Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

SRL and EFL Homework: Gender and Grade Effects

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

SRL and EFL Homework: Gender and Grade Effects

Article excerpt


This study investigates the associations between gender and school grade level and some process variables such as: students' English as Foreign Language (EFL) homework attitudes, time spent on homework and students' self regulated learning (SRL) processes. Students' EFL self-efficacy beliefs are also considered. A significant multivariate effect of gender and school grade on those same variables is found, indicating boys' lower scores and also a descendent curve along schooling taking the whole sample. Implications for school policy and future research are discussed.


Defined as "... tasks assigned to students by schoolteachers that are intended to be carried out during nonschool hours" (Cooper, 2001, p. 3), homework is also said to be the instructional strategy influenced by more factors than any other one. In spite of all this, homework is still one of the most extensively used teaching strategies all over the academic world. Behind a simple definition, one can say, hides one of the most complex educational tools, in the sense that homework goes beyond the school walls and invades the physical and familiar environment of each learner. Teachers, parents and particularly students, are the trilogy in the homework issue, its main vectors and actors (Cooper, 2001; Walberg & Paik, 2000).

Being a good way of extending the school day, homework gives students the opportunity to practice and learn the material studied at school with no time constraints and at their own pace. According to literature, time spent on homework is a good predictor and promoter of school achievement (Cooper, 1989; Keith, Keith, & Page., 1985). However, besides the time spent on the assigned tasks, some researchers stress their quality and adequacy as key factors on the impact homework has on achievement (Trautwein & Koller, 2003). Many of our students, especially those at risk, fail to do homework because they lack either the appropriate resources or the necessary selfdiscipline to complete homework. Unable to set daily goals and to manage time properly, our students' homework lacks quantity and quality (Mourao, 2004). Besides, as later grades require students to be personally responsible not only for completing assigned academic tasks but also for self-directed studying, it would seem that sooner or later our present students will be at risk.

This paper presents some of the findings of a research study conducted in Portugal with a large sample of fifth to ninth graders, from compulsory education. It intended to measure the associations between gender and school grade level and the following process variables: students' English as Foreign Language (EFL) homework attitudes and time on homework, but also students' self regulated learning processes and study time. Students' EFL self-efficacy beliefs were also considered in the present study.

Self-regulated learning cyclical nature

Becoming self-regulated implies students' metacognitive, motivational and behavioral active participation in their own learning process (Zimmerman, 2000). Students' degree of self-regulation may vary in terms of being more or less capable of generating thoughts, feelings and actions to reach their goals. Students may be more or less self-regulated in the extent to which they are able to properly manage specific processes, use effective learning strategies and find the right responses to improve their academic achievement. Researchers on SRL share the belief that students' own perceptions as learners and the way they make use of different processes to regulate their learning are the key factors in better analyzing and understanding their academic achievement (Zimmerman, 2002).

In order to achieve, students apply their available cognitive strategies to the assigned tasks and this occurs within a certain context. This is a continuous and constant process that demands training and experience. …

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