Middle School Homework: Study Shows ‘Huge Quantities’ Are Not Needed

Homework. How much is too much?

That question has been debated back and forth by educators, students, and parents alike.

Throughout grade school, it may seem as if the average student is overloaded with homework assignments from each of their teachers — causing them to spend several hours each night just to get through it all.

However, a study conducted by a research team from the University of Oviedo in Spain could completely change the common perspective of homework overall.

The performance of more than 7,700 students from private, state-subsidized, and public schools throughout northern Spain was studied closely by the research team. The average age of the students was between 13 and 14.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the students were provided with questionnaires covering several points — including how much time was spent on different subjects and the frequency of homework assignments in general.

“The researchers found that the students spent on average between one and two hours a day doing homework in all subjects.”

A more interesting discovery made during the study was the primary benefit of homework tasks that were systematically assigned by teachers. The report states that, on the standardized test, the students that received systematically assigned homework scored almost 50 points higher than the students that did not.

Another interesting statistic was that the students who completed their math homework on their own were able to score 54 points higher than the students who frequently asked for assistance. The same trend was noticed in science, as well.

Graduate student Javier Suarez-Alvarez opened up about the conclusions drawn from the research study — including the belief that the quantity of homework assigned is not as important as its quality and frequency.

“It is not necessary to assign huge quantities of homework, but it is important that assignment is systematic and regular, with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-regulated learning.”

Based on the study, Suarez-Alvarez was also able to identify an ideal period of time that should be spent on homework.

“The data suggest that spending 60 minutes a day doing homework is a reasonable and effective time.”

Sticking to a regular 60-minute daily dose of homework would be a lot lower than the average dose of over 70 minutes that the researchers discovered through the study.

Some teachers even went as far as assigning nearly 100 minutes of homework each day. However, the studies showed that the quality of the results decreased when the time involved increased.

In his own words, Suarez-Alvarez claims that the study shows that “how is more important than how much” when it comes to homework.

In order to make sure that the time spent completing assignments becomes irrelevant, emphasis must be placed on considering “individual effort and autonomous working.”

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