of homework is best?

Homework can be engaging and contribute to learning if it is more than just a sheet of maths or list of spelling words not linked to class learning. From summarising various studies’ findings, “good” homework should be:

personalised to each child rather than the same for all students in the class. This is more likely to make a difference to a child’s learning and performance

achievable, so the child can complete it independently, building skills in managing their time and behaviour

aligned to the learning in the classroom.

If you aren’t happy with the homework your child is given then approach the school. If your child is having difficulty with doing the homework, the teacher needs to know. It shouldn’t be burdensome for you or your children.

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A daughter sits at a desk doing homework while her mom stands beside her helping

Credit: August de Richelieu

Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs in

Joyce epstein, co-director of the center on school, family, and community partnerships, discusses why homework is essential, how to maximize its benefit to learners, and what the 'no-homework' approach gets wrong.

By Vicky Hallett

The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein , co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work," Epstein says.

But after decades of researching how to improve schools, the professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education remains certain that homework is essential—as long as the teachers have done their homework, too. The National Network of Partnership Schools , which she founded in 1995 to advise schools and districts on ways to improve comprehensive programs of family engagement, has developed hundreds of improved homework ideas through its Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program. For an English class, a student might interview a parent on popular hairstyles from their youth and write about the differences between then and now. Or for science class, a family could identify forms of matter over the dinner table, labeling foods as liquids or solids. These innovative and interactive assignments not only reinforce concepts from the classroom but also foster creativity, spark discussions, and boost student motivation.

"We're not trying to eliminate homework procedures, but expand and enrich them," says Epstein, who is packing this research into a forthcoming book on the purposes and designs of homework. In the meantime, the Hub couldn't wait to ask her some questions:

What kind of homework training do teachers typically get?

Future teachers and administrators really have little formal training on how to design homework before they assign it. This means that most just repeat what their teachers did, or they follow textbook suggestions at the end of units. For example, future teachers are well prepared to teach reading and literacy skills at each grade level, and they continue to learn to improve their teaching of reading in ongoing in-service education. By contrast, most receive little or no training on the purposes and designs of homework in reading or other subjects. It is really important for future teachers to receive systematic training to understand that they have the power, opportunity, and obligation to design homework with a purpose.

Why do students need more interactive homework?

If homework assignments are always the same—10 math problems, six sentences with spelling words—homework can get boring and some kids just stop doing their assignments, especially in the middle and high school years. When we've asked teachers what's the best homework you've ever had or designed, invariably we hear examples of talking with a parent or grandparent or peer to share ideas. To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way. Our data show that with "good" assignments, more kids finish their work, more kids interact with a family partner, and more parents say, "I learned what's happening in the curriculum." It all works around what the youngsters are learning.

Is family engagement really that important?

At Hopkins, I am part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools , a research center that studies how to improve many aspects of education to help all students do their best in school. One thing my colleagues and I realized was that we needed to look deeply into family and community engagement. There were so few references to this topic when we started that we had to build the field of study. When children go to school, their families "attend" with them whether a teacher can "see" the parents or not. So, family engagement is ever-present in the life of a school.

My daughter's elementary school doesn't assign homework until third grade. What's your take on "no homework" policies?

There are some parents, writers, and commentators who have argued against homework, especially for very young children. They suggest that children should have time to play after school. This, of course is true, but many kindergarten kids are excited to have homework like their older siblings. If they give homework, most teachers of young children make assignments very short—often following an informal rule of 10 minutes per grade level. "No homework" does not guarantee that all students will spend their free time in productive and imaginative play.

Some researchers and critics have consistently misinterpreted research findings. They have argued that homework should be assigned only at the high school level where data point to a strong connection of doing assignments with higher student achievement . However, as we discussed, some students stop doing homework. This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their assignments, they contribute to—or cause—this "result."

Teachers need to design homework that even struggling students want to do because it is interesting. Just about all students at any age level react positively to good assignments and will tell you so.

Did COVID change how schools and parents view homework?

Within 24 hours of the day school doors closed in March 2020, just about every school and district in the country figured out that teachers had to talk to and work with students' parents. This was not the same as homeschooling—teachers were still working hard to provide daily lessons. But if a child was learning at home in the living room, parents were more aware of what they were doing in school. One of the silver linings of COVID was that teachers reported that they gained a better understanding of their students' families. We collected wonderfully creative examples of activities from members of the National Network of Partnership Schools. I'm thinking of one art activity where every child talked with a parent about something that made their family unique. Then they drew their finding on a snowflake and returned it to share in class. In math, students talked with a parent about something the family liked so much that they could represent it 100 times. Conversations about schoolwork at home was the point.

