Homework comprises the activities that are assigned to students to complement in-class work that comprises activities like lectures by teachers, class discussions, and note writing. However, there are different types of homework activities though only three of the types are often used in the ordinary school curriculum. Practice assignments are the learning activities that are administered to emphasize freshly acquired skills and information. An example is where students who have learned about particular types of rocks are required to identify different rocks within their environment in their free time. This type of homework is very successful when administered under careful evaluation of the teacher based on the individual student’s learning ability and academic background. (Keith, 1982)
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Preparation assignments are the out-of-class activities administered to provide students with background information before they are exposed to the given field in classroom discussions. These activities include reading class textbooks; compilation of resources for class demonstration; library study; and information organization in preparation for classes. The effectiveness of preparation homework depends on the appropriately given guiding principle on how and why the task should be finished.
Extension assignments are the out-of-class tasks given to encourage the development of individualized inventive learning by stressing student planning and research. This type of homework is often applied to continuing, long-term tasks that require students to apply information previously covered. (Knorr, 1981)
The usefulness of homework is supported by previous research studies among them La Conte 1981; and Mc Dermott and others 1984 that argued that homework has a direct effect on the success of students’ academics despite few other variables that affect their academic achievement. Review on the views of students; parents and teachers on homework show that homework impacts positively on the academic achievements of students. Recent studies have shown that raised homework time brought about improved grades in students of all ability levels where the lower ability students were seen to achieve grades comparable to those of brighter students. Recent research has also associated one to two hours of ding homework a day to bring about the best levels of reading performance in students around the age of thirteen years. Similarly, increased homework time in older students showed increased reading performance and academic achievement. The study also revealed that students who spent more than two hours on homework and the personal study showed the best improvement and achievement academically. The study went further to provide information showing that the performance of schools that assigned homework regularly; registered higher student success than those of the same level of study and environment that did not administer. (LaConte, 1981)
However, even though increased homework improves the academic performance of students; the number of and length of assignments given should be increased as students advance from lower to higher grades in school. The number of assignments given as homework is also greatly dependent upon gender; student learning capability and type of school. Recent research studies have also shown that private elementary school students spent more than an hour extra doing homework on average as compared to those from public elementary schools. The same survey also showed that girls take more hours on homework as compared to boys; and black students to white ones. The higher rates of homework done by students in private schools as compared to those in public schools; was attributed to the college preparatory familiarization of various private schools and the dissimilar nature of public learning institutions. (Rutter & Others 1979)
However, there are various sensitive areas that should be considered when deciding on whether the amount of time spent on homework should be increased, despite the benefits expected from the increment. The issues that should be considered in addressing this issue include; the kind of homework that is most effective; the amount of homework that is suitable; what age level is helped the most by homework increment; who should be responsible for deciding the amount of homework allocated; and who should monitor the homework. However, the answer to these areas of question concerning homework is best answered only by individuals who have information to do with the academic history of the different students or levels of study; and one who is at a position to decide on these areas based on the understanding of every student as a unit; or the different academic needs of the different levels of study. This is the case because the different questions are likely to be answered differently at different learning institutions, and as a measure to accommodate the different levels of academic performance of different students and levels of study. (McDermott & Others, 1984)
As discussed earlier, it is evident that the administration of homework improves the academic achievement of students. However, it is also worth noting that the levels to which the performance of students is greatly dependent upon other factors that should be considered at the implementation level. (LaConte, 1981)
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However, as a measure to ensure that the implementation of increasing homework levels helps realize the improvement of grades; the following recommendations are important in ensuring that the assignments given are relevant to the lower levels of study; and that they address the needs of academically poor students. To start with; homework assignments to be given should concur with instructional goals as well as accommodating differences among students. Homework should be administered three to five times a week which should account for a maximum of sixty minutes a night; that should be spread out to individual reading; being read to for the lower grade students; and math practice. Policies and guidelines concerning the administration, recording, and returning of homework that include returning dates; should be communicated to students and parents. (Knorr, 1981)
Other recommendations concerning the administration of homework include that; homework should not be administered on designated religious holidays or on times when students are out of school for religious observances. That student may be allowed to take assignments they failed to, as a result of excusable nonattendance, and that teachers should not offer homework in advance due to nonattendance of any kind. Teachers should not ask for feedback regarding homework administration from students and parents but should communicate the progress and self-evaluation of students’ homework to each student. Homework will not be used as a factor in the compilation of academic grades, but for the learning, progress unless when communicated expressly.
On the part of parents; children should be provided with favorable learning conditions to allow them to make the best use of the homework, as well as setting family routines that provide time for doing homework which is linked to higher achievement.
Parents should ensure that they provide children with any materials they may require in doing their homework; be accessible to assist children by giving suggestions but not doing the homework for them; communicate with teachers about their children’s performance in doing homework, and monitor homework completion through the use of classroom procedures. (Keith, 1982)
The question of increasing the number of assignments assigned as homework is a good measure in seeking to improve the academic excellence of students. However, it should be done based on the consideration of the individual needs of various students and various study levels. The homework time assigned should vary between different ages where twenty to thirty is recommended for grade one students which increases to sixty minutes among grade five students.
Keith, T. (1982). “Time Spent on Homework and High School Grades: A Large-Sample Path Analysis.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, 74, 248-253.
Knorr, C. (1981). A synthesis of homework research and related literature. Paper Presented to the Lehigh Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, Bethlehem, PA, ED 199 933.
LaConte, R. (1981). Homework as a learning experience. What research says to the teacher. Washington, D.C: National Education Association.
McDermott, R. and others. (1984). “When School Goes Home: Some Problems in the Organization of Homework.” TEACHERS COLLEGE RECORD, 85, 391-409.
Rutter, M. and others. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.