In our new book Reforming Homework: Practices, Learning and Policy, we have reviewed and evaluated the research evidence on each of the three issues.
While this research is complex and there are many caveats, the following broad conclusions can be drawn. In terms of academic achievement, homework has no benefit for children in the early years of primary school, negligible benefits for children in the later years of primary school, weak benefits for junior high school students and reasonable benefits for senior high school students.
Sound research has demonstrated that spending more time on homework is associated with lower student achievement; this finding is complemented by research showing that in countries with high homework demands, student performance on international tests of achievement is poor.
Self-directed learning skills are associated with doing homework but the research indicates that the development of these skills occurs when parents are able to assist upper primary and junior secondary school students with their homework.
Parental involvement in their children’s homework activities can be both beneficial and detrimental. It can be detrimental when parents are over-controlling or interfering, but can be beneficial to student motivation when parents provide autonomy and a supporting learning environments for their children.
An Australian ban?
In our book we have argued that rather than abolition, homework needs to be reformed. Generally speaking, homework needs to be better planned by teachers and needs to be of a higher quality.
But it won’t be easy – homework needs to be challenging for students but not too challenging, it needs to be interesting and motivating, and students also need adequate feedback.
So the way forward is to start a conversation between teachers, parents and students about the sort of homework students need. The ro