Homework in America

One homework fact that educators do agree upon is that the young child today is doing more homework than ever before.

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Homework load: too little or too much?

Since Roosevelt transitioned to remote learning, feelings about it have been mixed. While the online style is the safest option given the pandemic, and teachers and students alike are doing as well as they can with the new format, the consensus is that learning and teaching in 2020 has not been easy.

Classwork, tests, and classroom discussions have all changed drastically, but the thing that has arguably changed the most is the homework load. Most students believe that teachers now expect us to do a lot more homework than was required last year, or in any other normal year. With students attending in-person class, the teacher can easily monitor all students, their behaviour, and their progress.

Virtual school and the complications it creates, such as lack of structure and the limited ability of teachers to monitor student progress, means that most of the work is turned into individual assignments to do during asynchronous time. Many students find very few classes where activities like tests occur during the actually scheduled class session. Because of limited meeting time, many classes expect students to set their own goals, go at their own paces, and do everything according to them. For some students, this is a perfect learning style, but for others, it is really stressful.

One of the primary reasons that in-person school even exists is so teachers can schedule the student’s time and make sure that their students are doing the work on time and to an appropriate standard. With online school, teachers suddenly expect students to have mastered time management. For people who procrastinate or have a hard time managing their hours, this can be tricky.

I finish school and typically have anywhere from three to five hours of homework each day. This includes in-class assignments, tests and any homework that was assigned at the end of the period. It’s a lot of work, and there are a lot of expectations from my teachers on how well students should be doing, and when students should be turning everything in.

The National Education Association supports the standard of “10 minutes of homework per grade level.” As a junior, that means I should have 110 minutes of homework per day. According to the National Education Association, I am doing anywhere from one to two more hours worth of homework per day than is healthy for me. Now, this gets a bit tricky because asynchronous time is still considered class time. However, it is not structured at all and therefore teachers have no way of knowing if students are actually using this time for its intended purpose or not.

The effective conversion of all of this classwork and all these assignments and tests into homework can be incredibly damaging to students for a number of reasons. Various studies show that too much homework can lead to an exorbitant amount of stress which can have many other significant impacts, especially on a developing brain. According to research by Stanford, too much homework can lead to anxiety, physical health problems, and can even cause self-isolation and withdrawal from social life and relationships. Too much homework can be incredibly harmful to students, especially when there are ways that the homework can be shifted into more structured, less-stressful, classwork-based assignments.

For me, an increased amount of homework this year has brought me a great deal of stress. I have a lot more testing anxiety than I did previously because I have no real way of knowing what the tests will look like, how I should prepare for them, and when I should be taking them. I have very little structure which is something new for me, and I’ve always procrastinated, which means some days I don’t do any work and other days it seems I have endless hours of work to do.

As detailed by Stanford, too much homework can lead to a plethora of mental health problems. For me, this has been the case. However, there are a lot of ways that teachers can help relieve some of the stress of homework and even remove some of the homework and turn it into classwork.

For example, conducting all quizzes and tests in class can decrease the stress of independent time management. When students who tend to procrastinate or get testing anxiety have to take the test on their own time, they may wait or just put it off completely. If all tests were held in class, it would provide that much needed structure, and take the weight of making big decisions off their shoulders.

In addition, many classes already use the breakout room functions on their virtual learning platforms. This is a great way to engage students, allow them to build connections, and gain some structure. Doing work in a small group may encourage students to get their work done during class instead of putting it off until later and allowing it to build up into hours of work.

While a lot of teachers have been working hard to cut down on work and fit everything into just two hours of class time a week, the workload this year is still a lot. However, there are many ways that teachers can help structure the student’s time and better format the assignments so that they are easier to do, easier to comprehend, and easier to succeed on.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly difficult time for all of us. Students, teachers, and staff alike are all feeling the pressure of conducting school online. It’s new and therefore difficult to change to adapt to this new learning style, and it’s important to remember that online school is a learning process. With time, it will hopefully get better.

International comparisons

It found that 57 of parents felt that their child was assigned about the right amount of homework, 23 thought there was too little and 19 thought there was too much. Parents are correct in saying that they didn t get homework in the early grades and that their kids do, says Harris Cooper, professor of psychology and director of the education program at Duke University.

“In the 1930s, there were lots of graduate students in education schools around the country who were doing experiments that claimed to show that homework had no academic value – that kids who got homework didn’t learn any more than kids who didn’t,” Gill continues. Also, a lot of the opposition to homework, in the first half of the 20th century, was motivated by a notion that it was a leftover from a 19th-century model of schooling, which was based on recitation, memorization and drill. Progressive educators were trying to replace that with something more creative, something more interesting to kids.”



Homework in America


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