How did you create so many homework activities via the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program?

We had several projects with educators to help them design interactive assignments, not just "do the next three examples on page 38." Teachers worked in teams to create TIPS activities, and then we turned their work into a standard TIPS format in math, reading/language arts, and science for grades K-8. Any teacher can use or adapt our prototypes to match their curricula.

Overall, we know that if future teachers and practicing educators were prepared to design homework assignments to meet specific purposes—including but not limited to interactive activities—more students would benefit from the important experience of doing their homework. And more parents would, indeed, be partners in education.

Posted in Voices+Opinion

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The role of homework

Homework seems to be an accepted part of teachers’ and students’ routines, but there is little mention of it in ELT literature.

what is homework made for

The role of homework is hardly mentioned in the majority of general ELT texts or training courses, suggesting that there is little question as to its value even if the resulting workload is time-consuming. However, there is clearly room for discussion of homework policies and practices particularly now that technology has made so many more resources available to learners outside the classroom.

Reasons for homework

  • Attitudes to homework
  • Effective homework
  • Types of homework
  • Homework is expected by students, teachers, parents and institutions.
  • Homework reinforces and helps learners to retain information taught in the classroom as well as increasing their general understanding of the language.
  • Homework develops study habits and independent learning. It also encourages learners to acquire resources such as dictionaries and grammar reference books. Research shows that homework also benefits factual knowledge, self-discipline, attitudes to learning and problem-solving skills.
  • Homework offers opportunities for extensive activities in the receptive skills which there may not be time for in the classroom. It may also be an integral part of ongoing learning such as project work and the use of a graded reader.
  • Homework provides continuity between lessons. It may be used to consolidate classwork, but also for preparation for the next lesson.
  • Homework may be used to shift repetitive, mechanical, time-consuming tasks out of the classroom.
  • Homework bridges the gap between school and home. Students, teachers and parents can monitor progress. The institution can involve parents in the learning process.
  • Homework can be a useful assessment tool, as part of continual or portfolio assessment.

Attitudes to homework Teachers tend to have mixed feelings about homework. While recognising the advantages, they observe negative attitudes and poor performance from students. Marking and giving useful feedback on homework can take up a large proportion of a teacher’s time, often after school hours.

  • Students themselves complain that the homework they are given is boring or pointless, referring to homework tasks that consist of studying for tests, doing workbook exercises, finishing incomplete classwork, memorising lists of vocabulary and writing compositions. Where this is actually the case, the negative effects of homework can be observed, typified by loss of interest and a view of homework as a form of punishment.
  • Other negative effects of poorly managed homework include lack of necessary leisure time and an increased differential between high and low achievers. These problems are often the cause of avoidance techniques such as completing homework tasks in class, collaborating and copying or simply not doing the required tasks. In turn, conflict may arise between learners, teachers, parents and the institution.

Effective homework In order for homework to be effective, certain principles should be observed.

  • Students should see the usefulness of homework. Teachers should explain the purpose both of homework in general and of individual tasks.
  • Tasks should be relevant, interesting and varied.
  • Good classroom practice also applies to homework. Tasks should be manageable but achievable.
  • Different tasks may be assigned to different ability groups. Individual learning styles should be taken into account.
  • Homework should be manageable in terms of time as well as level of difficulty. Teachers should remember that students are often given homework in other subjects and that there is a need for coordination to avoid overload. A homework diary, kept by the learner but checked by teachers and parents is a useful tool in this respect.
  • Homework is rarely co-ordinated within the curriculum as a whole, but should at least be incorporated into an overall scheme of work and be considered in lesson planning.
  • Homework tends to focus on a written product. There is no reason why this should be the case, other than that there is visible evidence that the task has been done.
  • Learner involvement and motivation may be increased by encouraging students to contribute ideas for homework and possibly design their own tasks. The teacher also needs to know how much time the students have, what facilities they have at home, and what their preferences are. A simple questionnaire will provide this data.
  • While homework should consolidate classwork, it should not replicate it. Home is the outside world and tasks which are nearer to real-life use of language are appropriate.
  • If homework is set, it must be assessed in some way, and feedback given. While marking by the teacher is sometimes necessary, peer and self-assessment can encourage learner independence as well as reducing the teacher’s workload. Motivating students to do homework is an ongoing process, and encouragement may be given by commenting and asking questions either verbally or in written form in order to demonstrate interest on the teacher’s part, particularly in the case of self-study and project work.

Types of homework There are a number of categories of useful and practicable homework tasks.

