CHECKING IT OUT: Studies on Homework and The Value of Parent Involvement in Education
THE ISSUE: A new study challenges the notion that students are bogged down in too much homework.
DISCUSSION: The research was led by Professor Kenneth A. Kiewra, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
He and his co-authors looked at existing research and surveyed hundreds of parents of middle school students at four schools in an unnamed Midwestern city with a population of nearly 200,000.
The study, published in the latest issue of the journal “Scholarlypartnershipsedu,” concluded:
--Fifty-four percent of seventh graders spent 1 to 1 1/2 hours on nightly homework.
--Twenty-five percent of parents “still contend that excessive homework practices infringe on family life.”
--Ninety-six percent of parents were involved to some degree with homework.
--One-quarter of parents sometimes helped with assignments that kids were supposed to do alone.
--There is poor communication about homework between schools and parents.
CONCLUSION: A polling expert told The Sheet that the study’s methodology should restrict the conclusions to--at most--middle school students in the region in which the surveys were taken. The study does not restrict its conclusions in that fashion.
The Answer Sheet also notes that the researchers questioned only parents about time their children spent on homework. Parents, however, do not always know how much time students spend directly on their homework--even if they think they do.
FOR THE RECORD: The study reviews previous research on homework and refers to the work of Harris Cooper, professor of education and psychology at Duke University, who is probably the best known researcher on the subject.
Cooper has concluded that:
--Up until fifth grade, homework should be very limited.
--Middle school students should not spend more than 90 minutes on homework
--Two hours should be the limit in high school.
Beyond those time limits, he has said, research shows that homework has no impact on student performance.
THE ISSUE: A California reader asked The Answer Sheet to check out an education study that concludes that parental involvement in a child’s education is equal to spending more than $1,000 more on that student.
DISCUSSION: The study, “Parental Effort, School Resources, and Student Achievement," was conducted at the University of New Hampshire and published last year in the Journal of Human Resources.
It reached some rather obvious conclusions--including that students do a lot better in school when their parents are involved in their education.
But they also found that parents spend more time talking to their daughters than their sons about school work at dinnertime--and that schools would have to increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 to achieve the same results gained by parental involvement.
The researchers used national data from more than 10,000 eighth-grade students in public and private schools, their parents, teachers, and school administrators.
The Answer Sheet reader, Larry Ferlazzo of Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, wondered if something like parental involvement could be quantified in dollar terms.
CONCLUSION: The Washington Post’s expert pollster, Jon Cohen, looked at the research and gave it a nod.
He said the methodology is sound and that it is legitimate to estimate in dollar terms the value of parental help in the context of per-pupil school spending.
Please email The Answer Sheet if you have anything education-related you want checked out.
| September 15, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Homework, Parents | Tags: education research, harris cooper, homework, parental involvement
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