When given the opportunity to complete homework tasks or to take out the garbage, to clean the garage, to give up the iPad, or to converse with their parents, students will likely always chose to take the punishment of chores, to endure the deprivation of electronic communication and social media, or to accept meaningful interaction with parents over completing their homework. Numerous causes keep students from completing their torturous homework. Among these reasons are the dissociation between the homework tasks and the classroom material, the disinterest of the student regarding the subject matter, and the sheer volume of homework that is assigned. However, most students avoid homework because it is time consuming, boring, and mandated rather than suggested.
When time consuming tasks get in the way of a student’s social life, sports activities, music and art groups, or time relaxing, those tasks soon take on a negative energy force. Students detest having to complete homework after attending school all day and will often find any way they can to get out of completing it. As students get older, their motivation decreases even more, and “research indicates that students’ overall intrinsic academic motivation declines along the years of schooling” (Katz). Students retaliate against pile of homework, and teachers often respond by assigning even more. Perhaps more of a power struggle than an attempt at education, the homework battle continues until graduation day for most students.
The homework battle is exacerbated by students’ claims that homework is boring. As explained by educational researcher Joseph Simplicio, homework for students often consists of rote tasks, such as memorization, handwriting practice, math drills, or nightly readings. Given that student schedules are already filled with much more appealing options, such as video games, television, social gatherings, sports, music, art, or shopping, it is not a surprise that homework, in many cases, takes a back seat to other, more preferable, activities.
The other activities that consume a student’s day are often chosen rather than forced. This is a third reason that student often hate homework. Homework is assigned, required, forced, or in the worst case scenario, given as a punishment for some minor transgression. As minors, students already have enough of their choices taken from them, such as when to get up, when to go to bed, where to go to school, how to dress, or what time to arrive home by in order to avoid unnecessary worry on their parents’ part. Driving homework into the mix of “must-do’s” only further alienates the concept of learning from the student and makes it much less likely that the student will actually complete any of it.
While no current movement is underway to do away with homework for students, it is possible to engage them in the learning process on a more consistent and interesting level by taking just a few simple steps. First, teachers could limit the amount of homework a student has. This would take coordination at the grade level between instructors, but the beneficial outcome for the learning process would outweigh the communicative coordination that would be necessary. Second, ensuring that homework consists of critical thinking opportunities as well as multimodal opportunities for learning would go a long way in enticing students to complete it. Finally, offering extra credit homework opportunities or levels of achievement through extracurricular assignments would make homework more appealing to many students. Currently, most students avoid homework because it is time consuming, boring, and mandated rather than suggested. In the future, at-home learning could be considered a pleasure rather than a chore with just a few easy modifications to the concept of homework.
Katz, I., Kaplan, A., & Gueta, G. Students’ needs, teachers’ support, and motivation for doing homework: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Experimental Education, 78(2), 246-267.
Simplicio, J. C. Homework in the 21st century: The antiquated and ineffectual implementation of a time honored educational strategy. Education, 126(1), 138-142.