  • Workbook-based tasks Most published course materials include a workbook or practice book, mainly including consolidation exercises, short reading texts and an answer key. Most workbooks claim to be suitable for both class and self-study use, but are better used at home in order to achieve a separation of what is done in class and at home. Mechanical practice is thus shifted out of class hours, while this kind of exercise is particularly suited to peer- or self-checking and correction.
  • Preparation tasks Rarely do teachers ask learners to read through the next unit of a coursebook, though there are advantages in involving students in the lesson plan and having them know what is coming. More motivating, however, is asking students to find and bring materials such as photographs and pictures, magazine articles and realia which are relevant to the next topic, particularly where personalisation or relevance to the local context requires adaptation of course materials.
  • Extensive tasks Much can be gained from the use of graded readers, which now often have accompanying audio material, radio and TV broadcasts, podcasts and songs. Sometimes tasks need to be set as guidance, but learners also need to be encouraged to read, listen and watch for pleasure. What is important is that learners share their experiences in class. Extensive reading and listening may be accompanied by dictionary work and a thematic or personalised vocabulary notebook, whereby learners can collect language which they feel is useful.
  • Guided discovery tasks Whereas classroom teaching often involves eliciting language patterns and rules from learners, there is also the option of asking learners to notice language and make deductions for themselves at home. This leads to the sharing of knowledge and even peer teaching in the classroom.
  • Real-world tasks These involve seeing, hearing and putting language to use in realistic contexts. Reading magazines, watching TV, going to the cinema and listening to songs are obvious examples, offering the option of writing summaries and reviews as follow-up activities. Technology facilitates chat and friendship networks, while even in monolingual environments, walking down a shopping street noticing shop and brand names will reveal a lot of language. As with extensive tasks, it is important for learners to share their experiences, and perhaps to collect them in a formal or informal portfolio.
  • Project work It is a good idea to have a class or individual projects running over a period of time. Projects may be based on topics from a coursebook, the locality, interests and hobbies or selected individually. Project work needs to be guided in terms of where to find resources and monitored regularly, the outcome being a substantial piece of work at the end of a course or term of which the learner can claim ownership.

Conclusion Finally, a word about the Internet. The Web appears to offer a wealth of opportunity for self-study. Certainly reference resources make project work easier and more enjoyable, but cutting and pasting can also be seen as an easy option, requiring little originality or understanding. Conferring over homework tasks by email can be positive or negative, though chatting with an English-speaking friend is to be encouraged, as is searching for visual materials. Both teachers and learners are guilty of trawling the Net for practice exercises, some of which are untried, untested and dubious in terms of quality. Learners need guidance, and a starting point is to provide a short list of reliable sites such as the British Council's  LearnEnglish  and the BBC's Learning English  which provide a huge variety of exercises and activities as well as links to other reliable sources. Further reading Cooper, H. Synthesis of Research on Homework . Educational Leadership 47/3, 1989 North, S. and Pillay, H. Homework: re-examining the routin e. ELT Journal 56/2, April 2002 Painter, L. Homework . English Teaching Professional, Issue 10, 1999 Painter, L. Homework . OUP Resource Books for Teachers, 2003

First published in October 2007

Mr. Steve Darn I liked your…

Mr. Steve Darn I liked your method of the role of the homework . Well, I am one of those laggard people. Unfortunately, when it comes to homework, I definitely do it. Because, a student or pupil who understands new topics, of course, does his homework to know how much he understands the new topic. I also completely agree with all of Steve Darn's points above. However, sometimes teachers give a lot of riff-raff homework, just like homework is a human obligation. This is a plus. But in my opinion, first of all, it is necessary to divide the time properly, and then to do many tasks at home. Only then will you become an "excellent student" in the eyes of the teacher. Although we live in the age of technology, there are still some people who do not know how to send homework via email. Some foreign teachers ask to send tasks by email. Constant email updates require time and, in rare cases, a fee. My above points have been the cause of constant discussions.

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What’s the Purpose of Homework?

