Research Against Homework

There is no meaningful sense in which it could be stated that “the research says X about homework” in a simple soundbite.

Thirdly, doing homework will prepare students for the big end tests.

Even though Tim is talking about his 6 year old, and cites research that refers to ‘younger kids’, too often the sweeping generalisation is applied to all homework for all students. I have written about my views on homework under the heading ‘Homework Matters: Great Teachers set Great Homework’ . He is ambitious and won’t accept comparison with 0.0 as a sign of a good strategy. Homework, taken as an aggregated whole, shows an effect size of d= 0.29 that is between small and medium? Hattie goes on to report that other factors make a difference to the results: eg when what is measured is very precise (eg improving addition or phonics), a bigger effect is seen compared to when the outcome is more ephemeral. Hattie suggests that the reason for the difference between the d=0.15 at primary level at d=0.64 at secondary is that younger students can’t under take unsupported study as well, they can’t filter out irrelevant information or avoid environmental distractions – and if they struggle, the overall effect can be negative.

I’ve said that all my instincts as a teacher (and a parent) tell me that homework is a vital element in the learning process; reinforcing the interaction between teacher and student; between home and school and paving the way to students being independent autonomous learners. He cites Cohen as suggesting with reason that 0.2 is small, 0.4 is medium and 0.6 is large and later argues himself that we need a hinge-point where d 0.6 to be considered excellent. So, we need to be clear: what is measured has an impact on the scale of the effect. That matches my predisposed bias so I should be happy. At secondary level he suggests there is no evidence that prescribing homework develops time management skills and that the highest effects in secondary are associated with rote learning, practice or rehearsal of subject matter; more task-orientated homework has higher effects that deep learning and problem solving.

The key is to think about the micro- level issues, not to lose all of that in a ridiculous averaging process.

Even at primary level, students are not all the same.

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  1. In this essay, first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and vital to any appreciation of the great man's work, Thoreau explores:• the joys and necessities of long afternoon walks;• how spending time in untrammeled fields and woods soothes the spirit;• how Nature guides us on our walks;• the lure of the wild for writers and artists;• why "all good things are wild and free," and more.