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In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor.
So it’s quite possible that much of the homework teachers assign just isn’t particularly effective for many students.
Even if teachers do manage to assign effective homework, it may not show up on the measures of achievement used by researchers—for example, standardized reading test scores.
“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat.
“It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families.
The research cited by educators just doesn’t seem to make sense.
If a child wants to learn to play the violin, it’s obvious she needs to practice at home between lessons (at least, it’s obvious to an adult).The author of the essay “The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help” in the winter 2019 issue of , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.Research has found that retrieval practice and similar learning strategies are far more powerful than simply rereading or reviewing material.One possible explanation for the general lack of a boost from homework is that few teachers know about this research.Critics have objected that even if homework doesn’t increase grades or test scores, it has other benefits, like fostering good study habits and providing parents with a window into what kids are doing in school.Those arguments have merit, but why homework boost academic achievement?But for the most part, the studies haven’t looked at whether it matters what kind of homework is assigned or whether there are different effects for different demographic student groups.Focusing on those distinctions could be illuminating.And most have gotten little training in how and why to assign homework.These are things that schools of education and teacher-prep programs typically don’t teach.