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Analyzing the Impact of Homework on Academic Performance: A Comprehensive Review

1. Introduction to Homework and Its Role in Education

Terms used in the research literature to characterize homework include mindless, punishment, busy work, good, drill, and review and practice. However, the uncertainty is that comments on homework have usually turned singularly around the issue of quantity and range of time on task while less focus is given to the aggregate properties of homework rather than traditional rote learning or repetitive practice. This shows, however, that homework, similar to examination, both have problems which are associated with the policies, curriculum, teacher involvement, and the quality of experiences which belong to instructional and learning exercises, undesirable outputs both from motivation in the former case to permanency in the latter, as well as difficulty in accurately measuring attributes. In the discussion of learning skills, the growth of incentive is the learning disposition that enhances motivation and a student’s effort toward cognitive growth and development. While for attaining performance goals, learning and teaching are the combined efforts toward the highest levels of cognitive performance in children.

Homework is a prominent fact of the formal education process and has been present as long as the formal education process has existed. It is a powerful study design and learning time management activity for pupils, variously discussed in several research works in the examination literature to clarify its outcomes on performance. Indeed, homework is assured a particularly major part in schooling and it is the center of a quantity of included debates within the curriculum, psychometric, instructive, psychology, and learning theory literature. Similarly, research works analyze and debate its novelty also within the larger context of the superior education process covering curriculum goals, pedagogy and instructional design, using resources of learning and external reinforcement, measurement, testing, and assessment, educational achievement, learning, teaching, and instruction, student voice and school cultures, and multiculturalism and culturally relevant education among others.

2. Benefits and Drawbacks of Homework

Drawbacks of homework: – Trouble with Homework: When children have trouble with homework, it tends to take up much more of the parent’s time. – Disadvantages and Inequality: The playing field is not level. Children with learning difficulties who have to do additional work at home to keep up are doubly disadvantaged, as are parents who have less chance to help due to their lower level of education. – Tiredness: After an entire day at school, it is only natural for children to be tired. They may find it hard to concentrate, especially on the more difficult subjects.

Homework is a common type of academic task. There is evidence that students with higher amounts of homework achieve better test scores. Homework has clear benefits for both parents and teachers. Younger children need to have somebody close by to motivate and help them. As children progress through primary school, they are expected to work more and more independently. Homework is an opportunity for family members to participate in learning activities. Parents can help their child by providing materials for the home, for instance, pencil cases and coloring pencils, by answering their questions, and by creating a good study environment.

3. Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Homework

Previous literature has identified a number of student-level factors that influence the effectiveness of homework, including the student’s amount of schoolwork, motivation and study habits, and time-management skills. This section examines each of these factors in turn. As is also shown in Figure 1, children in both poor and wealthy homes may have too little schoolwork assigned to them, reducing the amount of learning and cognitive development these students experience. Furthermore, this study shows that too much homework can lead to negative health consequences for students. Restricting the time that students spend on homework may improve equally the internal and external validity of the studies being used to compute the causal effect of homework on student achievement.

Previous sections described some of the many reasons students may be asked to complete homework and ways that teachers can increase the likelihood that the homework assignments they make are carried out successfully. In this section, we turn to the way in which homework is expected to improve academic performance. Clearly, many assignment attributes could affect the influence of homework on academic outcomes. For example, homework might be an effective way to develop knowledge and skills within a specific domain, but such ‘drill and practice’ work may be uncomplicated to complete and relatively easy to mark, reducing any added value from completing the tasks. In addition to the objectives of the homework assignment, the effectiveness of the homework assignment could be influenced by various student-level and family-level factors.

