The Homework Conundrum – What the research says

For years, the “Yes, Homework”/”No, Homework” debate has existed. Homework has been questioned in terms of the time spent to complete assignments; the age at which homework should start; the amount of adult support required; the purpose of assignments; etc. For every opinion, there can be an opposing opinion. For every child, there can be a different response.

Numerous educational researchers and policy makers have conducted studies about the impact homework on learning. This fall, we, the homework committee, have spent time immersing ourselves in what others have said about the history, the nature, and the purpose of homework. Through the research of others, we have found that there is no ONE right answer about whether homework is right or wrong; too much or too little. The variables are vast. Other school districts across the country are and have been eager to understand the purpose and extent to which homework is defined, as well. We are not alone in this quest. Lexington has recently implemented a new policy and a set of guidelines (linked here). Our committee has also looked to school districts in California, Colorado, Utah, Connecticut, and others. Again, we have found there is not one best policy or set of guidelines.

What follows are a few of our findings:

  • Research suggests that the question is not “Homework v. No Homework.” Rather, a question might be “What is the purpose of the homework?” (There can be many different purposes: practice, pre-learning, extending learning.) Another question is about the way the homework is perceived. (Is it clear? Authentic? Connected?)
  • Research from other districts and think-tanks such as Challenge Success (see link below) suggest a “ten-minute rule” about the time a student might take on homework. The idea here is that students in third grade would have 30 minutes (10 minutes per grade level) and students in 6th grade would have 60 minutes. This would suggest that high school students would have about 2 hours of homework each night. Note: This “rule” was suggested in the 1990s by the National PTA and the National Education Association (Pope, Brown, & Miles, 2015)
  • Different students use their homework time differently. Some secondary students suggest that they spend a certain amount of time on homework, but they also share that they are simultaneously using social media. This is part of what we want to learn more about, as multitasking may add to our understanding of how long some students are spending on assignments.

From the Student Life Survey, it appears that high school students who do about 16-18 hours of homework each week are able to get more sleep and are generally less stressed.

Here are links to some research regarding homework:

Challenge Success White Paper:

Cooper, H., et al. (meta analysis):

Marzano, R., et al.:

NEA (National Education Association):

Pope, Brown, and Miles (2015), Overloaded and Underprepared. (Brief synopsis here:

The next post will be about what the students have found in their own data gathered over the past six years in the Student Life Survey (linked here).