Does excessive homework discourage learning? – Part 2
Posted on: August 9, 2019.

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Students voiced their frustration with their workload, saying things like, “There’s never a time to rest, there’s always something more we should be doing” or “I feel like I’m drowning”, and “My body crashes when I’ve done, maybe, half of my homework.”

Based on this student feedback, researchers speculate that the overload can actually limit a student’s capacity to learn.

“Our study suggests that students who are overloaded, experience higher levels of stress and more physical problems like sweating, headaches, exhaustion, stomach problems and or sleeping difficulties”, notes Galloway.

He adds, “In addition, these students report a general lack of balance in their lives, feeling like they need to choose completing their homework over engaging in social, physical and restorative activities that could support their well-being.”

Previous research has also shown that assigning too much work can diminish its effectiveness and even make it counter-productive. Clearly, it doesn’t mean that students are actually learning more because they are doing more work.

But what can teachers do to make sure that they assign enough work without frustrating or overloading their students?

Dr. Galloway notes that any work given to students should have a clear purpose and benefit and should be designed to cultivate learning and development. She also suggests the following tips for finding the right balance.

    ✔  Students and teachers should generally align in their understanding of the purpose of homework (that is, students should be able to identify the purpose)

    ✔  Teachers should not simply check off homework as ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’. Homework should be incorporated or utilized in the lesson to facilitate the learning experience.

    ✔ Students and teachers should be engaged together in co-constructing the homework assignments, with which students can identify various ways to build upon and expand their learning of a topic or concept. This also provides opportunities for students to bring forth their strengths and creativity, find cultural ways of learning, and link themselves with community assets to the learning process.

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