October 02, 2013

In new study, Professor Galloway questions the value of homework

Assistant Professor Mollie Galloway has co-authored a study that suggests that traditional homework assignments might not teach productivity and responsibility.

Every week in homes across the country, parents search for new tactics that will motivate their kids to do homework. Assistant professor Mollie Galloway sides with the students in a new study entitled, “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools, which she co-authored. Her research suggests that educators and parents who praise homework as a tool for teaching responsibility ignore the stress, competition and boredom it encourages. As an alternative, Galloway proposes assignments crafted from real-world relationships.

“Informal and extracurricular contexts are rich with learning opportunities, yet students doing more homework simply have less time to cultivate their social, physical, civic, or spiritual selves,” Galloway said in an interview with The Oregonian. “They are spending more time alone, and less engaged with family, friends, or community.”

Students in the ten upper-middle class communities Galloway studied confront an average of just over three hours of homework each night. In the report, Galloway and her colleagues quoted students who found their assignments, whether worksheets or essays, to be “pointless” and “mundane.” Instead of always prioritizing work over leisure, Galloway suggests, parents should meet with teachers and administrators and discuss ways to make take-home assignments more constructive.

“Key questions,” Galloway told The Oregonian, “might include: What are the purposes of homework, and how do our current practices align with our stated purposes? Is homework supporting student learning and development, and how do we know?”

To learn more about the study or Galloway’s research, you can do your homework by reading the full study here or checking out Galloway’s faculty profile.


Caleb Diehl ‘17 contributed to this story.