Is homework effective? We asked Riverside students and teachers.

Students at Riverside were split almost down the middle when asked whether they believe homework is effective or not.

In a survey of 177 students conducted by The Pirates’ Hook, 52.5 percent said homework was not effective, while 47.5 said it was. 

Pie Chart of the Survey Responses

Many of the students who believe homework is ineffective either say it’s because it takes away their free time after school, affects their sleep schedule, or is generally useless because once they get stuck on their homework at home, there’s no one to help them. 

Sophomore Rachael Ades, Junior Jeremiah Bell, and Sophmore Samantha Sutton are three students who don’t feel it enhances their learning. 

“[Homework] is mostly busywork, and is usually just work we can get done in class,” Ades said. “School would be more enjoyable if we didn’t need to spend our outside-of-school-lives doing school work.”

“It’s a waste of time,” said Bell, “because if you get stuck there is no one to help and people have other lives out of school and[teachers] expect us to have all this homework done. Like why are y’all being like this? Let us have our freedom out of school.”

Sutton also shared her opinion on homework’s ineffectiveness. 

“I can never get myself to do homework,” she said. “It only really serves as a source of stress rather than something made to help me.”

On the other hand, almost half of the students surveyed said homework was actually effective. Most of them supported this opinion by saying that homework was good practice, including Freshman Radia Khan.

“It is effective because it helps you more with the lesson you are being taught,” she said. “It gives more practice to help with tests and for you (students) to be more engaged in class the next day because you know the material more. In fifth grade, I remember I barely had math homework and that’s why I did so bad on the end-of-year tests. As much as it takes a lot of effort and time with all of our busy lives, it’s still important.” 

Sophmore Ada Taylor said science supports the benefits of homework. 

“A lot of times homework reiterates what you do in class,” Taylor says. “It takes the human brain learning something seven times to effectively remember it, and as much as we (students) hate homework, it genuinely helps us.”

In a 2009 interview for EducationWeek, education scholar Cathy Vatterott, also the mother of a child with learning disabilities, shared her views on homework, and how parents’ and students’ personal lives play a role in making homework effective.

“I like the 10-minute rule, which is recommended by the Parent Teachers Association and the National Education Association,” Vatterott told EducationWeek. “Kids should have no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level, per night.”

A lot of students surveyed at Riverside showed great passion about the topic in their answers, saying how much they dislike homework because it does not help their learning, or how much they love homework because it’s great practice. 

Overall, the results in this survey show that homework’s efficacy is not straightforward. It can be based on the subject the students are taking, their preferred method of learning, extracurricular activities, and their personal life.

Understanding that each student has a different style of learning and life schedule is something that American History teacher Amanda Pulliam keeps in mind when assigning homework.

“Students are doing sports and they have jobs outside of school and they’ve got responsibilities at home,” Pulliam said. “We owe it to our students to let them know what the homework is for the week at the beginning of the week or earlier so that they can plan their schedule and figure out when they’re going to have time to do the homework.”

Similarly, English teacher Mary Foster gives students a homework schedule so they can plan accordingly.

“If you have a game on Tuesday night, and you know you’re not going to be able to read what you were supposed to do Tuesday night a week ago,” Fosters said. “You can go ahead and, like, work ahead to make sure you don’t get behind.”

Mary Foster Photo By Elizabeth Williams

But Foster also thinks parents play a role in making sure their children are keeping a balance between school and their personal lives.

“There are always a few who struggle because either they’re overextended,” she said. “They’re in 14 clubs, and play a sport or are a leader at their church, da-da-da-da-da.”

“I think part of that is kids need to balance their lives a little bit, and parents need to let them,” she said.

Both Foster and Pulliam agree that often the reason students are overwhelmed by homework is that they don’t use their time efficiently during class.

“I give time in class where it can be finished in class,” Pulliam said. “Anything that is not finished in class they need to finish on their own for homework.” 

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