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Studies suggest homework can cause students to stress. Some local school officials have found a way around that.
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When students arrive home from school at the end of the day, they usually want to relax and play. However, most have a couple of hours of homework to complete.
Study: Too much homework may cause students to stress
- By Ashley Rose/[email protected]
- Apr 11, 2018
A study suggests homework is one factor that causes students to stress, but some local school officials have found a way around that.
Not only do students worry about homework, but they also worry about achieving high scores on tests and enrolling into a top college or university, according to the U.S. News and World Report . During the school year, a survey called “Stress in America” from the American Psychological Association suggests teenagers are under more stress than their parents.
“Odds are if you ask a teen what’s got them so worked up, the subject of school will come up,” according to U.S. News . “School can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to other serious problems, like sleep deprivation.”
Teens need about eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but only about 15 percent are getting that amount. During the school week, most teens will get about six hours of sleep a night, according to the U.S. News .
In August 2016, a Godley teacher sent a letter home to parents that said she would not be issuing homework to her students for the school year.
At the time, Godley Elementary School teacher Brandy Young said the decision started with a conversation and a dialogue about what is best for children.
The letter read:
“After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.
“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside and get your child to bed early.”
Young said there were several reasons she chose the policy.
“For my classroom, the age and socioeconomic status of the children were big factors,” Young said in a previous Times-Review article. “Being that I teach younger elementary students, my focus was on what was most beneficial for them. Homework has a place, as long as it’s meaningful, engaging and relevant. The weekly homework packet I have given in the past was not fitting that criteria.”
According to the National Parent-Teacher Association and the National Education Association, students should be doing about 10-20 minutes of homework per night in the first grade and an additional 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level thereafter.
Also in August 2016 Kauffman Leadership Academy, Johnson County’s first and only public charter school, opened.
CEO/Superintendent Theresa Kauffman said they have structured their schedule to provide a longer day at school.
“Each class period is 75 minutes long, and we designed it that way so students will be able to complete homework in class with the teacher’s assistance,” Kauffman said. “So often parents get stressed because they do not remember some of the concepts our students are working on, and that creates tension at home. We want our students to have a life after school with their family.
“We provide instruction, discussion and practice within the class period. We also allow time for long-term projects that might be done at school and home, but they are not homework with the pressure to be complete by the next day.”
They encourage their students to be children and young adults after school without the pressure to always work on homework, she said.
“We encourage them to help in the family or community,” she said. “We want them to have a life. We feel they are better students when they have the break in the evening and weekends.”
For some of their students before they came to KLA, she said homework had been stressful because they forget what they did during the day at school.
“And then there can be tension with parents who are frustrated because they can’t help their student,” she said. “When we share with families that there is no homework at Kauffman Leadership Academy, it is often the parent who is most relieved. It eliminates unnecessary battles with their pre-teen or teenager and allows a healthier relationship to develop and grow. It is a win-win for parent and student.”
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Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework
A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study.
Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative effects on student well-being and behavioral engagement. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)
A Stanford researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.
“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .
The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students’ views on homework.
Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.
Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.
“The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being,” Pope wrote.
Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.
Their study found that too much homework is associated with:
• Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.
• Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.
• Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.
A balancing act
The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.
Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as “pointless” or “mindless” in order to keep their grades up.
“This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points,” Pope said.
She said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.
“Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development,” wrote Pope.
In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone,” they wrote, “which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities.”
The researchers say that while their open-ended or “self-reporting” methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for “typical adolescent complaining” – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.
The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.
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Students Have Too Much Homework, Too Much Stress
Freshman Madison Parola tries to juggle student life with athletics.
Madison Parola , Staff Reporter November 2, 2015
Homework is something that can be necessary and helpful, but it also can be hurtful.
Most classes a student has will usually require homework at some point. Maybe it’s two pages of Spanish homework for each night or two pages of math problems. While individually that might be manageable, what becomes difficult is when that has to be balanced with other homework and one’s commitments to clubs, sports or other out-of-school activities.
