High school students spend only about half the time expected by teachers on homework

by Grace

We know there is a disparity between the amount of homework teachers assign and the amount of homework students actually do.  Here are some numbers that illustrate that difference.

HOW MUCH HOMEWORK IN HIGH SCHOOL?

Harris Poll 2013 Assigned by teachers: 3.5 hours a day 
National Center for Educational Statistics 2007 Done by students: 1.4 hours a day

Admittedly, this data probably does not show fully accurate numbers.  For one thing, six years separate the times when the two different surveys were conducted.  Plus the information is self reported, so some error is likely for that reason.  Still, I’m willing to accept that it reflects what goes on in real life.

On average, students complete about half of the homework assigned by their teachers.

Or, more accurately:

On average, students spend about half the time expected by their teachers in doing their homework.

Why the difference?

Teachers cannot always accurately predict how long it will take their students to complete assigned homework.  And clearly there are slacker students who simply don’t do their school work.  Another element is the cynicism about the value of homework, sometimes prompting both parents and students to ignore some assignments.

This anonymous comment from a teacher captures some of the reasons for the cynicism felt by families.

Funny I was just thinking about this and other things we do in our school to satisfy parents who want their kids “busy” . I teach kindergarten and we give homework! We do it so the After School workers have something to do with the kids. Most of our kids don’t go straight home they go to daycare or After School so rather than have them do unrelated work we send work for them to do.

I don’t think homework is necessary and find that many teachers use it as an abdication of their own teaching. Many teachers, for example, will tell parents to practice reading sight words because their child is not learning to read in school. Right there parents are made responsible for teaching their child to read. Parents often made to feel guilty about their child not learning. This is just one example of how homework turns into school work.

I spiral the work so it’s always something the kids can do independently.

We have been told as teachers that homework is to teach self discipline but it’s really to show the parents that their kids are doing something in my school.

Some homework is just for show?

20140309.COCHomeworkNoTime1

Related: Asian-American students spend significantly more time on homework (Cost of College)

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3 Comments to “High school students spend only about half the time expected by teachers on homework”

  1. And when they get to college, which is designed with the expectation that most work will be done outside of class, with the same attitude. Honestly, I think the reason that classroom-flipping is taking off is that it is the only way to get the students to do the work, without cheating.

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  2. “it is the only way to get the students to do the work”

    I’ve seen that explicitly given as an reason.

    I suspect many parents and students have arrived at the same place as I have, with feelings of doubt and cynicism that K-12 is doing most things right. As the latest opposition to Common Core Standards has shown, it’s not just the folks suspicious of big government in general who distrust the wisdom of education bureaucrats.

    After so many years, that attitude is hard to undo once students reach college. And of course higher education has its own shortcomings that engender distrust.

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  3. That cynicism has as much to do with a traditional American anti-schooling sentiment as anything else. And it is deeply American. Asian parents are so different – even if they don’t like the educational methods, they still teach their children to respect the process. And to do the homework. I have seen enough of typical Chinese teaching methods to know that they are pretty bad – much worse than American methods – and that the difference in outcomes is totally due to the parents, who coach and cajole their kids to success.

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