Does Homework Improve 1DOES HOMEWORK IMPROVE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT? Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003 Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Civey Robinson, and Erika A. Patall Review of Educational Research Spring 2006, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 1-62 Touro University EDU 710 College of Education March 2010
Does Homework Improve 2 AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to synthesize and analyze information gathered from a large varietyof studies over a long time period and update and reassess that information. Over 69 priorresearch studies were analyzed. Homework was defined as any task assigned by schoolteachersintended for students to carry out during non-school hours. Researchers conducted their analysistwice; once employing fixed error assumptions and once using random error assumptions.Recognition was made that the homework impact varies from student to student depending onhow much each student is assigned or completes and the amount of homework reported varieddepending on how the question is asked. Finally, researchers aligned similar studies andexcluded those done without proper methodology.
Does Homework Improve 3 Analysis of “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003” The question guiding the research is “Does Homework Improve AcademicAchievement?” 69 research studies carried out between the years 1987 and 2003 werereanalyzed and compared using four research designs. Since advocates for or against homeworkhave been able to cite single studies to support or refute their positions, the intent of theresearchers was to collect as much evidence as possible on the effects of homework usingresearch conducted since 1987. Researchers were looking to define the best policies andpractices that will (a) help students to obtain the optimum education benefit from homework, and(b) help parents to find ways to integrate homework into a healthy and well-rounded family life.The purpose of conducting this new analysis of the past studies was to update the evidence aboutthe effects of homework, to determine if questions left unanswered in the past can now beanswered, and to apply new methods of analyzing the data.Methods Researchers collected data from a Eric, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, andDissertation Abstracts electronic databases. They also searched the Science Citation IndexExpanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index databases from 1987-2004.In addition, Deans of 77 colleges, school, or departments of education at research-intensiveinstitutions were asked to share any similar studies. They also contacted 21 researchers who hadbeen major authors on similar studies. Lastly, they sent letters to research directors of over a
Does Homework Improve 4hundred school districts. An overwhelming 4,400 studies were identified. Two researchers thenexamined the title, abstract or document. Included studies had to have estimated the relationship between a measure of homeworkactivity on the part of students and a measure of achievement. Studies had to assess students inkindergarten through 12th grade. Studies on preschool children or postsecondary students wereexcluded. Also, only studies conducted in the United States were included. In the first design, exogenous manipulation of homework, researchers recorded thenumber of students and classroom included in the homework and no-homework conditions at thebeginning and end of the experiment; the grade level of the students; the subject matter; thenumber of assignments per week and their durations; the measure of achievement; and themagnitude of the relationship between homework and achievement. The next design analyzed studies that took naturalistic, cross-sectional measure of theamount of time the students spent on homework without any intervention on the part of theresearchers and related these to an achievement-related measure. They looked at the samevariables as in the exogenous manipulation studies. The third type of design was a simpler comparison of time spent on homework and themeasure of achievement. They again recorded the same variables. These studies did includeinformation on the students’ sex, socioeconomic status, and if any academic labels (gifted,average, “at risk”, under-achieveing/below grade level, possessing a learning disability, over-achieveing/above grade level) were applied to the students. Since three different measure of association were used, they employed a beta-weightcorrelation coefficient which they developed. Data integration was achieved by (a) calculatingaverage effect size, (b) a shifting unit of analysis approach, (c) using homogeneity analyses, (d)
Does Homework Improve 5conducting the analysis twice, employing fixed-error assumptions once and random-errorassumptions once.Results No matter what type of study was conducted the results indicated a positive relationshipbetween homework and achievement. Although each of the set of studies contained flaws, thestudies tended not to share the same flaws. There was a wide variety of students providing data.In addition, the studies were conducted in multiple subject areas. 60 correlations between homework and achievement were reported in 32 documents. 50correlations were in a positive direction and 19 in a negative direction. Caution was suggested that this was just an association between the variables and not acausal connection. Noted was the fact that there was strong evidence that homework andachievement were positively related for secondary school students. A small negative relationshipwas found for elementary school students. Student reports about the relationship of homeworkand achievement were significant but parent reports produced a near-zero correlation. Since thisanalysis came from only parents of elementary school students this analysis was excluded. Whilethere were a few exceptions, the overwhelming conclusion was that homework causes improvedacademic achievement.Discussion This research was incredibly thorough and accounted for almost every variable aresearcher could think of. Researchers were careful to point out that they were only looking atthe effect of homework on achievement, not the effect of achievement on homework. Remainingquestions include: (a) the socioeconomic differences between reporting schools (b) what type ofhomework was analyzed? (c) were completion rates and achievement rates higher for project
Does Homework Improve 6based homework versus traditional worksheets? (d) was length of school day a factor incompletion versus achievement rates? (e) how were homework conditions analyzed?