Restructuring homework to improve learning

Schools have started the long journey of eliminating homework assignments in their learning process; they cite a study that indicates that homework does not improve students learning outcomes. A 2nd-grade teacher in Texas announced she would not assign homework assignments to hers, students, to the delight of students and some parents.

In 2017, Florida school district superintendent, serving 42,000 students, moved to eliminate homework assignments for all essential children. Instead, it replaced with 20 minutes of evening bedtime reading, citing solid research on what works to enhance education results for students. Other primary schools have followed suit in eliminating homework assignments. However, other stakeholders have objected to the total ban of homework, saying homework has other benefits like enabling parents to know what children are doing in school and fostering good learning habits amongst students.

The arguments cited by educators in eliminating homework assignments seem not to make any sense. For instance, if you want to learn how to play the violin, it is natural that you need practice between violin lessons. Psychologists have proposed strategies that can assist students study, and a number of these strategies are ideal for homework. The first strategy is retrieval practice, which is the process of recalling information students have already learned in class. The best time to employ retrieval practice is to forget what you learned and probably after school. Ordinarily, homework tasks necessitate students to answer questions on what they covered in class during the day without notes. Studies have shown that retrieval practice and other learning strategies are powerful than reviewing and rereading materials.

The reason why homework assignments do not improve grades or tests score is that some teachers do not know the findings of this research, and they do not train on why and how to assign homework.

However, if teachers manage to allocate effective homework, often, it does not reflect on measures of attainments relied upon researches such as standard reading test scores.

A study that focused on math homework found that it improved attainment in primary school than in mid-school, which is the opposite of homework assignment in general. One research found that parental help on homework does not improve students’ academic outcomes and may have negative effects. Another research found out those financially disadvantaged students who can't afford themselves to pay to do homework, with the help of parents can boost their performance.

Children from less-educated families need the improvement that effective homework provides since they are not likely to acquire academic vocabulary and knowledge at home. Homework provides an opportunity for low-income parents who lack time to participate in parent association or volunteer in class to establish connections to children’s schools.

Another argument supporting the elimination of homework is that it makes students feel stressed and overburdened. This notion might be true to schools having students from affluent societies, but students from low-performing schools get less homework.

When less privileged students finally get their way to college, the lack of good homework and study habits will be a serious challenge. A professor from the University of North Carolina noticed that Hispanic and black students failed her course very much and decided to make notable changes like allocating homework that needed them to quiz themselves without referring to notes. After that, their performance improved remarkably.

A significant challenge with homework at the primary school level is the curriculum, partly since standardized testing has focussed on maths and reading, thus eliminating science and social studies.

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