A March 2014 article titled “Is too much homework bad for kids’ health? ” by Sandra Levy, published on healthline.com, shows “that more than two hours of homework a night can be counterproductive. Students that complete more than two hours of homework a night experience more academic stress and a lack of balance in their lives.” For example, let’s say a student has a paper for English, an essay for history, a test for chemistry and a test for Spanish they need to study for and finish in the night. If they take an hour for the English homework and an hour for the history essay, they have already done homework for two hours. Students may have an extra two hours of homework to complete, which may lead to negative side effects. Some students find that homework is affecting their own moods as well as their friends. “My friends always tell me about how stressed they are because of all the homework they have. I think the amount of homework teachers are giving is unnecessary,” said Olivia Harbison, freshman. As a freshman A volleyball player with honors biology class, journalism, Spanish 2 and World Studies, I, too, have had difficulty balancing my homework with a sport. On any given day, practices end around 5:30 p.m. By the time I get home, eat and shower, it’s already 8 p.m. If I have a lot of homework that night, I usually don’t finish until around 11 p.m., which gives me around seven hours of sleep. However, I don’t usually go to bed immediately after homework because I must set out items needed for the next day, and I also must make my lunch. Therefore, I usually get less than seven hours a night. It’s even fewer hours if we have a game because games usually go later, which then means my evening routine starts later, my homework gets done later and I go to bed later. According to the article on healthline.com, if a student sacrifices sleep time to study or do homework longer than usual, he or she will have more trouble understanding material in class the next day. Students can’t simply just do academics and nothing else because in high school students are encouraged to be involved. Colleges look at how involved students are in high school along with students’ grades. Therefore, if a student is an athletic person, is college-bound, plays multiple sports while in many higher level classes, the homework and the athletic balance could become a disaster. A March 2014 article titled “Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework” by Clifton B. Parker and published on the website of Stanford University states that a Stanford professor found that homework is associated with greater stress, reductions in health, less time for family and friends and extracurricular activities. Stress is common among high school students, but with the amount of homework students could be receiving, the stress may just be unbearable.
Students could reduce their stress by taking less rigorous classes or by participating in fewer extracurricular activities, but students shouldn’t have to limit their interests and classes to be able to go to sleep at a reasonable time.
With stress there are two types, eustress and distress. According to Health Information and Resources on the website of Brock University located in Ontario, Canada, eustress is “the good stress that motivates you to continue working. ” Distress, which is more common, is when the good stress becomes unbearable.
One way distress can be avoided is by the type of homework teachers give.
Harbison said that if she is having a hard time with the topic she’s learning in class, then the homework practice is useful, but a lot of her homework isn’t really related to the topics she’s having problems with, so she finds it useless.
A May 2015 article titled “Do kids today have too much homework” by Lee Lawrence, published on cs.monitor.com, states that homework can be a cause of distress.
Homework can be just another thing to worry about doing and if it’s been already a stressful day, tons of homework is not what the student is going to want to come home to.
Many teachers expect students to put their full effort into the homework and to take their time on every question or study for hours after school. Living up to this expectation can be emotionally draining for the student.
In reality, too much homework can take too much time, and if this continues, in tons of schools, students may just be stressed and sleep-deprived all the time.
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In with the Good and Out with the Bad: Promoting Healthy Stress in Class
by Matthew Mahavongtrakul | Mar 11, 2019 | 390X
Alicia Hoffman, Department of Chemistry
Stress is correlated with both improved and diminished academic achievement. Students are successful when there is a drive to attain high standards, but too much stress negatively impacts learning and memory and increases underachievement, dropout rates, and depression. 1,2 Therefore, maintaining a balance between too stressful and not stressful enough is important for students to do well in the classroom.