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  • Homework teaches students responsibility.
  • Homework gives students an opportunity to practice and refine their skills.
  • We give homework because our parents demand it.
  • Our community equates homework with rigor.
  • Homework is a rite of passage.
  • design quality homework tasks;
  • differentiate homework tasks;
  • move from grading to checking;
  • decriminalize the grading of homework;
  • use completion strategies; and
  • establish homework support programs.
  • Always ask, “What learning will result from this homework assignment?” The goal of your instruction should be to design homework that results in meaningful learning.
  • Assign homework to help students deepen their understanding of content, practice skills in order to become faster or more proficient, or learn new content on a surface level.
  • Check that students are able to perform required skills and tasks independently before asking them to complete homework assignments.
  • When students return home, is there a safe and quite place for them to do their homework? I have talked to teachers who tell me they know for certain the home environments of their students are chaotic at best. Is it likely a student will be able to complete homework in such an environment? Is it possible for students to go to an after school program, possibly at the YMCA or a Boys and Girls Club. Assigning homework to students when you know the likelihood of them being able to complete the assignment through little fault of their own doesn’t seem fair to the learner.
  • Consider parents and guardians to be your allies when it comes to homework. Understand their constraints, and, when home circumstances present challenges, consider alternative approaches to support students as they complete homework assignments (e.g., before-or after-school programs, additional parent outreach).

what is homework made for

Howard Pitler is a dynamic facilitator, speaker, and instructional coach with a proven record of success spanning four decades. With an extensive background in professional development, he works with schools and districts internationally and is a regular speaker at national, state, and district conferences and workshops.

Pitler is currently Associate Professor at Emporia State University in Kansas. Prior to that, he served for 19 years as an elementary and middle school principal in an urban setting. During his tenure, his elementary school was selected as an Apple Distinguished Program and named "One of the Top 100 Schools in America" by Redbook Magazine. His middle school was selected as "One of the Top 100 Wired Schools in America" by PC Magazine. He also served for 12 years as a senior director and chief program officer for McREL International, and he is currently serving on the Board of Colorado ASCD. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Apple Teacher, National Distinguished Principal, and Smithsonian Laureate.

He is a published book author and has written numerous magazine articles for  Educational Leadership ® magazine,  EdCircuit , and  Connected Educator , among others.

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Nobody knows what the point of homework is

The homework wars are back.

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As the Covid-19 pandemic began and students logged into their remote classrooms, all work, in effect, became homework. But whether or not students could complete it at home varied. For some, schoolwork became public-library work or McDonald’s-parking-lot work.

Luis Torres, the principal of PS 55, a predominantly low-income community elementary school in the south Bronx, told me that his school secured Chromebooks for students early in the pandemic only to learn that some lived in shelters that blocked wifi for security reasons. Others, who lived in housing projects with poor internet reception, did their schoolwork in laundromats.

According to a 2021 Pew survey , 25 percent of lower-income parents said their children, at some point, were unable to complete their schoolwork because they couldn’t access a computer at home; that number for upper-income parents was 2 percent.

The issues with remote learning in March 2020 were new. But they highlighted a divide that had been there all along in another form: homework. And even long after schools have resumed in-person classes, the pandemic’s effects on homework have lingered.

Over the past three years, in response to concerns about equity, schools across the country, including in Sacramento, Los Angeles , San Diego , and Clark County, Nevada , made permanent changes to their homework policies that restricted how much homework could be given and how it could be graded after in-person learning resumed.

Three years into the pandemic, as districts and teachers reckon with Covid-era overhauls of teaching and learning, schools are still reconsidering the purpose and place of homework. Whether relaxing homework expectations helps level the playing field between students or harms them by decreasing rigor is a divisive issue without conclusive evidence on either side, echoing other debates in education like the elimination of standardized test scores from some colleges’ admissions processes.

I first began to wonder if the homework abolition movement made sense after speaking with teachers in some Massachusetts public schools, who argued that rather than help disadvantaged kids, stringent homework restrictions communicated an attitude of low expectations. One, an English teacher, said she felt the school had “just given up” on trying to get the students to do work; another argued that restrictions that prohibit teachers from assigning take-home work that doesn’t begin in class made it difficult to get through the foreign-language curriculum. Teachers in other districts have raised formal concerns about homework abolition’s ability to close gaps among students rather than widening them.

Many education experts share this view. Harris Cooper, a professor emeritus of psychology at Duke who has studied homework efficacy, likened homework abolition to “playing to the lowest common denominator.”

But as I learned after talking to a variety of stakeholders — from homework researchers to policymakers to parents of schoolchildren — whether to abolish homework probably isn’t the right question. More important is what kind of work students are sent home with and where they can complete it. Chances are, if schools think more deeply about giving constructive work, time spent on homework will come down regardless.

There’s no consensus on whether homework works

The rise of the no-homework movement during the Covid-19 pandemic tapped into long-running disagreements over homework’s impact on students. The purpose and effectiveness of homework have been disputed for well over a century. In 1901, for instance, California banned homework for students up to age 15, and limited it for older students, over concerns that it endangered children’s mental and physical health. The newest iteration of the anti-homework argument contends that the current practice punishes students who lack support and rewards those with more resources, reinforcing the “myth of meritocracy.”

