Research And Reports
The assumption of many educators that more homework leads to higher achievement levels may be incorrect, according to an analysis of research on homework in the premiere issue of The Harvard Education Letter, a newsletter summarizing research on national education issues.
Since the research on homework suggests "that the effect of homework is far from uniform," the editors recommend that teachers, principals, and parents work together to formulate more useful homework policies.
Data collected from 20,000 high-school seniors in the "High School and Beyond" study indicate that homework offers slower secondary students the opportunity to compensate for academic deficits, according to the article. Based on this finding, the editors suggest, if schools were to convince low-achieving students of the value of homework, they ''would take a step toward equalizing opportunity."
In addition, research shows that high-school students concentrate their efforts on homework they judge useful, suggesting new approaches may be desirable, the editors note. "Instead of asking how much homework is enough, we might ask what sorts of work will convince students that if they study they will master important material," they write. "Unless the rewards are clear and attractive, many teen-agers simply will not participate."
The first issue of the newsletter, published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in association with Harvard University Press, was mailed to subscribers this week. For more information on the $15-a-year publication, write to The Harvard Education Letter, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, Mass. 02138.