The Role of Homework in Learning

  • Builds independence and the opportunity to be self-reliant.
  • Encourages students to organise their time and learn to meet deadlines.
  • Interrupts the forgetting curve and so helps students remember key knowledge.
  • Requires students to be more self-aware and take responsibility for their learning.
  • Develops confidence and self-esteem.

How does homework build independence?

Students follow instructions throughout the day and are constantly guided in how to complete tasks. Working from home requires them to reflect on how to address a task; decide on the best way to complete the work and achieve the objective.

How does homework encourage organisation?

In the classroom, students are provided with all of the required resources; timings are set and focus is encouraged. At home, students must provide this for themselves. Whilst homework timetables help to ensure students are able to meet deadlines, they must plan their own schedules to ensure that they are able to submit their work on time. This essential skill will enable our students to become successful in life.

How does homework interrupt the forgetting curve?

Everybody forgets. However, the human brain is amazing in that it can store information permanently. This is evident in our ability to remember nursery rhymes, phone numbers and dates of birth. This is because we repeat this information constantly over a period of time.

Repetition therefore plays an essential role in ensuring knowledge is recorded in our long-term memories. The forgetting curve shows how information that is not repeated at certain intervals will be lost. Whilst timetables are designed to help address this, homework allows students to embed key knowledge in their long-term memories far more effectively.

If we interrupt the forgetting curve, by revising the key knowledge at the points on the graph then our memory returns to 100%. The time lapse between each revisit increases until after 3 months the knowledge is retained fully in our long-term memory. Completing homework allows for this to happen efficiently.

How does homework require students to take responsibility for their learning?

Learning is a very individual process. This is because we each record information on a subject in a slightly different way. As we learn a new topic, we will pay attention to different aspects of the content remembering certain elements over others. When we come to use that knowledge, we will therefore each have different gaps or misconceptions.

Working at home allows students the time to work out where their knowledge gaps are and take responsibility for addressing them. Once they leave school, the ability to evaluate their own development in this way will be invaluable.

How does homework develop confidence and self-esteem?

Confidence and self-esteem are built through feeling successful. Students are very aware that in the classroom they are given scaffolding and support. As we remove that scaffolding, students begin to feel proud of their accomplishments. The more they practice at home by taking responsibility for working out how to manage when they don’t understand a topic, the more confident they will feel when faced with a problem.  Having the self-confidence to problem solve is an essential life skill and one employers actively search for in their employees.

Ultimately, the opportunity to work at home provides students with skills that will allow them to be successful in life. This opportunity cannot be replicated in the classroom and so home learning is a key aspect of development.