Flutterby™! : Homework

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2005-06-01 16:40:37.725255+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

The article I was going to link to below was actually just a reposting of a Penn State Live press release (mirrored here) about work by Dr.s Gerald K. LeTendre and David P. Baker that claims that homework is not correlated with academic achievement:

Their findings indicated a frequent lack of positive correlation between the average amount of homework assigned in a nation and corresponding level of academic achievement. For example, many countries with the highest scoring students, such as Japan, the Czech Republic and Denmark, have teachers who give little homework. "At the other end of the spectrum, countries with very low average scores -- Thailand, Greece, Iran -- have teachers who assign a great deal of homework," Baker noted.

LeTendre sums it up:

"American students appear to do as much homework as their peers overseas -- if not more -- but still only score around the international average," LeTendre said. "Undue focus on homework as a national quick-fix, rather than a focus on issues of instructional quality and equity of access to opportunity to learn, may lead a country into wasted expenditures of time and energy."

My impression has been that while homework may be busywork which keeps some kids out of trouble, it is merely extra workload which prevents many kids from doing their own projects and their own learning on their own time.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-06-01 18:14:39.579803+00 by: Jerry Kindall

It wasn't until college that I encountered a subject difficult enough that I actually needed to practice (i.e. do homework) to do well in it. Homework before then was a complete timewaster. They could alleviate this problem in two different ways: eliminate the homework, or make the material more challenging. As a student I would have preferred #1 for obvious reasons, but as an adult I think #2 is the way to go.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-06-01 18:56:26.124504+00 by: polly

as a parent it was difficult for me to help my daughter with her high school algebra....i had to have help when i went back to college (lol), it seemed to me at the time that if the child was unable to do the homework at home-there wasn't anyone at home that could figure out HOW to do the math-a level of anxiety and frustration was generated on the child AND parent.

as a teacher...homework should be the CLASSWORK that was not finished during the day, then brought back to school the following day. a child's brain needs to rest from the academics of the day...i say... GIVE THE KIDS A BREAK!! NO HOMEWORK! :>

#Comment Re: made: 2005-06-02 11:52:10.347487+00 by: petronius

So, they have little homework in Japan? I've been there, and I saw 13 year-old school kids with huge bookbags waiting for commuter trains at 10:30 at night. They were returning from cram schools. Maybe the teachers don't give much homework because the cram schools are covering the territory for them.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-06-02 15:59:02.957825+00 by: ebradway

It's interesting to note that as an online graduate student, ALL of my classwork is homework. There is no passive learning. I have to read the text and extra readings. The courses also emphasize project work over exams. The emphasis is self-teaching through task accomplishment. For me, at least, this works really well. After, I'm the kind of person who taught himself BASIC by typing in games from Compute! magazine and debugging my typos. Give me a goal and I'll tackle whatever knowledge is necessary to accomplish it.

In my last year of high school, I took Calculus. The teacher only gave take-home tests. I spent an average of 12 hours on each one. After all, I couldn't live with not getting a perfect grade on a take-home test! She chose the problems carefully so that you had to know what you were doing to finish it. You also had to show all work. She was a lousy teacher, but the tests actually taught me something! BTW, the final exam only took two hours. She told us we could use any method we learned to solve the integral problems. It's amazing how well the integral tables in a CRC Physics manual work!