Startling Statement About Homework

From kindergarten to the final years of high school, recent research suggests that some students are getting excessive amounts of homework.

In turn, when students are pushed to handle a workload that’s out of sync with their development level, it can lead to significant stress — for children and their parents.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the National PTA (NPTA) support a standard of “10 minutes of homework per grade level” and setting a general limit on after-school studying.

For kids in first grade, that means 10 minutes a night, while high school seniors could get two hours of work per night.

But the most recent study to examine the issue found that kids in early elementary school received about three times the amount of recommended homework.

Published in The American Journal of Family Therapy, the 2015 study surveyed more than 1,100 parents in Rhode Island with school-age children.

The researchers found that first and second graders received 28 and 29 minutes of homework per night.

Kindergarteners received 25 minutes of homework per night, on average. But according to the standards set by the NEA and NPTA, they shouldn’t receive any at all.

A contributing editor of the study, Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, told CNN that she found it “absolutely shocking” to learn that kindergarteners had that much homework.

And all those extra assignments may lead to family stress, especially when parents with limited education aren’t confident in their ability to help kids with the work.

The researchers reported that family fights about homework were 200 percent more likely when parents didn’t have a college degree.

Some parents, in fact, have decided to opt out of the whole thing. The Washington Post reported in 2016 that some parents have just instructed their younger children not to do their homework assignments.

They report the no-homework policy has taken the stress out of their afternoons and evenings. In addition, it's been easier for their children to participate in after-school activities.

This new parental directive may be healthier for children, too.

Experts say there may be real downsides for young kids who are pushed to do more homework than the “10 minutes per grade” standard.

“The data shows that homework over this level is not only not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA, but there’s really a plethora of evidence that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, their grades, their self-confidence, their social skills, and their quality of life,” Donaldson-Pressman told CNN.

Read more: Less math and science homework beneficial to middle school students »

Consequences for high school students

Other studies have found that high school students may also be overburdened with homework — so much that it’s taking a toll on their health.

In 2013, research conducted at Stanford University found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from society.

That study, published in The Journal of Experimental Education, suggested that any more than two hours of homework per night is counterproductive.

However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework each night, on average.

To conduct the study, researchers surveyed more than 4,300 students at 10 high-performing high schools in upper middle-class California communities. They also interviewed students about their views on homework.

When it came to stress, more than 70 percent of students said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56 percent listing homework as a primary stressor. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms.

The researchers also found that spending too much time on homework meant that students were not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills. Students were more likely to forgo activities, stop seeing friends or family, and not participate in hobbies.

Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

"Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," said Denise Pope, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education, and a co-author of a study.

Read more: Should schools screen children for mental health problems? »

Working as hard as adults

A smaller New York University study published last year noted similar findings.

It focused more broadly on how students at elite private high schools cope with the combined pressures of school work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parents’ expectations.

That study, which appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, noted serious health effects for high schoolers, such as chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, and alcohol and drug use.

The research involved a series of interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, as well as a survey of a total of 128 juniors from two private high schools.

About half of the students said they received at least three hours of homework per night. They also faced pressure to take college-level classes and excel in activities outside of school.

Many students felt they were being asked to work as hard as adults, and noted that their workload seemed inappropriate for their development level. They reported having little time for relaxing or creative activities.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

The researchers expressed concern that students at high-pressure high schools can get burned out before they even get to college.

“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat — that’s what it can be for some of these students,” said Noelle Leonard, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing, and lead study author, in a press release.

Read more: Lack of mental healthcare for children reaches ‘crisis’ level »

What can be done?

Experts continue to debate the benefits and drawbacks of homework.

But according to an article published this year in Monitor on Psychology, there’s one thing they agree on: the quality of homework assignments matters.

In the Stanford study, many students said that they often did homework they saw as "pointless" or "mindless."

Pope, who co-authored that study, argued that homework assignments should have a purpose and benefit, and should be designed to cultivate learning and development.

It’s also important for schools and teachers to stick to the 10-minutes per grade standard.

In an interview with Monitor on Psychology, Pope pointed out that students can learn challenging skills even when less homework is assigned.

Pope described one teacher she worked with who taught advanced placement biology, and experimented by dramatically cutting down homework assignments. First the teacher cut homework by a third, and then cut the assignments in half.

The students’ test scores didn’t change.

“You can have a rigorous course and not have a crazy homework load,” Pope said.

Editor’s Note: The story was originally published on March 11, 2014. It was updated by Jenna Flannigan on August 11, 2016 and then updated again on April 11, 2017 by David Mills.

The introduction is the first impression that the reader has of the rest of the essay. A well formulated introduction will entice the reader to read on.  It serves as a road map for the rest of the paper.  After reading the introduction, the reader should not have trouble following the organization of the paper. 

The introduction contains an abundance of information. There are four features of an introduction:

  1. Grab the attention of the audience.
  2. Show the relationship between the attention getter and the topic
  3. Introduce the topic.
  4. State the thesis of the paper.

Getting the reader’s attention is the first facet of the introduction.

  • A vivid or unexpected anecdote

Think of what the world would be like if there were no more polar bears, no more ice pack, and no more Arctic Circle at all.

  • A provocative quotation (possibly quoting an expert)

In a shrinking ice environment, the ability of polar bears to find food, to reproduce, and to survive will all be reduced," said Scott Schliebe, Alaskan polar bear project leader.

  • A thought provoking or startling question

Is the world willing to watch a polar bear die of starvation?

  • Present surprising facts and statistics

In 50 years, there will be no more polar bears in the world.

  • Adapt a familiar quotation or phrase

To be concerned about global warming, or not; that is the question facing every person in the world right now.

Show the relationship between the attention getter and the topic.

The next step is to connect the attention grabber to the topic.  Then, provide background information introducing the topic. 

When you write an introduction, you need to clearly indicate the topic that you will be writing about. Be careful that you do not confuse your topic with your thesis.

These sentences must serve as a bridge to connect the attention getter to the topic

  • Introduce the topic
  • Explain the importance of the topic
  • Lead into the thesis statement
  • Provide brief and germane sentences that give just enough information

State the thesis statement.

The final part of the introduction is the thesis sentence(s).  This should be the most planned sentence in the essay. The statement must be specific and clearly stated. It should be placed at the end of the introduction.

The type of thesis depends on the purpose of the essay:

Expository paper which explains something to the reader

  • Global warming has impacted polar bears by decreasing population sizes, moving sea ice platforms farther apart, and increasing the scarcity of food.

Analytical paper which breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this analysis and assessment to the audience.

  • The polar bear population reveals one challenge: global warming effect on sea ice in the Arctic can see a loss of two thirds of the entire world’s polar bear population over the next fifty years.

Argumentative paper makes a claim about the topic, justifies the claim with specific evidence.  The goal is to convince the audience that the thesis is true based on the evidence provided.

  • Global warming has moved the polar bear to possible extinction.  Lack of food, natural habitat, and the Arctic weather will doom the polar bears’ survival.

The introduction familiarizes the reader with the subject and helps relate the purpose of the rest of the essay.  The essay will benefit by an interesting well planned introduction.

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