How to Make Homework Boost Learning
The debate about whether or not homework is beneficial to students seems not to be ending soon. Proponents and oppositions of the practice have all expressed valid opinions. That aside, there have been several pieces of research to that effect, and none have been able to prove that homework improves kids' academic performance. Based on that, some schools have eliminated homework, while others are trying to restructure it. But should we throw the baby out with the bathwater?
A Texas second grade teacher in 2016 announced she has stopped assigning homework. According to her, no research has proved homework enhances performance.
A year later, the superintendent of a Florida school district canceled homework for elementary students and introduced twenty minutes of nightly reading. Following that, some elementary schools subtly implemented similar policies. The decision has since raised concerns from supporters of homework. According to them, even if homework does not improve academic performance, it has several other benefits. There is no doubt that home assignment has its challenges, but the benefit far exceeds the shortfalls if well managed.
But is it true that homework doesn’t improve academic performance? Some of the arguments made by experts against homework leave much to be desired. As it is being said, “practice makes perfect.” If you want to perfect a skill, you need to keep practicing it. So, a kid learning how to play a keyboard needs to practice at home after every lesson. What is the difference between this and a child having to do homework after school?
Why Homework can Boost Learning
We learn to retrieve for later use, being it in exams or for other purposes. This is why we have the retrieval practice, which is recalling something you’ve learned. The best time to have a retrieval practice is after you seem to be forgetting about the subject matter. It is proven that retrieval practice is a more powerful technique in recalling information than re-reading. In homework, sometimes students are required to answer questions without referring to their notes.
Some teachers are oblivious to this research; hence, they don’t know how to utilize homework to benefit students. Some of them also lack the requisite training and experience on how and which type of task to assign at a given period. Therefore, it is evident that most teachers assign homework without assessing its effectiveness and impact on the students.
Though homework may not help elementary children, the opposite can be said on its impact on middle and high school students. Several kinds of research attest to this fact; however, there may be slight differences in the student's demography, economic background, and even the subjects. For example, the research found that math homework boosts students' achievement at the elementary level than in middle school.
Another research revealed that privileged kids with educated parents easily get help doing their homework than disadvantaged kids with less-educated students. Nonetheless, if teachers cite this reason for not assigning homework, it means less privileged students would be left to their fate. However, these students need effective assignments to enhance their academic performance.