Homework Homewrecker: Teachers recognize overwhelmed students

by Grace Jorgensen | Class of 2018

   You arrive home after a hard, 3-hour practice and a stressful day of school. You would love to eat supper, take a bath and call it a night but you still have so much more to do: two tests to study for, a final English paper to submit and 15 math problems that you have no idea how to do- all due tomorrow.

   Many Hudson students can relate to these long days and even longer nights of being a high schooler. It seems the never-ending homework has especially left them feeling over stressed and overwhelmed.

The Benefits & Drawbacks Of Homework

   Most students don’t want to hear the truth- that homework itself can be very beneficial to students. According to an article written by Concordia University in 2016, homework can teach students important life skills such as responsibility, time management and perseverance.

   However, Denise Pope, a Stanford researcher, finds that too much homework is actually damaging to a student’s well being and socialization. In her studies, she confirms that too much homework creates less time for social interaction, a greater amount of stress and even reduces a student’s health. These determinants are no surprise to parents like Susan Entriken.

 

   “There are times when I see my kids get more irritable and see their stress levels rise due to too much homework,” said Entriken, mother to senior Taylan, sophomore Becca and 7th grader Tate. “It seems all projects, papers and tests hit at once.” Entriken also agreed that homework can be both pointless and excessive at times. “Especially in the younger ages, when it is something like crosswords or word finds, I find those to be a waste of time,” said Entriken.

Students- You May Be The Problem

   Perhaps students would be less overwhelmed not if less homework was given but rather if the student better used his or her time to get it done. Eighth period study hall supervisor Nancy Uden found what many teachers and parents suspect: That not all students use their time to complete assignments.

 

   Uden observed in two days of study hall, that only about half of the students were on task. An average of 17 out of the 32 students were on task during their study hall. Those students who were off task wasted 42 minutes of class time that they could have been using to get their homework done. That adds up to 210 minutes, or 3 ½ hours, wasted a week. This does not even take into account the time students procrastinate at home that night as they check Facebook or play games when they could be doing homework.

 

   The students that claim that they have too much homework could be the ones misusing their time to get it done during school.

A More Thoughtful Approach

   At Hudson, several teachers work to avoid overloading students with homework. Uden takes students' activities outside of her class into consideration when assigning homework.

 

   “Part of it is the mom in me,” said Uden, who is mother to HHS graduates Justin and Trey. “I know how hard it can be to get homework done after practices and other activities.” Uden also uses a method approved by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association called the “10-Minute Rule.” It suggests that students should receive, in total, 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level, which means that 1st graders would have 10 minutes of homework total per night, while 12th graders would have 120 minutes total per night. Clearly, not all teachers consider the “10-Minute Rule” at HHS. Out of 40 high school students polled, 44 percent spent close to two hours on homework each night. In addition, 35 percent said they have spent as many as 180-240 minutes (3-4 hours) before on an assignment that was due the next day.

 

   Surprisingly, 42 percent of students had spent more than 240 minutes (4 hours). This is more than double the recommended time frame.

Seeking A Solution

   High school science teacher John Paulson believes that he has found a way to help resolve the problematic issue of homework. “I try to put myself in the students’ shoes,” Paulson said. “If an adult works five to eight hours a day, and a student works 11 hours a day (eight hours at school plus three hours of homework that night), how is that fair?”

  

   Paulson doesn’t assign traditional homework, but rather activities and projects that students have a reasonable amount of time to get done in class. If the students are unable to get the work done during class time, then they can complete it at home.

Paulson also lets his students redo graded assignments instead of moving on to the next topic. He believes that failure leads to success, so students in his class can retake until they understand the material. “I want to reward failure by allowing students to retake,” said Paulson “because to me, the (learning) process is more important than getting the right answer.”

 

   This change has sparked differing reactions from students. Sophomore Hannah Wheeler believes that this new method is harder for her compared to last year. “It’s overwhelming,” said Wheeler, who feels that she works on several projects at once. “I feel like I’m not learning more, I’m just doing it to get it done.”

 

   Sophomore Abi Henderson, on the other hand, likes this style better than last year when she took physical science with Paulson. “I like it more because it is at your own pace,” said Henderson, “ I can challenge myself while doing these projects.” Uden and Paulson, both said they will continue to search for a solution to less homework stress. “If this way doesn’t work out, I’ll keep trying again until something does,” said Paulson, “because I want all students to be able to succeed.”