Eustress (good stress) can drive productivity, creativity, and hope. 3 It is linked to academic achievement and investment in coursework. 4 Setting ambitious goals and having high expectations promotes eustress, resulting in a desire to achieve. 1
On the other hand, overemphasizing goals or setting unrealistic expectations introduces distress (bad stress). 1 Distress causes anxiety, lack of investment or interest, and can reduce students’ ability to concentrate. 3,5 The fear of failure is a major source of anxiety for many students, and the fear becomes more apparent as the goals become more unrealistic. 5
Students report several different causes of stress, such as studying, examinations, and fear of failure. 5 While teachers cannot control all of these factors, there are some simple ways to reduce distress and increase eustress in the classroom.
Build a community
Use icebreakers and group work to foster a sense of community in the classroom. A community of supportive peers reduces distress and improves student confidence. 3 The feeling of belonging in an academic community is also linked to a positive academic mindset. 1
Create a routine
Students feel calmer and more in control when the class follows a daily routine. Too much “novelty” can cause students to worry or mentally withdraw. 3 Maintain a few regular activities during the class, such as a break around the same time or a low-stakes review quiz at the beginning or end of every period.
Teach about time management
Time management training positively impacts a student’s sense of control over time, which reduces distress. 2,5 Incorporate time management into projects and assignments. Have students reflect on the steps they need to complete the project and define goals for how to finish these steps. Then have students detail deadlines and strategies to reach their goals. Finally, have them break down these deadlines into daily or weekly tasks so that the entire project feels manageable.
Set achievable goals with positive rewards
Instead of forcing goals on students, set them with your students. Ask students what they want out of the class. Create rubrics as a group so students understand what is expected and feel they have control over these expectations. Provide rewards for exceeding expectations, such as a homework freebie or a few bonus points on an exam.
Let students take ownership
Promote feelings of self-confidence and ownership by allowing students to make decisions. Give students the freedom to choose their own topics or the format of a project. A sense of purpose and ownership over a task motivates students and promotes confidence in their abilities. 1,4
Focus on student improvement
Use formative assessments and check-ins to show students how they have improved over the course. When working on long-term projects, provide feedback at different stages so students have the opportunity to learn – and show they’ve learned – from their mistakes.
Recognizing a few sources of distress and redesigning them into sources of eustress can improve student attitudes and promote academic achievement. Stress doesn’t have to be a bad thing in the classroom, and good stress can help students achieve more.
Dockterman, D.; Weber, C. Does stressing performance goals lead to too much, well, stress? The Phi Delta Kappan 2017 , 98(6), 31-34.
Häfner, A.; Stock, A.; Oberst, V. Decreasing students’ stress through time management training: An intervention study. Euro. J. Psych. Educ. 2015 , 30(1), 81-94.
Sharpe, B. Digging into dissonance: Distress, eustress, and the student experience. 2014
Levi, U.; Einav, M.; Ziv, O.; Raskind, I.; Margalit, M. Academic expectations and actual achievements: The roles of hope and effort. Euro. J. Psych. Educ. 2014 , 29(3), 367-386.
Robotham, D. Stress among higher education students: Towards a research agenda. Higher Educ. 2008 , 56(6), 735-746.
Matthew Mahavongtrakul edited this post on April 24th, 2019.
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When Homework Causes Stress
Homework is an important part of keeping students engaged with the class material outside of school, even though some students may think of it as a waste of time and effort. By doing homework, students are able to think about what was taught in class in further detail and develop a mastery through practical applications of the lessons. Homework brings educational benefits for all students, and it helps establish soft skills like time management and organization that are necessary beyond high school graduation. However, sometimes the extra assignments can lead to stress for the student and the family. As homework piles up, some students may find themselves engaging less and less.
In 2013, research conducted by Stanford University demonstrated that students from high-achieving communities experience stress, physical health problems, an imbalance in their lives, and alienation from society as a result of spending too much time on homework. According to the survey data, 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress. The remaining students viewed tests and the pressure to get good grades as the primary stressors. Notably, less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.
The researchers found that excessive homework means students are not able to meet their developmental needs or cultivate other critical life skills at the same time. In other words, students are more likely to give up extracurricular activities, spend less time with friends and family, and stop pursuing their hobbies. In the survey, the researchers also asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems. The student’s short answer survey results showed that a heavy homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems.
