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How Much Time To Spend On Homework In College

College expectations are significantly different from the actual time that most high school students spend on outside-of-school work, but the total picture may not be that far off. In order to help students understand, we crunch some more numbers.

how much time to spend on homework in college

Many students may not spend 30 or more hours/week studying, but understanding what is expected may motivate them to put in some additional study time. That takes planning, organizing and discipline. Students need to be aware of obstacles and distractions (social media, partying, working too many hours) that may interfere with their ability to find balance.

The old rule of thumb for homework is that a college student should spend two hours studying outside of class for each Carnegie credit hour. A student taking a 16-hour course load should devote roughly 32 hours a week to homework, spending a total of 48 hours each week dedicated to academics. Perhaps that would have been reasonable in 1906, the year that the Carnegie hour was invented, when only a small sector of the population went to college and more than 80 percent of college students attended elite, private, residential institutions.

How much homework should we assign? There is no one right answer, but it is crucial to spend time thoughtfully focusing on the question. We can begin by asking what we wish students to accomplish outside of class and why. We also need to ask about the level of the class, the amount of preparation students bring to it and the material constraints on their time outside of class. Finally, we need to be honest with ourselves about the actual amount of work we are assigning, and we need to make the hard choices before the class begins. As an undergraduate English major, I was assigned Moby Dick to read in a week; in graduate school, we had a week to devour Being and Time. I am positive no one finished either tome.

The survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers found, among other things, that high school teachers on average assign about 3.5 hours of homework each week. For high school students who typically have five classes with different teachers, that could mean as much as 17.5 hours each week. By comparison, the survey found middle school teachers assign about 3.2 hours of homework each week and kindergarten through fifth grade teachers assign about 2.9 hours each week.

For younger students, having more meaningful homework assignments can help build time-management skills, as well as enhance parent-child interaction, Norris says. But the bigger connection for high school students, she says, is doing assignments outside of the classroom that get them interested in a career path.

Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.

The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

Although Kai knows that studying is important and he is trying to keep up with homework, he really needs to work on time management. This is challenging for many college students, especially ones with lots of responsibilities outside of school. Unlike high school classes, college classes meet less often, and college students are expected to do more independent learning, homework, and studying.

Collect EVERYTHING you will need for the homework you are working on (like your laptop for writing assignments and pencils for problem sets). Getting up for supplies takes you off course and makes it that much harder to get back to your homework.

These results highlight the important role connectivity plays in both students' academic work and leisure interests; but more importantly, these findings suggest that much of students' time online is spent on activities related to their coursework. These data are especially salient when we bear in mind that the majority of students (69%) reported working a job while taking classes over the past year; among those, more than half (57%) work between 10 and 29 hours per week. Thus, it seems that Jack and Jane do not have much spare time. Providing dependable Wi-Fi connectivity is key to supporting students in the work they do for their academics, particularly when we also consider that the majority of students prefer blended learning environments. While students do not spend hours on end binging Stranger Things or playing Call of Duty, reliable Wi-Fi connections, especially in on-campus housing and in common spaces, offer them opportunities to balance the demands of college with popular leisure activities and connect with other communities. After all, all work and no play makes Jane and Jack dull students.

In first through third grade, students should receive one to three assignments per week, taking them no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. In fourth through sixth grade, students should receive two to four assignments per week, lasting between fifteen and forty-five minutes. At this age, the primarily goal of homework is to help your child develop the independent work and learning skills that will become critical in the higher grades. In the upper grades, the more time spent on homework the greater the achievement gains.

For students in middle and high school grades there are greater overall benefits from time engaged in practicing and thinking about school work. These benefits do not appear to depend as much upon immediate supervision or feedback as they do for elementary students. In seventh through ninth grade we recommend students receive three to five sets of assignments per week, lasting between forty-five and seventy-five minutes per set. In high school students will receive four to five sets of homework per week, taking them between seventy-five and 150 minutes per set to complete.

As children progress through school, homework and the amount of time engaged in homework increases in importance. Due to the significance of homework at the older age levels, it is not surprising that there is more homework assigned. Furthermore, homework is always assigned in college preparatory classes and assigned at least three quarters of the time in special education and vocational training classes. Thus at any age, homework may indicate our academic expectations of children.

Regardless of the amount of homework assigned, many students unsuccessful or struggling in school spend less rather than more time engaged in homework. It is not surprising that students spending less time completing homework may eventually not achieve as consistently as those who complete their homework.

