Most teachers, students, and parents realize that homework is an important part of a student’s educational development, according to theMetLife Survey of the American Teacher: The Homework Experience, the latest in a series that MetLife started in 1984. What’s more interesting is how teacher, student, and parental attitudes toward homework can shed light on many other aspects of education, such as a student’s future goals and parents’ attitudes toward their child’s school.
“Homework is a frequent topic of conversation among parents, teachers and students, and that conversation often leads to larger discussions about teaching and learning, parenting, and preparation for work, college, and life,” said MetLife Chairman and CEO Rob Henrikson. “This survey shares the voices and perspectives of those closest to homework. We believe these views can stimulate discussions in homes, schools, and communities across the nation, help with teacher preparation, and contribute to an improvement in education.”
According to the report, large majorities of teachers (83 percent), parents (81 percent), and students (77 percent) believe that doing homework is “important or very important.” Teachers (91 percent), parents (89 percent), and students (69 percent) also agree that doing homework helps students learn more in school. However, in regard to the quality of homework, MetLife finds a disconnect between parents and teachers, with 33 percent of parents saying that the quality of homework assignments was “fair” or “poor,” compared to only 16 percent of teachers.
Additionally, a sizeable number of students say that their homework is not relevant to their current schoolwork or their future goals, with 26 percent saying that their homework is “busywork” and not related to what they are learning in school. Interestingly, one quarter of teachers agree, with 4 percent saying that a “great deal” of the homework they assign is busywork and 19 percent agreeing that “some” of their students’ assignments are busywork.
At the secondary school level, 30 percent of students say that their homework is busywork-a large percentage, but much smaller than in 2002 when 74 percent of secondary school students said that their homework was busywork. Among secondary school teachers, 33 percent (compared to 18 percent of elementary school teachers) say that their homework assignments are busywork.
Turning to how frequently homework is assigned, MetLife finds that homework is a nearly daily part of school life for most students, with 77 percent of students surveyed assigned homework at least three days a week and 42 percent given homework every day. Among secondary school students, nearly half (46 percent) received homework assignments every school day. The report also finds that students who earn the best grades are the most likely to receive homework assignments. According to the report, 52 percent of students who receive mostly As have homework assigned to them every day, compared to only 43 percent for students who earn As and Bs and 34 percent of students who receive Cs or below.
Similar patterns emerged when students were asked how much time they spent on homework. According to the survey, 45 percent of students say that they spend at least one hour a day on homework. Among secondary school students, 50 percent spend at least one hour a day on homework, while 21 percent say that they spend two hours or more on homework. Nearly one in four (22 percent) of secondary school students report that they spend fifteen minutes or less doing homework on a typical school day.
Students who held a low opinion of homework or lacked time for their homework are more likely to be low-achieving and to be associated with other risk factors. For example, the report finds that students who do not believe their homework is important are more likely to get Cs or below (40 percent versus 27 percent), do not plan to go to college after high school (26 percent versus 15 percent), and rate the quality of their education as only “fair” or “poor” (29 percent versus 13 percent).
The complete report is available at http://www.metlife.com/WPSAssets/10124301191202765628V1FTeacherSurveyHomeworkFinal.pdf.