About an hour a day is ideal, and doing homework alone and regularly yielded the best results, Spanish researchers report.
“The conclusion is that when it comes to homework, how is more important than how much,” wrote study co-author Javier Suarez-Alvarez, from the University of Oviedo. “Once individual effort and autonomous working is considered, the time spent becomes irrelevant.”
The team looked at more than 7,700 male and female students, average age 14, in Spain. The teens were asked about their homework habits, and their performance in math and science was assessed using a standardized test.
The students spent an average of one to two hours a day doing homework in all subjects. Those whose teachers regularly assigned homework scored nearly 50 points higher on the standardized test, and those who did their math homework on their own scored 54 points higher than those who frequently or always had help. The findings were similar for science homework.
On average, teachers assigned just over 70 minutes of homework per day. Students showed small gains in math and science when they did between 70 and 90 minutes of homework, but their test results began to decline when they had more than 90 minutes of homework.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Educational Psychology.
While doing 70 to 90 minutes of homework yielded a slight improvement, “that small gain requires two hours more homework per week, which is a large time investment for such small gains,” Suarez-Alvarez said in a journal news release.
“For that reason, assigning more than 70 minutes of homework per day does not seem very efficient,” he added.
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