Study Finds Too Much Homework Bad for Students

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November 16, 2012

When it comes to kids and homework, more isn't necessarily better, according to a new study out of the University of Virginia. 'When Is Homework Worth the Time' looks at student achievements in comparison to time spent on homework. Researchers said the findings were surprising.

"The more time students spend on homework, it's not clear that they are getting better grades or better test scores," said Robert Tai, an associate professor with the Curry School of Education at UVa.

Tai and two co-authors looked at transcripts and data for more than 18,000 tenth grade students nationwide. Their findings show more homework assignments didn't translate into better grades.

"What we are concerned with is that homework is just being assigned rather than being used to integrate what's going on in the classroom," said Tai.

The study isn't suggesting all homework is bad, especially when it comes to math. "When it comes to math, what we found is that there is a bit of a sweet spot," Tai said. "Students that were spending about a half an hour on math homework were reporting that their grades and test scores were actually better."

Tai says the study is a wake up call for educators. "Teachers need to be much more clear about why they are assigning homework and what the homework is for," Tai said. "If teachers aren't really incorporating homework into their teaching, it's unclear there is any type of benefit at all and it actually may end up hurting students."

The study points to factors like class participation and attendance as better indicators of students performance.

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