It’s not news that students hate homework. But, new research finds they may actually have very good reasons.
In a study of 4,000 students at top high schools, kids reported that they were exhausted from too much homework, and that homework was the primary stressor for students in these high performing schools.
“More so than negotiating with parents, or peer issues, like girlfriend boyfriend,” said Jerusha Conner, an assistant professor of education at Villanova University and one of the authors of the study. “More so than college admissions anxiety, 72 percent said they were chronically stressed by school work, and then when we probed they said that homework was the number one cause of that stress.”
Students in the study reported doing at least three hours of homework a night, well over the time limit recommended by experts. Students also said that homework prevented them from getting enough sleep, spending time with their family, and pursuing other activities. The schools in the study were all located in California, and were either public schools that scored really well on state academic tests, or private ones with reputations for having rigorous academic programs. Conner added that the students questioned for the study were all serious about their education. “They weren’t asking for no homework, they were just asking for manageable amounts of useful homework.”
Conner says teachers should talk with their students about how much homework they assign, and ask them how much they are gaining from it. “There is a tendency to fall back on this idea that if the students spend a lot of time, then it’s a rigorous curriculum.”
Conner says only 6 percent of the students in the study said that their homework was very useful to their academic growth.