Research suggests that the impact of homework on learning is consistently positive and can lead to an average of five months’ additional progress. However, the impact homework can vary depending on how it is set.
Evidence also suggests that how homework relates to learning during normal school time is important. Research shows that in the most effective examples, homework is integral to the learning, not just an add on. To maximise impact of homework, it is important that students are provided with high quality and timely feedback on their work: “practice doesn’t do much unless there is rapid feedback, and that’s usually absent at home.” (Willingham, 2016)
Independent Learning (homework) is most effective when it involves practice or rehearsal of subject matter already taught. Students should typically not be exposed to new material to learn at home, unless they are deemed as ‘expert learners’. Complex or open-ended homework is often completed least effectively; short frequent homework which is monitored closely by teachers is likely to have a bigger impact. This could include using graphic organisers, guided research, summarising notes, exam question practise, guided revision etc (Huntington Research School, 2017).
Homework is more effective for secondary school students because they are more able to self-regulate their learning and have more of a knowledge base to draw upon. Similarly, high ability students typically benefit more from home learning more than low ability students (Huntington Research School, 2017).
A recent study examining the correlation between time spent on homework and academic achievement showed that homework completed by the student independently for 60-70 minutes a day had the biggest impact. More than 90 minutes of homework a night was a negative impact on student’s test scores (Institute for Effective Education, 2015).
Cathy Vatterott (2010) identified five fundamental characteristics of good homework: purpose, efficiency, ownership, competence, and aesthetic appeal.
1. Purpose: all homework assignments are meaningful & students must also understand the purpose of the assignment and why it is important in the context of their academic experience (Xu, 2011).
2. Efficiency: homework should not take an inordinate amount of time and should require some hard thinking.
3. Ownership: students who feel connected to the content and assignment learn more and are more motivated. Providing students with choice in their assignments is one way to create ownership.
4. Competence: students should feel competent in completing homework. In order to achieve this, it’s beneficial to abandon the one-size-fits-all model. Homework that students can’t do without help is not good homework.
5. Inspiring: A well-considered & clearly designed resource and task impacts positively upon student motivation. (Huntington Research School, 2017)
AGFS Independent Learning (IL) Standards:
At Key Stage 3:
- All subjects will issue scholars with the core knowledge required to be successful in a term’s programme of study to quiz via Quizlet. This will be broken down into ‘phases’ so that scholars can master each phase before moving on.
- In Maths, scholars will be quizzed on the core mathematical vocabulary required via Quizlet as well as completing pre-learning activities via Mathswatch.
- To demonstrate their understanding of the core knowledge, scholars will complete ‘prerequisite tests’ via Google Forms. Scholars must score 80% three times in a row in order to prove completion of the independent learning task. Scholars receive immediate, automated feedback on errors in this way.
- Scholars will be given at least 48hours to complete these tasks before the responses are reviewed and checked.
At Key Stage 4:
- Independent learning will follow the same format as in Key Stage 3, but an additional 2 x 40min written/ preparatory tasks will also be set.
Instructions, links and additional resources will be shared via Show My Homework and written into scholars’ planners. Scholars are encouraged to make use of Computer Science 3 after school each day to complete independent learning.
Endowment Foundation (2018). Homework (Secondary). Teaching & Learning Toolkit. Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidencesummaries/teaching-learning-toolkit/homework-secondary
Huntington Research School (2017). Homework: What Does The Evidence Say? Available at: https://huntington.researchschool.org.uk/2017/11/10/homework-what-does-theevidence-say/
Huntington Research School (2016). Homework: Are We Asking The Right Questions? Available at: https://huntington.researchschool.org.uk/2016/11/03/homework-are-weasking-the-right-questions/
Institute for Effective Education (2015). How much homework is too much? Available at: http://www.beib.org.uk/2015/04/how-much-homework-is-too-much/
Lee, S (2018). How all stakeholders helped redesign our homework process. Available at: https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/blog/redesign-homework/
Vatterott, C (2010). Five Hallmarks of Good Homework. Available at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/summer11/vol68/num10/FiveHallmarks-of-Good-Homework.aspx#
Willingham, D (2016). Important New Study of Homework. Available at: http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/10/18-1