Indiana University study: Homework doesn’t improve grades

17 Nov

Moi wrote about homework in Pros and cons of homework:

Vicki Abeles directed a very popular documentary, “The Race to Nowhere.” John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS writes in the Huffington Post article, ‘Race to Nowhere:’ It’s no ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’, ‘ but it’s Honest:

By now it seems we have all reviewed “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” but what’s surprising is that WFS is just one of four or five movies about education now out. A few weeks ago I reviewed WFS, and now I’ve decided to review the rest of them, beginning with “Race to Nowhere,” the 2009 film made by first-time director (and angry parent) Vicki Abeles.

Race to Nowhere” is a film about how schools and parental pressure are affecting students’ mental and emotional wellbeing. WFS portrays our schools as undemanding; “Race to Nowhere” says the opposite — that we are killing our kids, figuratively and sometimes literally….

Some moments in “Race to Nowhere” just jump off the screen. One that I found particularly compelling: a young woman speaking on a panel asks her audience to identify the worst question a parent can ask his or her child. Turns out, she says, it’s a one-word question. Just

And?” As in this circumstance:
Child: “I’m taking three honors courses.”
Parent: “And?”
Child: “Well, I have the lead in the school play.”
Parent: “And?”
Child: “I made the volleyball team.”
Parent: “And?”You get the picture. The parents are never satisfied, and the child can never relax. Life for these students is nothing but stress and unrealistic expectations. The world the film conjures up is all too familiar: students are expected to perform and produce but aren’t given time to play. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-merrow/race-to-nowhere-its-no-wa_b_751330.html

See, Why ‘Race to Nowhere’ documentary is wrong http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/why-race-to-nowhere-documentary-is-wrong/2011/04/03/AFBt27VC_blog.ht

Huffington Post reports about the value of homework in the article, Homework Doesn’t Improve Student Course Grades, But Could Boost Standardized Test Scores: Study:

There has been much debate surround the value of homework, and a recent study led by an Indiana University School of Education faculty member has found little correlation between time spent on homework and better course grades for math and science students. It did, however, did identify a positive relationship between homework time and performance on standardized tests.

The authors examined survey and transcript data of more than 18,000 10th grade students, focusing on individual classes. They suggest that factors like class participation and attendance may mitigate the association of homework to stronger grade performance, while the type of homework assigned may cater to standardized test preparation versus retaining knowledge of class material.

According to the report’s author, IU School of Education assistant professor Adam Maltese, “if students are spending more time on homework, they’re getting exposed to the types of questions and the procedures for answering questions that are not so different from standardized tests.”

The time spent on homework reported by most students represents the equivalent of 100-180 50-minute class periods of extra learning time each year, according to the report. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/16/study-finds-little-correl_n_2145434.html?utm_hp_ref=education

Here is the Indiana University press release:

IU study: Homework doesn’t improve course grades but could boost standardized test scores

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 15, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A study led by an Indiana University School of Education faculty member finds little correlation between time spent on homework and better course grades for math and science students, but a positive relationship between homework time and performance on standardized tests.

“When Is Homework Worth the Time?” is a recently published work of Adam Maltese, assistant professor of science education in the IU School of Education, along with co-authors Robert H. Tai, associate professor of science education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and Xitao Fan, dean of education at the University of Macau.

The authors examined survey and transcript data of more than 18,000 10th-grade students to uncover explanations for academic performance. The data focused on individual classes for students, examining the outcomes through the transcripts for students from two nationwide samples collected in 1990 and 2002 by the National Center for Education Statistics. Contrary to much of the published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not. But the analysis found a positive association between student performance on standardized tests and the time they spent on homework.

“Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be,” Maltese said.

The authors suggest in their conclusions that other factors such as class participation and attendance may mitigate the association of homework to stronger grade performance. They also indicate that the types of homework assignments typically given may work better toward standardized test preparation than for retaining knowledge of class material. Maltese puts forward the idea that “if students are spending more time on homework, they’re getting exposed to the types of questions and the procedures for answering questions that are not so different from standardized tests.”

Maltese said the genesis for the study was a concern about whether a traditional and ubiquitous educational practice, such as homework, is associated with students achieving at a higher level in math and science. Many media reports about education compare U.S. students unfavorably to high-achieving math and science students from across the world. The 2007 documentary film “Two Million Minutes” compared two Indiana students to students in India and China, taking particular note of how much more time the Indian and Chinese students spent on studying or completing homework.

“We’re not trying to say that all homework is bad,” Maltese said. “It’s expected that students are going to do homework. This is more of an argument that it should be quality over quantity. So in math, rather than doing the same types of problems over and over again, maybe it should involve having students analyze new types of problems or data. In science, maybe the students should write concept summaries instead of just reading a chapter and answering the questions at the end.”

This issue is particularly relevant given that the time spent on homework reported by most students translates into the equivalent of 100 to 180 50-minute class periods of extra learning time each year.

“The results from this study imply that homework should be purposeful,” Tai said, “and that the purpose must be understood by both the teacher and the students.”

The authors conclude that given current policy initiatives of the U.S. Department of Education, states and school districts to improve science, technology, engineering and math education, more evaluation should be done about how to use homework time more effectively. They suggest more research be done on the form and function of homework assignments.

“In today’s current educational environment, with all the activities taking up children’s time both in school and out of school, the purpose of each homework assignment must be clear and targeted,” Tai said. “With homework, more is not better.”

“If homework is going to be such an important component of learning in American schools, it should be used in some way that’s more beneficial,” Maltese said. “More thought needs to be given to this, rather than just repeating problems already done in class.”

The full article is published in The High School Journal.

Citation:

When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association Between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math

Adam V. Maltese, Robert H. Tai, Xitao Fan

From: The High School Journal
Volume 96, Number 1, Fall 2012
pp. 52-72 | 10.1353/hsj.2012.0015

Abstract

Abstract:

Even with the history of debate over the merits of homework, there are significant gaps in the research record regarding its benefit to students. The focus of this study is on the association between time spent on homework and academic performance in science and math by assessing survey and transcript data from two nationally representative samples of high school students collected in 1990 and 2002. Using multiple linear regressions and controlling for students’ background, motivation, and prior achievement, we investigated how much variance in science and math course grades and achievement test scores could be explained by time spent on homework in those classes. The results indicate that there is no consistent significant relationship between time spent on homework and grades, but a consistently positive significant relationship between homework and performance on standardized exams.

There are certain populations of children who will benefit from homework assignments.

Education is quite often a one-size-fits-all approach. Each population of children is different and education strategies MUST be designed to address the needs of the child. For some children whose backgrounds are not as enriched as others; it may mean homework is necessary to bring them up to grade level. Education programs must be tailored to the needs of each child.

Resources:

Homework Help                                                                              http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/school/homework_help.html

Homework Tips for Parents                                              http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/homework/homeworktips.pdf

Related:

Pros and cons of homework                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2012/06/03/pros-and-cons-of-homework/

Is homework a necessary evil?                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/04/07/is-homework-a-necessary-evil/

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One Response to “Indiana University study: Homework doesn’t improve grades”

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  1. Brookings study: Homework amount consistent, people complaining more | drwilda - March 18, 2014

    […] Indiana University study: Homework doesn’t improve grades https://drwilda.com/2012/11/17/indiana-university-study-homework-doesnt-improve-grades/ […]

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