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The Case FOR and AGAINST Homework

The Case FOR and AGAINST Homework

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The Case FOR and AGAINST Homework

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  1. The Case FOR and AGAINSTHomework Based on the article: “The Case For and Against Homework” (Marzano and Pickering 2007) Summarized by: Angela Orlikowski Additions by: Lori Key

  2. Provocative Quotations* • “Homework is one of the sacred cows of education” (Conrath 1992) • “According to a 2003 study, that homework load has since increased to 22 minutes a day. That is less time than it takes to watch one episode of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’, but maybe I am missing something.” (Challis, President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, 2006)

  3. And More Provocative Quotations* • “Students view [homework] as a monster, and it is the bane of all parents” (Shultz [NPTA] 1995) • Abolishing HW completely is like a school “throwing away a powerful instructional tool” (Cooper 2007) • Number One Misconception about HW: The best teachers (and the best schools) give homework regularly. (Kohn 1996)

  4. Attitudes Toward HomeworkTIMELINE • 1910-1920: POSITIVE HW helped create disciplined minds • 1940: NEGATIVE HW interfered with other home activities • 1950: POSITIVE Launch of Sputnik led to concern that“U.S. education lacked rigor…more rigorous homework” (p.1) • 1980: NEGATIVE “Homework could be detrimental to students’ mental health” (p.1) • 1980 -1990: POSITIVE Increased homework as a reaction to lower international and national standardized test scores • Today: Intersection between positive and negative attitudes toward homework.

  5. The Common Ground* • HW that is inappropriate has little or no benefit and may even decrease achievement • “Even for the oldest students, too much HW may diminish its effectiveness or even become counterproductive” (Cooper, Robinson, and Patall 2006)

  6. The Case FOR Homework* “Homework Research and Policy: A Review of the Literature” (Cooper 1994) Immediate effects on achievement and learning: • better retention of factual knowledge (2) increased understanding and critical thinking & problem solving

  7. The Case FOR Homework* Long-term effects (1) learning encouraged outside of classroom (2) improved attitude toward school (3) better study habits and skills (4) improved self-direction, self-discipline, time-management

  8. The Case FOR Homework* • Homework appears to have more positive effects for certain groups of students -Older benefit more than younger (Muhlenbruck, 2000) -Students from low-income homes may not benefit as much as those from higher- income homes (Scott-Jones, 1984) -Students with learning disabilities benefit from homework under certain conditions (Rosenberg, 1989)

  9. The Case FOR Homework The Battle Over Homework (Cooper 2007) At different grade levels homework has different purposes: • Early Grades: “It should foster positive attitudes, habits, and character traits; permit appropriate parent involvement; and reinforce learning of simple skills introduced in class” • Upper Elementary Grades: “It should play a more direct role in fostering improved school achievement” • 6th Grade and Beyond: “It should play an important role in improving standardized test scores and grades”

  10. The Case FOR Homework* • Students with HW score better on standardized tests than students without: 8-28% (Cooper 1994; Reese 1997; Wahlberg 1999; Cooper 2006 and 5 other studies) • By Grade Levels 10-12 : 24% 7-9 : 12% 4-6 : 6% K-3 : no significant change (Cooper 1989)

  11. The Case AGAINST Homework The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning (Kralovec and Buell 2000) • “Asserted that homework contributes to a corporate style, competitive U.S. culture that overvalues work to the detriment of personal and familial well-being” • Disadvantaged children whose environments make it impossible for them to complete their assignments are penalized unintentionally

  12. The Case AGAINST Homework The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It (Bennett and Kalish 2006) • Quantity: Giving students too much homework ruins important family time and adversely affects health of students • Quality: Teachers are not trained well enough or AT ALL in how to assign homework • Reduce the amount of homework, design more valuable assignments, and avoid homework altogether over weekends and holidays

  13. The Case AGAINST Homework* “Homework is a Complicated Thing” (Kohn 1996) Five misconceptions that perpetuate HW: • The best teachers (and the best schools) give homework regularly. • More homework is better than less. • Parents want their children to have more homework. • Homework supports what students learn in school. • Homework fosters discipline and personal responsibility.

  14. The Case AGAINST Homework The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (Kohn 2006) • Statistics are skewed and research does not support a strong case for HW. “In short, regardless of one’s criteria, there is no reason to think that most students would be at any sort of disadvantage if homework were sharply reduced or even eliminated.” • Teachers should only assign homework when they can justify that the assignments are ‘beneficial’ • Schools should adopt a ‘default status’ of NO HW rather than the expectation of assigning HW.

  15. Issues for EFFECTIVE Homework • Time Spent on Homework • Parent Involvement

  16. Time Spent on Homework • “HW must be realistic in length and difficulty given the students’ abilities to work independently. Thus, 5-10 minutes might be appropriate for 4th graders, whereas 30-60 minutes might be appropriate for college-bound high school students” (Good and Brophy 2003) • “10 Minute Rule” (Cooper 2007)

  17. Parent Involvement • Parents feel like they are not prepared to help their children with homework and stress occurs when they make an effort • Interactive Homework (Epstein 2001) • Clear guidelines are given to parents explaining their role • Parents are not expected to be experts or teach the content • Parents ask questions to children asking them to summarize or clarify their learning • Recommendations for homework (Good and Brophy 2003) • Students show and explain work completed at school to their parents and get their reactions • Students “interview their parents to develop information about parental experiences or opinions related to topics studied in social studies” (p.6) • Effects: • Engagement in conversation • Extending student learning • Enjoyable rather than threatening experiences!

  18. Bibliography – The Case For Cooper, Harris. (1994). “Homework research and policy: A review of the literature”. Research/Practice, 2(2) [Online]. Available: [1997, October 20]. Cooper, Harris. (2001). “Homework for All – In Moderation”. Educational Leadership, Volume 58, No. 7 (April 2001): 34-38. " Key lessons: What research says about the value of homework - Center for Public Education ." Welcome to the Center for Public Education! - Center for Public Education . 22 Apr. 2009 <>. Marzano, Robert , and Debra J. Pickering. "Marzano Research." The Case For and Against Homework. 22 Apr. 2009 <>. (Note: Published in Educational Leadership, March, 2007, Pages 74-79).

  19. Bibliography – The Case Against Bennett, Sara, and Nancy Kalish. The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007. (Sara Bennett’s website: Conrath, Jerry. Effective schools for discouraged and disadvantaged students: Rethinking Some Sacred Cows of Research. Contemporary Education, 1992. Corno, Lyn. (1996). Homework is a complicated thing. Educational Researcher, 25(8), 27-30. Kohn, Alfie. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Cambridge: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2007. On-line article: