Learning out of schoolJimmy Karttunen, Robert Janícek and Saeko Yoshida
No matter what country you are in, it seems that homework is greeted with little enthusiasm by students and is not always welcomed by teachers or parents. Yet all seem to agree that it is a necessary adjunct to learning in school. The much bigger question is what students do when they are in their own time, how long they spend on homework and how productive it is and how it relates to work done in the classroom. Figure 19.6 shows data from the recent OECD PISA study (OECD, 2001) comparing hours of homework from different countries. This major international study is perhaps as surprising as the data here and is interesting to set alongside the Learning School inquiry.
What homework is
By homework we mean all school-related tasks that a student studies out of school, not only tasks distributed by a teacher. Homework is generally seen as important for the development of knowledge in any subject. We considered that there are three main kinds of study out of school, these being:
|• an assigned task from a teacher;|
|• supplementary study by a student for a deeper understanding of the subject;|
|• preparation and revision for tests/examinations.|
In each of the schools in Learning School 1 we asked some common questions but also took a different tack as we progressed and as our own understanding developed. So in the following figures not all the countries are included. Figure 19.1 compares four countries on time spent on homework. The pattern is quite similar but there are marked differences between Sweden at one extreme and Japan at the other.
The second question asks about how students feel about their homework (see Figure 19.2). The Czech Republic stands out here with the largest percentage of students feeling homework is too much. Only in Japan do students complain about too little homework (although Scotland does have one renegade student in this category).
The next question is 'When do you do your homework?' comparing three countries, with only South Africa having students who say they don't do it,