By Karen Leifer
Think about the worst part of your day. Is it waking up at the crack of dawn to get ready for school, heading into your least favorite class, or even doing the dishes? For me, and many other students, it’s homework. All high schoolers can relate to the struggle of studying for tests, writing essays, taking notes, and reading textbooks. In an effort to understand the misery, I decided to survey students and staff members about homework.
According to a January 2020 Council Rock North survey, there are large discrepancies between teachers’ and students’ perspectives when it comes to homework. On average, the educators surveyed believed that students should be spending about twenty-five minutes per subject per weeknight on homework. When all subjects are taken into consideration, these teachers believe that students should be spending between 1.5 to 2 hours on homework a night.
But student report spending almost double the amount of time that teachers suggest. The students surveyed are from a variety of different grades and courses. These students report spending an average of three hours on homework a night. During the weekends, students are spending a little over four hours on homework. With an extra four hours students could volunteer in the community, have social interactions, or waste time on their phones.
Clearly, students’ reports largely vary from the teachers’ expectations of about one and a half hours of homework per weekend, or twenty minutes per subject. The biggest surprise is that half of the surveyed educators reported not assigning homework over weekends or breaks. It is quite strange that some teachers aren’t assigning homework over weekends, yet students report having more than during the week. Perhaps a wider spectrum of surveys may have indicated a closer gap between teacher expectations and student’s time spent on work.
Teachers themselves have to complete work whether it may be lesson planning, differentiating instruction, or grading. The surveyed teachers reported an average of one and a half to two hours of “homework” a day outside of their teaching responsibilities. Thus, teachers believe they are spending the same amount of time as students on work outside of school, but the survey indicates that some students are working almost twice as long as teachers.
The teachers surveyed mainly said their purpose in assigning homework was to have students practice concepts learned in class. Other purposes include learning new concepts and preparing for future classes. Although teachers’ purposes in assigning work seem to benefit students, many students do not view it this way.
Students often have a hard time focusing when completing work. Seventy percent of students surveyed reported that their biggest distraction while completing work was their phone. Other students reported being distracted by “literally anything” or the desire to sleep. Assigning homework seems to be a routine part of school for teachers, but a hassle for high schoolers.
In conclusion, homework may hurt many students. According to the American Psychological Association, homework can cause students to face “boredom and burnout toward academic material.” It also decreases time they could be spending with their family and friends. A study from Dr. Rubén Fernández-Alonso shows that “when kids reported having more than 90 to 100 minutes of homework per day, [test] scores declined.”
In order to alleviate stress and negativity in students, teachers may want to consider changing how and when they assign homework. Students are spending almost double the assumed time completing work. They also are easily distracted by technology, which may be from fatigue. If homework assignments are decreased, students may become less stressed. Council Rock North will be a happier place when teachers assign less homework, allowing students to pursue other interests.