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Samuel Martinez
Samuel Martinez

The Relationship Between Homework and Achievement—Still Much of a Mystery - SAGE Journals



Introduction




Homework is a common and controversial topic in education. It refers to any tasks assigned by teachers to students outside of school hours. Homework can have various purposes and effects, such as enhancing learning, developing skills, fostering responsibility, increasing motivation, promoting self-regulation, and improving communication between parents and teachers. However, homework can also cause stress, frustration, boredom, fatigue, anxiety, conflict, cheating, and inequality among students. Therefore, it is important to understand how homework works and what factors influence its outcomes.




cooper h. (1989). homework



One of the most comprehensive and influential books on this topic is Homework by Harris Cooper (1989). In this book, Cooper presents a systematic review of research concerning the effectiveness of homework. He collects and analyzes all studies conducted in the past 50 years that examined the effects of homework or that compared variations in homework assignments, processes, and contexts. He also applies state-of-the-art techniques for gathering and integrating the research results. His goal is to provide a clear and objective picture of what is known and not known about homework.


In this article, we will summarize and evaluate Cooper's book. We will first explain how he defines and refines the notion of homework. Then we will describe his methodology for conducting the literature review. Next we will present his findings on the effects of homework per se and on the effects of variations in assignments. Finally we will discuss his implications for practice and future research.


Defining and refining the notion of homework




What is homework?




Cooper (1989) defines homework as "tasks assigned to students by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during nonschool hours" (p. 7). He distinguishes homework from other types of out-of-school activities, such as leisure reading, hobbies, sports, or chores. He also notes that homework can vary in many aspects, such as the amount, frequency, duration, difficulty, purpose, content, format, feedback, and evaluation. These aspects can affect how students perceive and perform homework.


Cooper (1989) also outlines the possible effects of homework, both positive and negative. On the positive side, homework can enhance student achievement, retention, understanding, and transfer of learning. It can also develop study skills, work habits, time management, self-discipline, and self-confidence. It can also foster interest, curiosity, creativity, and intrinsic motivation. Moreover, it can improve communication and cooperation between parents and teachers, as well as among peers. On the negative side, homework can cause physical and mental health problems, such as headaches, sleep deprivation, depression, and anxiety. It can also reduce leisure time, social activities, family interactions, and personal interests. Furthermore, it can increase stress, pressure, competition, conflict, and cheating. It can also create disparities and inequalities among students based on their abilities, resources, and backgrounds.


A temporal model of the homework process




Cooper (1989) proposes a temporal model of the homework process that identifies four stages: assignment, completion, submission, and evaluation. Each stage involves different variables that can influence homework outcomes. These variables include classroom factors (such as teacher characteristics, instructional methods, and classroom climate), home factors (such as parental involvement, home environment, and family background), student factors (such as ability level, prior knowledge, motivation, and attitude), and subject matter factors (such as difficulty level, relevance, and interest). Cooper (1989) suggests that these variables interact with each other and with the characteristics of homework assignments to produce different effects on student achievement and attitude.


Previous reviews of the homework literature




Cooper (1989) reviews the conclusions of past attempts to synthesize the homework literature. He finds that most of these reviews were either descriptive or narrative in nature. They did not use rigorous or consistent criteria for selecting or evaluating studies. They also did not use statistical methods to integrate or compare results across studies. Therefore, they often reached conflicting or inconclusive findings. Cooper (1989) argues that his review is different from previous ones because he uses a comprehensive and systematic approach to collect and analyze the relevant research. He also uses meta-analysis and other techniques to synthesize and summarize the results of studies.


Methodology of the literature review




Literature-searching strategy




Cooper (1989) describes his literature-searching strategy as follows: He searched various databases and bibliographies for studies published between 1930 and 1987 that examined the effects of homework or that compared variations in homework assignments, processes, or contexts. He also contacted experts in the field and asked them to recommend additional studies. He screened the studies based on their relevance to his research questions and their availability in English. He excluded studies that focused on special populations (such as gifted or disabled students), special subjects (such as music or art), or special types of homework (such as computer-based or cooperative learning). He also excluded studies that did not report sufficient information for coding or analysis. He ended up with 120 studies that met his inclusion criteria.


