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Surprising Science

Study: 60 Minutes of Homework is the Perfect Amount

How much homework should students do each night? One group of researcher says 70 minutes strikes the perfect balance.

Homework, like in all things in life, has a happy medium. The issue among scientists and educators is finding and agreeing on that middle ground. Melissa Dahl from NYMag reports that new research published in the Journal of Educational Psychology has found that any amount of homework that surpasses 70 minutes is too much.

Researchers from the University of Oviedo, Spain, had a group of 7,000 teenage students participate in their study. They asked students to answer a 24-question test that gaged their homework habits (provided they answered honestly). The researchers then had the teens participate in taking two 24-question math and science tests.

The results indicated that teens who reported doing about an hour of homework a night attained the highest scores. Those who reported spending anywhere from 90 to 100 minutes on homework each night didn’t do quite as well — more isn’t always better. But those who were not in the habit of doing homework at all fared worse than both groups.

The researchers write:

“The data suggest that spending 60 minutes per day doing homework is a reasonable and effective time. Furthermore, the results indicate that both the quantity of homework and the frequency of assignment are related to academic results.”

Educators shouldn’t do away with homework, nor should they seek to overwhelm students with hours of it. It “remains a vital tool for comprehensive education of adolescents.”

The researchers suggest that the content of the homework should not be repetitious, but a challenge to the principles they’ve been taught, though, not so much as to frustrate or discourage students from doing it. Homework should also be given with regularity in order to teach habits and self-learning techniques.

In his Big Think interview, education and development expert Andreas Schleicher talks about what steps parents and educators can do to ensure a quality education over time. He suggests implementing a kind of measurement framework is an important step in order to begin this process.

To read more about the study and disputes over homework, check out the article on NYMag.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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