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Homework and achievement: Explaining the different strengths of relation at the elementary and secondary school levels


Four explanations were tested for why the correlation between homework and achievement is weaker in elementary school than secondary school. Eighty-two teachers answered questions about their homework practices, and their responses were related to their students' achievement test scores. No evidence was found to suggest the weaker correlation in elementary school associated with a restricted variation in amounts of homework in early grades nor that teachers assigned more homework to poor-performing classes. Evidence did suggest that teachers in early grades assigned homework more often to develop young students' management of time, a skill rarely measured on standardized achievement tests. Also consistent with this hypothesis, elementary school teachers were more likely to use homework to review class material and to go over homework in class, while secondary school teachers more often used homework to prepare for and enrich class lessons. Finally, there was weak evidence that young students who were struggling in school took more time to complete homework assignments.

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Muhlenbruck, L., Cooper, H., Nye, B. et al. Homework and achievement: Explaining the different strengths of relation at the elementary and secondary school levels. Social Psychology of Education 3, 295–317 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009680513901

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  • Elementary School
  • Education Research
  • School Teacher
  • Young Student
  • Weak Evidence