Homework: Less is More or More is Less?
The controversy has existed for as long as we can remember: is more or less homework beneficial for students? In its last meeting, the Debate Club discussed the benefits and downfalls of having a substantial amount of homework. The School Library Journal showed that students with less homework had better test scores than students who had more homework. If students had less outside preparation, they succeeded more on tests and examinations. The policy listed as Best Practices in Education on the National Education Association's website suggests that students should receive an amount of homework that is 10 times their grade level (ex: grade 10, 100 minutes of homework per night). They do acknowledge that this can be much more in high school based on a student's course load and academic setting. This is seen to be the most effective way of increasing test scores and learning abilities.
To see if this was necessarily true at SUA, I interviewed 2 teachers and several students, who range from freshmen to seniors, about their stance on this topic. This topic also flows into exam week because students and teachers are overwhelmed with remaining material that needs to be covered before our final week.
In the English Department, Mr. Hittle ceases homework the day before a test; that is put aside for review. He also incorporates less homework into his class before exam week and takes the last week before exams to review all relevant literary eras. The hope is that students will familiarize themselves with this material again and can help each other review. Outside of class, Mr. Hittle assigns a prep sheet for his exam. During class, he gives review material that compares and contrasts units and assigns a review project for a specific literary era.
Mr. Busemeyer of the Math Department remains consistent with his homework load throughout the semester. Instead of giving a specific section’s problems each night before exams, Mr. Busemeyer gives either review problems or a review packet to ensure that students know material on the exam. He notes that in a math course, students have to receive a set amount of homework in order to review all sections and chapters that will be on their exam.
To see both sides of the thesis, I asked a variety of students about homework and beneficial experiences surrounding it.
Ranging from 2-6 hours on an average night, freshmen and seniors have different experiences with homework. Although grade levels may differ, most students agreed that review problems and making study guides are two of the most important ways to prepare for tests and exams. Consistent amounts of homework lead to higher chances of success for Therese Kondash ’17. She noted that receiving review packets allows her to put all learned information together and prepare better for her tests. For Katie Heskamp ’16, going over missed problems on past tests or homework in her math course enable her to comprehend material more clearly and feel more prepared for her tests.
In addition to out-of-class work, Erin Donovan ’15 said that being allowed to make a study guide for her Honors American Literature exam last year was a benefit for her. She was able to study while making the prep sheet and the review was handy during the exam. For Maddie Bell ’18 and Josie Blome ’18, homework has especially helped them when they reworked missed problems and made flashcards before exams last term. Regarding homework, Claire Berding ’15 suggests doing any optional or additional review packets or problems because she has seen her success rate boost when she does them.
As seen in both our teachers and students, giving/receiving consistent amounts of homework has led to great success. No matter a student’s preference, she can both agree that in the end, succeeding is her highest concern.