Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Teacher Assessment of Homework

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Teacher Assessment of Homework

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the perceptions of 247 teachers about potential helpful and harmful effects of homework on the students. In addition, they were asked to respond to eight questions about the efficacy of their homework assignments. Results indicated that teachers in this study had beliefs about the benefits of homework that were consistent with the literature, namely, that homework helped their students through reinforcement and review. They also expressed concern that homework might lead to frustrations, stress, lack of family time, and reduced time to play and experience life as a child. Finally, every teacher responded that they and their schools had never undertaken a study to determine the efficacy of homework.

Introduction

Homework is an inevitable part of every student's life from September through June. It is assigned for a number of reasons ranging from reinforcement and practice to developing character and skills (Cooper, 1989). It is often used as a factor in determining grades at the end of each academic term and it is considered a basic part of education in general (Kralovec and Buell, 2000). As Roderique et al., (1994) note, homework's importance is attested to in that school districts have policies regulating everything from how much time per grade-level should be allotted, how to involve parents, and when and where homework should take place. In addition, as every teacher knows, if homework is not assigned parents will quickly and strongly insist that it be given. Homework is such a part of the education culture, that it is synonymous with the very word schooling.

Even though homework is strongly advocated by school boards and professional educational organizations, it is not without its critics, both public and professional. At the public level, there have been scores of editorials, cover stories, and articles in popular magazines such as, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Daffy News, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post. Within the professional world of educational researchers and policy analysts, there have also been serious concerns about the efficacy of homework (see Cooper, 1989, 1994; Epstein and Pinkow, 1988; Gill & Schlossman, 1996; and, Kralovec & Buell, 2000). Teacher, parent, and student opinions about homework abound (Roderique, et al., 1994) however, solid evidence that homework is more or less beneficial for specific populations of students, at specific grade levels, for various subjects, and with different types of homework, is not altogether conclusive (Check & Ziebell, 1980; Cooper, 1989; Epstein, Polloway, Foley, & Patton, 1992; Firth, 1991; Heller, Spooner, Anderson, & Mims, 1989; Hodapp & Hodapp, 1992; and, Salend and Schliff, 1989). The complexity of the homework issue and the inability to have adequate control groups for specific types of research may render efficacy too vague for in depth and comprehensive assessment of homework.

Although there is widespread belief by parents and educators alike that homework is beneficial, it is, and has been the source of constant criticism throughout the past hundred years (Kralovec and Buell, 2000). Historically, one of the first to publicly challenge the homework mystique was Edward Bok, Editor of The Ladies Home Journal (1900), who brought criticism of homework into the popular arena by attacking it as an invasion of family time and for being unsupervised and left to the whims of unqualified parents. Burnham (1905), later admonished schools for denying children their right for leisure activities and play. He also declared that the value of homework should be based on data not simply opinions and that differential benefits would depend on the different academic subjects being considered as well as student grade level. In every decade since the early 1900s there have been critics who have attacked and challenged schools for their homework practices and policies. …

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