But there is still no research consensus on homework’s effectiveness; no one can seem to agree on what the right metrics are. Much of the debate relies on anecdotes, intuition, or speculation.

Researchers disagree even on how much research exists on the value of homework. Kathleen Budge, the co-author of Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools and a professor at Boise State, told me that homework “has been greatly researched.” Denise Pope, a Stanford lecturer and leader of the education nonprofit Challenge Success, said, “It’s not a highly researched area because of some of the methodological problems.”

Experts who are more sympathetic to take-home assignments generally support the “10-minute rule,” a framework that estimates the ideal amount of homework on any given night by multiplying the student’s grade by 10 minutes. (A ninth grader, for example, would have about 90 minutes of work a night.) Homework proponents argue that while it is difficult to design randomized control studies to test homework’s effectiveness, the vast majority of existing studies show a strong positive correlation between homework and high academic achievement for middle and high school students. Prominent critics of homework argue that these correlational studies are unreliable and point to studies that suggest a neutral or negative effect on student performance. Both agree there is little to no evidence for homework’s effectiveness at an elementary school level, though proponents often argue that it builds constructive habits for the future.

For anyone who remembers homework assignments from both good and bad teachers, this fundamental disagreement might not be surprising. Some homework is pointless and frustrating to complete. Every week during my senior year of high school, I had to analyze a poem for English and decorate it with images found on Google; my most distinct memory from that class is receiving a demoralizing 25-point deduction because I failed to present my analysis on a poster board. Other assignments really do help students learn: After making an adapted version of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book for a ninth grade history project, I was inspired to check out from the library and read a biography of the Chinese ruler.

For homework opponents, the first example is more likely to resonate. “We’re all familiar with the negative effects of homework: stress, exhaustion, family conflict, less time for other activities, diminished interest in learning,” Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, which challenges common justifications for homework, told me in an email. “And these effects may be most pronounced among low-income students.” Kohn believes that schools should make permanent any moratoria implemented during the pandemic, arguing that there are no positives at all to outweigh homework’s downsides. Recent studies , he argues , show the benefits may not even materialize during high school.

In the Marlborough Public Schools, a suburban district 45 minutes west of Boston, school policy committee chair Katherine Hennessy described getting kids to complete their homework during remote education as “a challenge, to say the least.” Teachers found that students who spent all day on their computers didn’t want to spend more time online when the day was over. So, for a few months, the school relaxed the usual practice and teachers slashed the quantity of nightly homework.

Online learning made the preexisting divides between students more apparent, she said. Many students, even during normal circumstances, lacked resources to keep them on track and focused on completing take-home assignments. Though Marlborough Schools is more affluent than PS 55, Hennessy said many students had parents whose work schedules left them unable to provide homework help in the evenings. The experience tracked with a common divide in the country between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

So in October 2021, months after the homework reduction began, the Marlborough committee made a change to the district’s policy. While teachers could still give homework, the assignments had to begin as classwork. And though teachers could acknowledge homework completion in a student’s participation grade, they couldn’t count homework as its own grading category. “Rigorous learning in the classroom does not mean that that classwork must be assigned every night,” the policy stated . “Extensions of class work is not to be used to teach new content or as a form of punishment.”

Canceling homework might not do anything for the achievement gap

The critiques of homework are valid as far as they go, but at a certain point, arguments against homework can defy the commonsense idea that to retain what they’re learning, students need to practice it.

“Doesn’t a kid become a better reader if he reads more? Doesn’t a kid learn his math facts better if he practices them?” said Cathy Vatterott, an education researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After decades of research, she said it’s still hard to isolate the value of homework, but that doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.

Blanket vilification of homework can also conflate the unique challenges facing disadvantaged students as compared to affluent ones, which could have different solutions. “The kids in the low-income schools are being hurt because they’re being graded, unfairly, on time they just don’t have to do this stuff,” Pope told me. “And they’re still being held accountable for turning in assignments, whether they’re meaningful or not.” On the other side, “Palo Alto kids” — students in Silicon Valley’s stereotypically pressure-cooker public schools — “are just bombarded and overloaded and trying to stay above water.”

Merely getting rid of homework doesn’t solve either problem. The United States already has the second-highest disparity among OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations between time spent on homework by students of high and low socioeconomic status — a difference of more than three hours, said Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University and author of No More Mindless Homework .

When she interviewed teachers in Boston-area schools that had cut homework before the pandemic, Bempechat told me, “What they saw immediately was parents who could afford it immediately enrolled their children in the Russian School of Mathematics,” a math-enrichment program whose tuition ranges from $140 to about $400 a month. Getting rid of homework “does nothing for equity; it increases the opportunity gap between wealthier and less wealthy families,” she said. “That solution troubles me because it’s no solution at all.”

A group of teachers at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, made the same point after the school district proposed an overhaul of its homework policies, including removing penalties for missing homework deadlines, allowing unlimited retakes, and prohibiting grading of homework.

“Given the emphasis on equity in today’s education systems,” they wrote in a letter to the school board, “we believe that some of the proposed changes will actually have a detrimental impact towards achieving this goal. Families that have means could still provide challenging and engaging academic experiences for their children and will continue to do so, especially if their children are not experiencing expected rigor in the classroom.” At a school where more than a third of students are low-income, the teachers argued, the policies would prompt students “to expect the least of themselves in terms of effort, results, and responsibility.”

Not all homework is created equal

Despite their opposing sides in the homework wars, most of the researchers I spoke to made a lot of the same points. Both Bempechat and Pope were quick to bring up how parents and schools confuse rigor with workload, treating the volume of assignments as a proxy for quality of learning. Bempechat, who is known for defending homework, has written extensively about how plenty of it lacks clear purpose, requires the purchasing of unnecessary supplies, and takes longer than it needs to. Likewise, when Pope instructs graduate-level classes on curriculum, she asks her students to think about the larger purpose they’re trying to achieve with homework: If they can get the job done in the classroom, there’s no point in sending home more work.

At its best, pandemic-era teaching facilitated that last approach. Honolulu-based teacher Christina Torres Cawdery told me that, early in the pandemic, she often had a cohort of kids in her classroom for four hours straight, as her school tried to avoid too much commingling. She couldn’t lecture for four hours, so she gave the students plenty of time to complete independent and project-based work. At the end of most school days, she didn’t feel the need to send them home with more to do.

A similar limited-homework philosophy worked at a public middle school in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A couple of teachers there turned as much class as possible into an opportunity for small-group practice, allowing kids to work on problems that traditionally would be assigned for homework, Jessica Flick, a math coach who leads department meetings at the school, told me. It was inspired by a philosophy pioneered by Simon Fraser University professor Peter Liljedahl, whose influential book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics reframes homework as “check-your-understanding questions” rather than as compulsory work. Last year, Flick found that the two eighth grade classes whose teachers adopted this strategy performed the best on state tests, and this year, she has encouraged other teachers to implement it.

Teachers know that plenty of homework is tedious and unproductive. Jeannemarie Dawson De Quiroz, who has taught for more than 20 years in low-income Boston and Los Angeles pilot and charter schools, says that in her first years on the job she frequently assigned “drill and kill” tasks and questions that she now feels unfairly stumped students. She said designing good homework wasn’t part of her teaching programs, nor was it meaningfully discussed in professional development. With more experience, she turned as much class time as she could into practice time and limited what she sent home.

“The thing about homework that’s sticky is that not all homework is created equal,” says Jill Harrison Berg, a former teacher and the author of Uprooting Instructional Inequity . “Some homework is a genuine waste of time and requires lots of resources for no good reason. And other homework is really useful.”

Cutting homework has to be part of a larger strategy

The takeaways are clear: Schools can make cuts to homework, but those cuts should be part of a strategy to improve the quality of education for all students. If the point of homework was to provide more practice, districts should think about how students can make it up during class — or offer time during or after school for students to seek help from teachers. If it was to move the curriculum along, it’s worth considering whether strategies like Liljedahl’s can get more done in less time.

Some of the best thinking around effective assignments comes from those most critical of the current practice. Denise Pope proposes that, before assigning homework, teachers should consider whether students understand the purpose of the work and whether they can do it without help. If teachers think it’s something that can’t be done in class, they should be mindful of how much time it should take and the feedback they should provide. It’s questions like these that De Quiroz considered before reducing the volume of work she sent home.

More than a year after the new homework policy began in Marlborough, Hennessy still hears from parents who incorrectly “think homework isn’t happening” despite repeated assurances that kids still can receive work. She thinks part of the reason is that education has changed over the years. “I think what we’re trying to do is establish that homework may be an element of educating students,” she told me. “But it may not be what parents think of as what they grew up with. ... It’s going to need to adapt, per the teaching and the curriculum, and how it’s being delivered in each classroom.”

For the policy to work, faculty, parents, and students will all have to buy into a shared vision of what school ought to look like. The district is working on it — in November, it hosted and uploaded to YouTube a round-table discussion on homework between district administrators — but considering the sustained confusion, the path ahead seems difficult.

