How Much Homework Is Too Much?

If you’re a parent, you probably have an opinion when it comes to your child’s homework. Do you feel that they have too much work to do or has the amount of work children bring home decreased over the course of time? How much homework is too much, and is there ever a way of answering this question that satisfies every parent and educator?

In 2013, the Council of Ministers of Education Canada started work on a report entitled, ‘Assessment Matters!’ The aim was to analyse and evaluate the importance of homework and to gain an insight into how much homework is sufficient to achieve results. The council used four different assessments to compile the results. These include:

  • The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP)
  • Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
  • Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
  • Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

The council used data obtained from these national and international assessments to learn about the impact of homework and evaluate trends linked to the amount and type of homework set for students. Their findings are outlined below:

Grade 4 reading

The results of PIRLS analysis indicate that setting Grade 4 students more than 15 minutes of reading homework per day has a negative impact on reading ability. Reading more doesn’t correlate with higher achievement, and the conclusion offered by Canadian teachers was “more does not necessarily mean better.” Data shows that children who read for up to 15 minutes per day as part of their homework have significantly higher reading scores than those who read for 60 minutes or more. The score fell from 562 for 15 minutes to 535 for 60 minutes.

Grade 8 maths

According to the PCAP test, students who do no maths homework have the poorest results. Graphs show that the average PCAP score is highest in those who do more than two hours of maths homework per week. The median score rises from 454 for no maths homework to 507 for 2 hours or more. It is worth noting that the difference between 1-2 hours and 2 hours or more is just a single point.

Maths at 15 years old

The results of PISA analysis support the findings for grade 8 maths. Results are lowest in students who do no maths homework and highest in those who do 2-3 hours of maths homework per day. The average score rises from 481 in students who do no maths homework to 548 in pupils who do 2-3 hours per day. Interestingly, the score falls to 538 in those who do more than 3 hours per day.

So, how much homework is too much?

The study conducted in Canada suggests that it is beneficial for students to do homework, but there’s a limit to how much can be achieved. It isn’t always the case, as the data shows, that doing more homework leads to better results. The perfect scenario seems to be finding a balance that suits the individual student and enables them to learn without feeling overwhelmed or overworked.

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