Regulating the amount of homework in elementary school:
How much is too much?


A research project funded by Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation

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About


One of the most heated debates among educational stakeholders, parents and research scientists is the extent to which homework given to elementary school children can make a significant improvement on academic achievement. While there is consensus on the fact that assigning homework can lead to important non-academic benefits (e.g. teaching self-discipline), many opponents of homework question its positive effects on academic skills (e.g. better retention of factual knowledge) and point out that oversized homework can potentially lead to negative effects (e.g. increased amount of stress within family or satiation). Although much research has been conducted on this topic in the past decades, so far there are no rigorously conducted experimental studies that establish a clear cause-effect relationship between variations in the amount of homework assignments and academic achievement, particularly in elementary school.

Thus, one of the aims of this project is to conduct a randomized control trial that would measure the extent of which oversized homework (relative to the theoretical framework of 10-minutes per grade rule) can significantly improve the academic achievement of elementary school children. Furthermore, while literature suggests that structured academic work can impact differently children on account of their variations in socio-economic status and executive functions skills, it is not clear to what extent can the relationship between academic performance and variations in the amount of homework be mediated by such inter-individual variability. Thus, another aim of the project is to assess whether executive functions and socio-economic status can mediate the potentially positive effects of homework on academic achievement in elementary school. Addressing these issues will help educational stakeholders worldwide to improve educational policy decisions in order to better serve the educational and developmental needs of elementary school children.

This research project is funded by Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation under the program P1 Development of National System of Research and Development (grant number PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-0164).

Research Team


Principal Investigator

This research grant is awarded to Dr. Dacian Dolean from Babes-Bolyai University, Department of Psychology.

Mentor

The research activity is supervised by Dr. Laura Visu-Petra from Babes-Bolyai University, Department of Psychology.

Methodology


Work Package 1: To measure the extent of which variations of homework will lead to increases of academic performance, the project proposes an experimental design (randomized control trial). The participating students will be randomly distributed in 3 treatment groups. Each group will receive different amount of homework (per subject), but an estimated similar amount of homework (overall).

Work Package 2: To measure the extent of which socio-economic status and executive functions mediate the relationship between the amount of classwork and homework, the project will conduct a a short-term longitudinal study.

Results


The results of the experimental research can be found here:

In Romanian:

Papers:
Dolean, D.D. & Lervag, A.(under review). Variations in the amount of homework assigned in elementary school can impact academic achievement.
Dolean, D.D., Lervag, A., Visu-Petra, L, & Melby-Lervag, M. (under review). Language skills and not executive functions predict the development of reading comprehension.
Dolean, D. (under review). Home literacy practices that support the language and literacy development of the bilingual children: A longitudinal case study

Conferences:
Dolean, D.D. (2019, February). The Latest Research in Reading: How Can We Help Struggling Readers? Paper presentation to the annual convention of South Carolina Literacy Association, Hilton Head, SC.
Dolean, D.D. (2019, March). The Underlying Cognitive Mechanisms that Influence the Reading Development: What do Research Findings Teach Us About How to Teach? Paper presentation to the annual convention of South Carolina Council of Exceptional Children, Myrtle Beach, SC.
Dolean, D.D. & Visu-Petra, L. (2019, May). Socio-economic status predicts reading comprehension beyond executive functions. Poster presentation to the 31st Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington DC.
Dolean, D. D. & Chis, A. (2019, July). How much is too much homework for elementary school children? Paper presentation to the annual convention of the Education, Reflection, Development, Ed. a 6-a, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Dolean, D. D. & Chis, A. (2019, August). Home literacy environment predictors of reading and writing development over the summer break. Poster presentation to the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.
Dolean, I & Dolean, D. D. (2019, Septembrie). Cat de multa este prea multa tema pentru acasa? Studiu experimental. Editia a 4-a a simpozionului national Motivatie, performanta si responsabilitate in actul educational”, Editia VI. Scoala Baciu, Jud. Cluj.
Dolean, D.D. (2020, February). How can we reliably monitor the progress of reading skills? The 57th International Conference of Learning Disability Association of America, Orlando, FL, USA

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