When I asked Luis Torres about whether he thought homework serves a useful part in PS 55’s curriculum, he said yes, of course it was — despite the effort and money it takes to keep the school open after hours to help them do it. “The children need the opportunity to practice,” he said. “If you don’t give them opportunities to practice what they learn, they’re going to forget.” But Torres doesn’t care if the work is done at home. The school stays open until around 6 pm on weekdays, even during breaks. Tutors through New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development programs help kids with work after school so they don’t need to take it with them.

As schools weigh the purpose of homework in an unequal world, it’s tempting to dispose of a practice that presents real, practical problems to students across the country. But getting rid of homework is unlikely to do much good on its own. Before cutting it, it’s worth thinking about what good assignments are meant to do in the first place. It’s crucial that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds tackle complex quantitative problems and hone their reading and writing skills. It’s less important that the work comes home with them.

Jacob Sweet is a freelance writer in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, among other publications.

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Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?

It's mostly good, especially for the sciences, but it also can be bad

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Homework isn't fun for students to do or for teachers to grade, so why do it? Here are some reasons why homework is good and why it's bad.

Why Homework Is Good

Here are 10 reasons why homework is good, especially for the sciences, such as chemistry:

  • Doing homework teaches you how to learn on your own and work independently. You'll learn how to use resources such as texts, libraries, and the internet. No matter how well you thought you understood the material in class, there will be times when you'll get stuck doing homework. When you face the challenge, you learn how to get help, how to deal with frustration, and how to persevere.
  • Homework helps you learn beyond the scope of the class. Example problems from teachers and textbooks show you how to do an assignment. The acid test is seeing whether you truly understand the material and can do the work on your own. In science classes, homework problems are critically important. You see concepts in a whole new light, so you'll know how equations work in general, not just how they work for a particular example. In chemistry, physics, and math, homework is truly important and not just busywork.
  • It shows you what the teacher thinks is important to learn, so you'll have a better idea of what to expect on a quiz or test .
  • It's often a significant part of your grade . If you don't do it, it could cost you , no matter how well you do on exams.
  • Homework is a good opportunity to connect parents, classmates, and siblings with your education. The better your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in class.
  • Homework, however tedious it might be, teaches responsibility and accountability. For some classes, homework is an essential part of learning the subject matter.
  • Homework nips procrastination in the bud. One reason teachers give homework and attach a big part of your grade to it is to motivate you to keep up. If you fall behind, you could fail.
  • How will you get all your work done before class? Homework teaches you time management and how to prioritize tasks.
  • Homework reinforces the concepts taught in class. The more you work with them, the more likely you are to learn them. 
  • Homework can help boost self-esteem . Or, if it's not going well, it helps you identify problems before they get out of control.

Sometimes Homework Is Bad

So, homework is good because it can boost your grades , help you learn the material, and prepare you for tests. It's not always beneficial, however. Sometimes homework hurts more than it helps. Here are five ways homework can be bad:

  • You need a break from a subject so you don't burn out or lose interest. Taking a break helps you learn.
  • Too much homework can lead to copying and cheating.
  • Homework that is pointless busywork can lead to a negative impression of a subject (not to mention a teacher).
  • It takes time away from families, friends, jobs, and other ways to spend your time.
  • Homework can hurt your grades. It forces you to make time management decisions, sometimes putting you in a no-win situation. Do you take the time to do the homework or spend it studying concepts or doing work for another subject? If you don't have the time for the homework, you could hurt your grades even if you ace the tests and understand the subject.
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what is homework made for

An Age-By-Age Guide to Helping Kids Manage Homework

D o you ever wonder whether homework is gauging the child’s ability to complete assignments or the parent’s? On one end of the spectrum, a parent might never mention homework and assume it gets done independently; on the other end are the parents who micromanage to be sure every worksheet is absolutely perfect.

Being too laissez faire about homework might deny a child the support they need to develop executive functioning skills, but being too involved could stifle their independence. So how much parent participation in homework is actually appropriate throughout a child’s education?

Basic homework tips

According to Scholastic , you should follow these rules of thumb to support your child during homework (without going overboard):

  • Stay nearby and available for questions without getting right in the middle of homework.
  • Avoid the urge to correct mistakes unless your child asks for help.
  • Instead of nagging, set up a homework routine with a dedicated time and place.
  • Teach time management for a larger project by helping them break it into chunks.

Child psychologist Dr. Emily W. King recently wrote about rethinking homework in her newsletter. King explains at what ages kids are typically able to do homework independently, but she writes that each child’s ability to concentrate at the end of the day and use executive functioning skills for completing tasks is very individual. I talked to her for more information on how much parental involvement in homework completion is needed, according to a child’s age and grade level.