4. Innovative Approaches to Homework Design and Implementation

Even though the conceptualization and design of homework have improved, conceptual innovation is not new. John Milton, in his 1644 work Areopagitica, pointed out that the practice and benefit of active homework depend on the connection between school and family. However, the literature findings and policy guidance remain mixed and contrasting, and several concerns about both the rationale behind homework and its potential harmful effects on some students, families, and teachers still preoccupy educational research and practice. This reflective review extensively discusses answers to the following key questions: What are the main shortcomings of traditional homework design models? What do papers indicate as innovative homework characteristics? and How can innovative homework designs affect its impact on students’ academic performance? With these questions in mind, the main purpose of this article is twofold. First, we analyze the emerging discourses from the teacher perspective and the underlying rationales and results of the innovative homework design studies. Second, we discuss and interpret the opportunities and the challenges of these new, pro-learning focused homework designs and their suitability for the increasing alternatives in integration styles and assessment methods. In short, this review paper acknowledges that educational practice might be far more complex and refined than simply trying to estimate the average effects of homework on student academic performance regardless of the intrinsic properties of the homework itself.

This section provides a comprehensive review of the various sources of information pertaining to innovative approaches to homework and takes stock of recent empirical studies (published from January 2009 to December 2019) providing causal estimates of the effect of homework designed using some innovation. The follow-up sections review the complementary literature, which includes mainly meta-reviews that statistically synthesize and compare findings from the diverse studies available on the impact of homework design covering all periods. This effort reveals tentative evidence that innovative homework design targeted at reversing the ineffective impact of homework on learning outcomes and at improving the learning experience might increase academic performance at least for some students and in some learning contexts. The most successful innovations combine certain characteristics, such as aligning homework with in-class activities and providing feedback, and center the student.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Research

This systematic review also highlights several areas in need of future research. Despite identifying several potential explanatory mechanisms for the relationship between homework and student academic performance, the present review only synthesizes the literature, with authors drawing mainly from studies in the United States and the United Kingdom. A considerable number of studies on the impact of homework can be found in different societies and cultures, providing an opportunity to conduct a meta-analysis based on geographic or culturally-based differences to examine potential heterogeneities among various countries and regions. Second, our review is confined to studies conducted in only elementary and secondary schools, and some of the articles are over 25 years old. However, during the last three decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of secondary schools in the United States and abroad, as well as a substantial increase in the number of program options for students who need special education and alternative options for students who are at risk of academic failure. As a result, the potential effect of homework on students at different levels of education has been overlooked. Future research might provide important insights into the effect of homework on students at different education levels. Third, in the foundational literature, homework completion rates were found to significantly interact with student achievement. In the meta-analysis, this was also confirmed. However, recent methodological progress has made the meta-analysis of interaction terms possible. Considering this progress, future research might consistently add interaction terms or possible moderators to study the effect of homework on academic performance. Finally, a substantial shortage of economics and education literature on the topic of homework exists. The topic of homework warrants much more attention from researchers who apply beneficial economics and education theories. Finishing homework can lead to four important behaviors that are called task management strategies, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and motivation. These behaviors are essential not only in education but also in the labor market, military, and countries in times of crises. Policymakers should also show more scholarly interest in the topic of homework in the years to come. Overall, homework is an important topic that deserves more attention in education and economics. Only by studying the effects of homework can we ensure that students’ time is spent efficiently and effectively.

5.2. Recommendations for Future Research

In sum, the current review cumulatively suggests that the average effect of homework on student academic performance is generally positive, showing that homework adds as little as five to seven percentage points to a student’s grade, which can impact a student’s GPA and final exam scores. The study also found that students who receive regular homework assignments and are willing to spend additional time and effort to finish them score significantly higher than students who do not receive homework. In addition, regular homework may play a role in shaping students’ behavior, as homework completion is enhanced, so students will arrive at class prepared and ready to participate. This not only benefits the individual student but contributes to the greater collective good of society, since prepared and active students contribute to the development of collaborative skills. Furthermore, despite empirical evidence supporting a relationship between homework and academic performance, the effects of homework on academic skill or knowledge retention are minimal because homework does not influence the students’ readiness to learn or the accumulation of well-being.

5.1. Conclusion

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