BINGHAMTON, NY - While U.S students continue to lag behind many countries academically, national statistics show that teachers have responded by assigning more homework. But according to a joint study by researchers at Binghamton University and the University of Nevada, when it comes to math, piling on the homework may not work for all students.
Published in the July issue of the Econometrics Journal, researchers found that although assigning more homework tends to have a larger and more significant impact on mathematics test scores for high and low achievers, it is less effective for average achievers.
"We found that if a teacher has a high achieving group of students, pushing them harder by giving them more homework could be beneficial," said Daniel Henderson, associate professor of economics at Binghamton University. "Similarly, if a teacher has a low ability class, assigning more homework may help since they may not have been pushed hard enough. But for the average achieving classes, who may have been given too much homework in an attempt to equate them with the high achieving classes, educators could be better served by using other methods to improve student achievement. Given these students' abilities and time constraints, learning by doing may be a more effective tool for improvement."
The Bush-Kennedy legislative monstrosity known as No Child Left Behind has created pressure on schools to assign more homework in hopes of raising standardized test scores. The continuing quest to turn America into Lake Woebegone (the mythical town where all children are above average) keeps running up against the genetically determined intellectual limits of the real world students.
"There has been an extensive amount of research examining the influences of students' achievement, but it has been primarily focused on financial inputs such as class size or teachers' credentials," said Eren. "Our study examined the affect that additional homework has on test scores." While past studies suggest that nearly all students benefit from being assigned more homework Henderson and Eren discovered that only about 40% of the students surveyed would significantly benefit from an additional hour of homework each night.
According to Henderson, the findings should be of particular interest to schools who have responded to the increased pressures to pass state-mandated tests by forcing students to hit the books even harder. "This does not mean that homework is unimportant for average achievers," says Henderson. "But it does mean that this population may also benefit from other activities such as sports, art or music, rather than additional hours of math homework."
The best way to raise test scores is to make students smarter. Women could eat more salmon while pregnant and then breast feed. Both these activities will probably boost IQ by providing growing brains with more omega 3 fatty acids. Beyond that women could try harder to hook up with smarter guys in order to give their offspring smarter genes. But legislated changes in school environments aren't going to help much if at all.
The best way to improve education is to break the link between schools and certification.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 August 18 10:26 PM Education|