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School & District Management

The Myth of Too Much Homework?

By Sean Cavanagh — August 28, 2009 1 min read

A favorite, or maybe I mean never-ending, debate in education circles is whether students are overburdened with homework, blowing it off at will, or simply doing about the right amount.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln concludes that students are not saddled with an undue amount of homework—at least according to their parents. As described by Time magazine, the study found that mothers and fathers reported that their kids spend about as much time watching TV as they do on their out-of-school studies.

The research counters some past reports suggesting that the amount of homework has increased over time, or that it’s more than students can handle. As EdWeek’s ace reporter on research issues, Debbie Viadero, put it in a story last year: “A perennial parade of authors, newspaper stories, and parents have raised questions over whether the nation’s schoolchildren are doing too much homework, or doing it at too young an age, and whether too much of it is busywork.” Yet as that story noted, a poll showed that 85 percent of parents polled in a recent study believed their children are doing the right amount, or even too little homework.

Whether the latest study moves the homeworkometer one way or another remains to be seen. I’d be curious to see any research that compares different generations of parents’ attitudes toward homework. Do parents today have noticeably different beliefs about how much time children are spending on homework than they did in, say, the 1970s, or 1980s?

If anybody’s seen research of this sort, enlighten me.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.