Methodological distinctions among studies




Cooper (1989) categorizes and evaluates the studies based on their design, quality, and validity. He distinguishes between experimental studies (which involve random assignment of students to treatment groups) and correlational studies (which involve measuring the association between variables). He also distinguishes between primary studies (which report original data) and secondary studies (which reanalyze existing data). He assesses the quality of studies based on their sample size, representativeness, generalizability, reliability, and validity. He also assesses the validity of studies based on their internal validity (whether they control for confounding factors), external validity (whether they apply to different settings or populations), and construct validity (whether they measure what they intend to measure).


Statistical procedures and conventions




Cooper (1989) uses meta-analysis and other techniques to integrate and summarize the results of studies. Meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the effect sizes of different studies to estimate the overall effect of a variable or intervention. Effect size is a standardized measure of the magnitude or direction of an effect. Cooper (1989) uses different types of effect sizes depending on the design and outcome of the studies. For example, he uses mean difference effect sizes for experimental studies that compare groups on continuous outcomes, ```html sizes for experimental studies that compare groups on dichotomous outcomes, correlation effect sizes for correlational studies that measure the relation between variables, and regression effect sizes for secondary studies that use regression models to estimate effects. He also uses various techniques to adjust for sampling error, publication bias, and moderator variables. He reports the results of his meta-analysis using tables, graphs, and narrative summaries.


Effects of homework per se




Homework versus no homework or supervised study




Cooper (1989) reviews 20 studies that compared the academic outcomes of students who did homework with those who did not or who did supervised study. He finds that homework has a positive and significant effect on student achievement, especially in high school. He also finds that homework has a positive and significant effect on student attitude toward school and academic subjects, especially in elementary school. He concludes that homework is beneficial for students in terms of both learning and motivation.


Time spent on homework




Cooper (1989) reviews 50 studies that examined the relation between academic achievement and the amount of time a student spends on homework. He finds that the relation is positive but weak and varies depending on the grade level, subject matter, and measure of achievement. He also finds that the relation is nonlinear and has a point of diminishing returns. He concludes that there is no optimal amount of homework for all students and that the optimal amount depends on individual factors and circumstances.


Effects of variations in assignments




Content and individualization of homework




Cooper (1989) reviews 18 studies that analyzed how the impact of homework varies depending on the type, difficulty, and relevance of the assignments. He finds that homework assignments that are more challenging, meaningful, and tailored to student needs and interests have more positive effects on student achievement and attitude than homework assignments that are more routine, boring, or irrelevant. He also finds that homework assignments that involve higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, have more positive effects than homework assignments that involve lower-order thinking skills, such as recall, comprehension, and application. He concludes that homework assignments should be designed to match the goals, abilities, and preferences of students.


Home and community factors and classroom follow-up




Cooper (1989) reviews 32 studies that explored how the home environment, parental involvement, teacher feedback, and peer interaction affect homework outcomes. He finds that the home environment has a moderate influence on homework outcomes, especially in terms of providing a quiet, comfortable, and well-equipped space for doing homework. He also finds that parental involvement has a mixed influence on homework outcomes, depending on the type, level, and quality of involvement. He suggests that parents should provide guidance, support, and encouragement for their children's homework, but not control, pressure, or interference. He further finds that teacher feedback has a positive influence on homework outcomes, especially when it is timely, specific, and constructive. He recommends that teachers should monitor, evaluate, and reinforce their students' homework performance and progress. Lastly, he finds that peer interaction has a positive influence on homework outcomes, especially when it involves collaboration, cooperation, and communication among students. He advises that teachers should facilitate and regulate peer interaction during or after homework.


