Giving students extra homework in mathematics tends to benefit the highest- and lowest-achieving students more than it does more-average performers, a study has concluded.
Homework is an important factor in students’ test scores, compared with other potential influences, such as time spent in class, the study found. But it also concluded that those gains were strongest among students near the top and bottom of the performance scale, as opposed to those in the middle.
The study, which was published in the July issue of the Econometrics Journal, was written by a pair of economics researchers, Ozkan Eren of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Daniel J. Henderson of the State University of New York at Binghamton. They based their research on federal data collected from the National Educational Longitudinal Study beginning in 1988 and continuing for years afterward. The authors primarily evaluated 10th graders’ performance in math, and used 8th grade scores as a control, Mr. Henderson said.
The study does not suggest that homework is not important to middling achievers, but rather that they may benefit more from other activities, rather than simply extra out-of-school academic work, Mr. Henderson said.
“Teachers should consider quality over quantity when it comes to homework assignments,” he said in a statement released by his university. “In the end, it should be up to the individual teacher to decide how to motivate and educate [his or her] students.”
A version of this article appeared in the September 03, 2008 edition of Education Week