How Much is too Much Homework?

As the weather gets warmer, the thoughts of most students are focused solely on one thing: getting out of school for the summer. But is getting out of school the only source of relief for students?
For many, the lack of homework provides copious amounts of extra time to relax and do things they do not have time to do during the school year.

According to U.S. News and World Report, high school teachers assign an average of 3.5 hours of homework per night. With additional responsibilities like after school jobs, extracurricular activities, and sports, this leaves students little to no time for themselves. It is not surprising, therefore, that students often report feeling overwhelmed.

Aisha Yusuf, senior at Woodland, took four AP classes this year. She reports having at least two to three hours of homework to do per night, with more on B-days due to her schedule of classes that day.

“I was prepared to receive hours of homework each night,” Yusuf explains, “because I take four AP classes, including AP Biology.”

“I think homework is detrimental in many cases. I think that homework has the potential to take the joy out of learning,” commented AP Psychology teacher Lisa Olivere.

Olivere says that homework serves two fundamental roles: reinforcement and the development of academic habits.

“The first purpose is reinforcement,” she explained. “Repetition and reinforcing a skill and allowing practice time solidifies it.”

Olivere also adds that homework is helpful for developing academic skills. “The second purpose is to allow students to develop their grit, or perseverance…and independent work habits.”

Therefore, in some ways, homework can be valuable.

“For students to be successful not only academically, but socially and professionally, to be able to work independently through problems…is very valuable.”

However, too much homework can be detrimental to students. For example, a study from Stanford University found that 56% of students report homework as being a primary source of stress. In addition, Oxford Learning argues that if students become overwhelmed with too much homework, they may stop doing it, losing the potential benefits they could have reaped by doing it.

Yusuf agrees: “Excessive homework just tires out the students and makes them lose valuable sleep.”

While it can be difficult to quantify exactly how much homework is too much, it is clear that homework that interferes with sleep and makes students overwhelmed is too much. Maintaining balance between school and the rest of life is important, especially so that homework remains a valuable part of education.For example, with extracurricular activities after school, many students do not have time to start their homework until late at night.

“We have students that are very engaged in the school community. They go to school and they don’t get home until six o’clock at night. They have essentially time to shower and eat and they’re back doing work and they’re up late at night, so it interferes with their sleep.”

In that way, homework ends up becoming of secondary importance.

“We kind of set students up for failure in that way by giving them too much homework. I think it compounds the stress that they already feel. It shifts from learning to getting the grade–an extrinsic reward. I think it’s counterproductive and it undermines learning in some ways.”