Academic journal article School Community Journal

Middle School Students' Perceptions regarding the Motivation and Effectiveness of Homework

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Middle School Students' Perceptions regarding the Motivation and Effectiveness of Homework

Article excerpt


In this era of high stakes testing and intense teacher accountability, it is incumbent upon educators to identify and implement only the best practices for students' learning outcomes. For all grades, homework is a long-standing U.S. public school tradition. In acknowledging the widespread acceptance of assigning homework, the existing literature remains mixed with respect to describing the positive relationships between homework and student achievement, grades, and test scores (Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006; Trautwein & Koller, 2003). When considering homework, in spite of the most sincere efforts of parents to help children at home and the thoughtful planning of teachers to meet academic objectives, it is ultimately students' attitudes regarding their commitment toward homework that may make the critical difference toward ensuring positive learning outcomes. Homework assignments are likely to be most effective if students exercise the required effort in completing homework tasks and, in turn, identify with the positive benefits for their learning (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2016).

In an effort to contribute to the existing homework discussion, this current mixed method project describes middle school students' perceptions of the homework process. An ongoing discussion describing homework is important because existing data are lacking that focus on how students at all grade levels view or think regarding the benefit and purpose of assigning homework (Letterman, 2013; Shumow, Schmidt, & Kackar, 2008; Xu & Corno, 2003).

Literature Review

Findings describing the contributions of homework toward students' academic success are not definitive (Cooper et al., 2006). There is a range of contradictory results for both supporters and nonsupporters of homework. Acknowledging research design errors, the existing literature undermines positive claims for assigning homework (Bempechat, Li, Neier, Gillis, & Holloway, 2011).

Homework requires a time commitment for teachers, students, and parents, and time is considered as an important factor in the homework debate (Van Voorhis, 2011). The findings describing the time students spend on completing homework varies based on the particular research design, but studies indicate that time is influenced by age and subject (Cooper et al., 2006). Targeting the elementary and higher SES levels, some data indicate students may be spending too much time completing homework at the loss of afterschool activities (Kralovec & Buell, 2000; Van Voorhis, 2003). The time it takes to complete homework often creates a challenge for students who desire to socially interact in afterschool activities, participate in sports events, or play with peers in the neighborhood. In deciding the type and amount of homework, teachers may fail to consider how time affects family involvement (Van Voorhis, 2011).

In a 2008 study, Shumow, Schmidt, and Kackar explored several variables that influence adolescents' homework experience. Their findings indicated that adolescents viewed homework as less stressful and more enjoyable when they were doing homework with peers or parents as compared with completing homework alone. At the same time, when alone, adolescents reported greater cognitive engagement than when with friends or parents. Their study also showed that student effort to perform homework was positively associated with self-esteem, grades, and expectations.

Letterman (2013) conducted research to understand students' perceptions of homework and identified factors that influenced their ideas regarding homework assignments. Findings described how students felt that homework was important to them when the instructor provided positive feedback on their assignments. Furthermore, data indicated students had a positive perception of homework when assignments became a part of the course grade or when bonus points could accumulate and contribute toward the final grade. …

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