Aside from the question of the basic effectiveness of homework as a learning strategy, there are both positive and negative potential outcomes or side effects of homework (Cooper & colleagues, 1998). On the positive side, homework is believed to improve learning and achievement through better retention of factual knowledge, increased understanding, and improvements in critical thinking. Homework is also thought to reinforce self-discipline, organizational strategies, and study habits and skills. Homework is sometimes used as a way to get parents involved in their children's schooling. Finally, the longer-term benefits may be a general orientation toward inquisi-tiveness and positive attitudes toward learning.
On the negative side, if overused, homework may lead to student fatigue and loss of interest in academic material. The pressure accompanying homework completion could lead to cheating. Parental involvement that is based on conflict or that is uninformed or inaccurate is not helpful. Finally, homework may lead to increased inequities in schooling because of the false assumption that all homes will provide an appropriate place, time, and support for homework completion. Families in low socioeconomic conditions may struggle to provide these supports. Language differences between the home and school further complicate parental ability to help with homework when needed (Cosden & colleagues, 2001). Finally, variations in student ability complicate the intended benefits of assigning homework. Approximately 28% of average-achieving students and 56% of students with learning disabilities have problems completing their homework (Polloway & colleagues, 1992).
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