Implications for practice and future research




Summary of findings




Cooper (1989) provides a comprehensive and non-technical overview of the main conclusions of his review. He summarizes his findings as follows: Homework has a positive effect on student achievement and attitude in general, but this effect varies depending on many factors. Homework is more effective for older students than for younger students; for math and science subjects than for language arts and social studies subjects; and for standardized tests than for teacher-made tests. Homework is also more effective when it is challenging, meaningful, and individualized; when it involves higher-order thinking skills; when it is supported by a conducive home environment; when it is guided by parental involvement; when it is monitored by teacher feedback; and when it is enhanced by peer interaction.


Policy recommendations




Cooper (1989) suggests some practical guidelines for school administrators and teachers to develop effective homework policies based on his review. He recommends that schools should have a clear and consistent homework policy that specifies the purpose, amount, frequency, duration, and evaluation of homework. He also recommends that teachers should assign homework that is appropriate, relevant, and engaging for their students. He also advises that teachers should coordinate their homework assignments with other teachers to avoid overloading or conflicting their students. He also urges that teachers should communicate with parents and students about their expectations and responsibilities regarding homework. He also proposes that teachers should provide feedback and recognition for their students' homework efforts and achievements.


Suggestions for future research




Cooper (1989) identifies some gaps and limitations in the existing homework literature and proposes some directions for further investigation. He points out that most of the homework studies are correlational rather than experimental, which limits the causal inference and generalization of the results. He also notes that most of the homework studies are conducted in the United States rather than in other countries, which limits the cross-cultural comparison and applicability of the results. He also observes that most of the homework studies focus on cognitive outcomes rather than on affective or behavioral outcomes, which limits the holistic understanding and evaluation of the effects of homework. He also remarks that most of the homework studies use quantitative methods rather than qualitative methods, which limits the depth and richness of the data and analysis. He suggests that future homework researchers should use more rigorous and diverse designs, samples, measures, and methods to address these limitations and to explore new questions and perspectives.


Conclusion




In conclusion, Cooper's book Homework (1989) is a valuable and influential contribution to the homework literature. It presents a comprehensive and systematic review of research concerning the effectiveness of homework. It uses state-of-the-art techniques to collect and analyze the relevant studies. It provides clear and objective findings on the effects of homework per se and on the effects of variations in assignments. It also offers practical and useful implications for practice and future research. Cooper's book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in or involved in homework.


FAQs




What is the main goal of Cooper's book Homework (1989)?


  • The main goal of Cooper's book is to provide a comprehensive and objective review of research concerning the effectiveness of homework.



What are the main benefits of homework according to Cooper (1989)?


  • The main benefits of homework are that it can enhance student achievement, retention, understanding, and transfer of learning. It can also develop study skills, work habits, time management, self-discipline, and self-confidence. It can also foster interest, curiosity, creativity, and intrinsic motivation. Moreover, it can improve communication and cooperation between parents and teachers, as well as among peers.



What are the main drawbacks of homework according to Cooper (1989)?


  • The main drawbacks of homework are that it can cause physical and mental health problems, such as headaches, sleep deprivation, depression, and anxiety. It can also reduce leisure time, social activities, family interactions, and personal interests. Furthermore, it can increase stress, pressure, competition, conflict, and cheating. It can also create disparities and inequalities among students based on their abilities, resources, and backgrounds.



What are some factors that influence the effects of homework according to Cooper (1989)?


  • Some factors that influence the effects of homework are the grade level, subject matter, measure of achievement, type, difficulty, relevance, feedback, evaluation, home environment, parental involvement, teacher feedback, and peer interaction.



What are some guidelines for developing effective homework policies according to Cooper (1989)?


  • Some guidelines for developing effective homework policies are to have a clear and consistent homework policy that specifies the purpose, amount, frequency, duration, and evaluation of homework; to assign homework that is appropriate, relevant, and engaging for students; to coordinate homework assignments with other teachers to avoid overloading or conflicting students; to communicate with parents and students about their expectations and responsibilities regarding homework; and to provide feedback and recognition for students' homework efforts and achievements.



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