Jonathan was dutifully doing his homework assignments while listening to music from the radio at the same time. It is reasonable to expect that his mother would reward his efforts with a smile and encouraging words. It was, therefore, surprising to hear her say, “Really, Jonathan, how can you expect to do your work properly with the radio playing that kind of music?” This incident with minor variations is repeated regularly in many homes all over the world. This incident occurs because parents assume that there are certain conditions that provide the best environment for doing homework, and background music is not among them. Jonathan’s mother would be surprised to learn that there are a wide variety of individual differences in the environment in which children prefer to do homework. Some learners do their homework well with music in the background. Music actually helps them concentrate.
The goal of this book is to help Jonathan, his mother, and many other families understand the psychology of the homework process and to cope more successfully with required homework assignments; and to encourage professional educators and researchers to apply and evaluate the applications of a new model of Homework Motivation and Preference. Both the popular and the research literature have focused on homework as viewed from the outside, that is, on the nature of the homework itself. We focus on homework as viewed from the inside, by the student doing the assignments. Many educational benefits will accrue from understanding the wide range of individual differences among learners in the way they prefer to do their homework and from encouraging chil-