Kindergarten to second grade

Whether children even need homework this early is a hot debate. Little ones are still developing fine motor skills and their ability to sit still and pay attention at this age.

“If a child is given homework before their brain and body are able to sit and focus independently, then we are relying on the parent or other caregivers to sit with the child to help them focus,” King said. “Think about when the child is able to sit and focus on non-academic tasks like dinner, art, or music lessons. This will help you tease out executive functioning skills from academic understanding.”

Elementary-age children need time for unstructured play and structured play like music, arts, and sports. They need outside time, free time, and quiet time, King said. For children who are not ready for independent work, nightly reading with another family member is enough “homework,” she said.

Third to fifth grades

Many children will be able to do homework independently in grades 3-5. Even then, their ability to focus and follow through may vary from day to day.

“Most children are ready for practicing independent work between third and fifth grade, but maybe not yet in the after-school hours when they are tired and want to rest or play. We need to begin exposing children to organization and structure independently in late elementary school to prepare them for more independence in middle school,” King said.

Neurodivergent kids may need more parental support for several years before they work independently.

“Neurodivergent children, many of whom have executive functioning weaknesses, are not ready to work independently in elementary school. Children without executive functioning weaknesses (e.g., the ability to remain seated and attend to a task independently) are able to do this somewhere between third and fifth grade, but it’s very possible they can work independently at school but be too tired to do it later in the afternoon,” King said. “We need to follow the child’s skills and give them practice to work independently when they seem ready. Of course, if a child wants to do extra work after school due to an interest, go for it.”

For students who are not ready to work independently in middle school, it is better to reduce the amount of homework they are expected to complete so they can practice independence and feel successful.

Middle school

In sixth grade and later, kids are really developing executive functioning skills like planning, organizing, paying attention, initiating, shifting focus, and execution. They will still need your encouragement to keep track of assignments, plan their time, and stick to a homework routine.

“Middle school students need lots of organization support and putting systems in place to help them keep track of assignments, due dates, and materials,” King said.

High school

By this point, congratulations: You can probably be pretty hands-off with homework. Remain open and available if your teen needs help negotiating a problem, but executing plans should be up to them now.

“In high school, parents are working to put themselves out of a job and begin stepping back as children take the lead on homework. Parents of high schoolers are ‘homework consultants,’” King said. “We are there to help solve problems, talk through what to say in an email to a teacher, but we are not writing the emails or talking to the teachers for our kids.”

What if homework is not working for them (or you)

There are a number of reasons a child might not be managing homework at the same level as their peers, including academic anxiety and learning disabilities.

If your child is showing emotional distress at homework time, it might be a sign that they have run out of gas from the structure, socialization, and stimulation they have already been through at school that day. One way to support kids is to teach them how to have a healthy balance of work and play time.

“When we ask students to keep working after school when their tank is on empty, we likely damage their love of learning and fill them with dread for tomorrow,” King wrote in her newsletter.

King said in her experience as a child psychologist, the amount of homework support a child needs is determined by their individual abilities and skills more than their age or grade level.

“All of these steps vary for a neurodivergent child and we are not following these guidelines by age or grade but rather by their level of skills development to become more independent,” she said. “In order to independently complete homework, a child must be able to have attended to the directions in class, brought the materials home, remember to get the materials out at home, remember to begin the task, understand the task, remain seated and attention long enough to complete the task, be able to complete the task, return the work to their backpack, and return the work to the teacher. If any of these skills are weak or the child is not able to do these independently, there will be a breakdown in the system of homework. You can see why young students and neurodivergent students would struggle with this process.”

If you and your child have trouble meeting homework expectations, talk to their teacher about what could be contributing to the problem and how to modify expectations for them.

“Get curious about your child’s skill level at that time of day,” King said. “Are they able to work independently at school but not at home? Are they not able to work independently any time of day? Are they struggling with this concept at school, too? When are they successful?”

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    What Is Homework? Homework is work that teachers give students to complete outside of the school day. Homework is meant to provide students with practice for what was learned in school or an extension of what was done in class. Students are expected to complete the homework and return to school with the completed homework assignment.

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    Homework improves brain function and enhances cognitive abilities. By practicing and repeating new skills through homework, students can enhance their memory and retain knowledge. Homework helps students build suitable study habits, learn time management, and realize personal responsibility. Homework fosters independence and the ability to use ...

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    Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That's problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

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    Basic homework tips. Stay nearby and available for questions without getting right in the middle of homework. Avoid the urge to correct mistakes unless your child asks for help. Instead of nagging ...