We are not completely certain. Some American educators have concluded that if students in America spent as much time doing homework as students in Asian countries they might perform academically as well. It is tempting to assume such a cause and effect relationship.

However, this relationship appears to be an overly simple conclusion. We know that homework is important as one of several influential factors in school success. However, other variables, including student ability, achievement, motivation and teaching quality influence the time students spend with homework tasks. Many students and their parents have told us they experience less difficulty being motivated and completing homework in classes in which they enjoyed the subject, the instruction, the assignments and the teachers.

The benefits from homework are the greatest for students completing the most homework and doing so correctly. Thus, students who devote time to homework are probably on a path to improved achievement. This path also includes higher quality instruction, greater achievement motivation and better skill levels.

William Kirk, a senior at Highland High School, spends nearly an hour each night doing homework on average. That's too much, he said. "I think it just has to be done to get a grade in class," Kirk said. "It doesn't teach me anything." Chris Gilmer and Jaime Perea, also seniors there, find homework essential. They take college prep and Advanced Placement classes, so usually have several hours of homework each night. "It's not a problem with me," Gilmer said. "It's preparing me for college and for the long run." "People complain about homework," Perea said. "Most of those people are just lazy." How much homework is too much? And are there policies that address how much time should be devoted to homework? We sampled homework policies in several local school districts and schools to see how much they recommend. POLICIES AS GUIDELINES Earlier this month, the Davis Joint Unified School District in northern California decided to ask parents if they think teachers overload their kids with homework. The district plans to use the survey results to reshape homework policies, which currently allow its teachers to assign 10 minutes of homework each day beginning in kindergarten, and increase it by 10 minutes for each grade level, capping at three hours for high schoolers. Those guidelines are not too far off from what districts here ask. Among districts with elementary and middle schools, the recommended homework dose in kindergarten ranges from 15 minutes to 20 minutes per day for four days. Kindergarten policies ask parents to also put in work by reading to their children. As a student graduates to higher grades, that time goes up to roughly 30 minutes in third grade, 45 minutes in grade six, and about an hour in junior high. The Kern High School District recommends one hour for each class per week, while college preparatory students should expect two hours. Students can take a handful of college prep or AP classes at one time. Some districts, like Fruitvale and Rosedale Union school districts, leave it up to school sites to police homework. Others use a general board policy, which isn't strictly policed. The policies, school officials say, are instead used as a guide. "Ours are just guidelines for teachers to follow," said Bakersfield City School District spokesman Steve Gabbitas. "It's up to the principal to see how it's being implemented." HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? Homework should be relevant and purposeful, said Denise Pope, a senior lecturer in Stanford University's School of Education and director of Challenge Success, a project with schools to counter the causes of adolescent academic stress. The most valuable homework is that which is perceived by students to be meaningful, while simply providing "busy work" does nothing, she said. A research paper she co-authored, "Hazardous Homework?," analyzes the effects of homework on students. Among the findings: "Any student who is doing more than 3 1/2 hours of homework a night is actually at risk for higher stress levels and poor mental and physical health," Pope said. In elementary schools, "homework is overrated and over-assigned," she said. In general, more homework is being assigned today than years before. Pope's study attributes studies from Harris Cooper, whose research has had an impact on policies and practices nationwide. FAMILY AFFAIR All homework policies in districts address some form of parent participation, whether it's reading to kindergartners or having parents act as a resource. Throughout the years, Pope said, there's been a change in mindset at schools, where the thought is that more assigned homework results in students getting up to state standards. "What we see is that parents expect more homework, and districts expect it," Pope said. For Lisa Anderson, helping Audrey, her third-grade Gifted and Talented Education student at Downtown Elementary, can be daunting, she said. They've had nights where they spent nearly three hours on work, she said. "It's overwhelming," Anderson said. Leslie Painter finds homework sometimes cuts into family time. She helps her eighth-grader, Tristan, with algebra. "Sometimes homework is too much," said Painter, whose son also goes to Downtown. "But I know there are standards to keep up with." Jillian and Ronny Acosta spend about 15 minutes a day reading to Donnie, their second-grader at Thorner Elementary School. Then there's a weekly packet of math and spelling problems Donnie has to complete. "It's been a while since I've been in the second grade, but I don't remember having as much work as they get today," Jillian Acosta said. However, little Donnie doesn't seem to mind. "It's good," he said. "It helps me learn."


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