Balancing schoolwork and a healthy lifestyle can be tricky, especially if the student is also working part-time. Spending too much time on homework can lead to not meeting other physical and social needs, like staying active and interacting with peers. Without an opportunity to socialize, relax, and connect with their support systems, students can become increasingly burnt out. It is crucial to make time for extracurricular activities to refresh the student’s mind and body.
Homework realities during COVID-19
This feeling can be even more complicated when students are doing school work at home all day, because the school building is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. After spending hours sitting in front of a screen at home, students log off for the day only to face more schoolwork. Now, educators must evaluate if it’s feasible to ask students to do extra work in the same home environment.
Additionally, we must consider the inherent educational inequities that homework can bring. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained that “kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at after school jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs.”
How can parents help?
While doing the actual work is the student’s responsibility, parents can help their students have a stress-free homework experience. According to Parents.com , parents can help their students in four key ways:
Create a routine
Having a clear and organized homework routine will help your student create and stick to healthy homework habits. Try setting a time to stop working on homework, regardless of how much is left over. It’s important for students to get consistent, high-quality sleep every single night.
Monitor, don’t correct
As mentioned above, homework is ultimately the student’s responsibility. So, parents should only try to make sure their student is on track with completing the assignment and leave it up to the teacher to identify what the student has and has not mastered in class.
Communicate with teachers
However, be sure to communicate homework concerns via phone or email with the teacher. This also helps to show your student that you and their teacher are partnering together as stakeholders in their education.
Lastly, understand that homework stresses are very common and they are likely to arise for you or your student from time to time. If this happens, keep calm and keep going. Sometimes a moment of comfort is all you or your student needs to settle down and get back on track.
While homework is an important part of a student’s education, the benefits of homework can be lost and grades can be affected when students become stressed about how much there is to do. Additionally, valuable time with friends and family can fall by the wayside. As a result, it’s important to come to a happy medium that ensures students understand classroom concepts without becoming overwhelmed. If you or your student is feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated, schedule a visit with the academic counselors at Gateway for advice. Learn more about the full range of student support that Gateway provides here .
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Do you think having too much homework causes stress and depression this quarantine especially to procrastinating type of students? Give your opinion :D
Because it is specified to the students who often procrastinate, it would truly be stressful to them. From the word procrastinating, what the student wants to do is to do things other than school works. They will feel more stress because they might plot thoughts in their heads that could make them feel overwhelmed and stressed. They will think that as they do other activities, more and more things will be left undone and there will be more tasks to do thus increasing the students' stress level.
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Teachers vs. Students: Stress
Naisha Roy , Copy Editor
December 3, 2018
As students file into the school building, chatting with their friends, they all have different thoughts running through their minds. Some of them are excited to start the day and they smile as they enter the doors. Encouraged by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to be with their classmates, these students look forward to the next few hours. However, for other students, this isn’t the case. They approach the building with apprehension about their upcoming test or the worksheet they forgot to do or bring. Their excitement for the school day is slowly being replaced by dread; these are the students who have the path paved for low self-esteem or worse.
With tests, clubs, presentations, and other challenges, it’s no secret that school is one of the most stressful environments for students today. The effect this stress has on students’ minds must be considered
There are two major types of stress: Eustress and Distress. School, with its many facets, can give students both these types of stress. For some, the thrill of learning is positive and challenging in an intriguing way, but for others, the stress of assignments is a boulder on their shoulders. This infographic very clearly illustrates eustress, distress, and their effects on mental health.
The Teachers’ Take
Teachers at South Forsyth seem to agree that stress levels at school are soaring. An interview with Coach Wagner, a health teacher, highlights the different kinds of stress students here encounter.
- A: They have very similar definitions, but with two major differences: Eustress is positive, and beneficial to your health. Distress is negative and harmful to your health.
- A: Distress, definitely. I feel like a lot of people don’t even know that there is a positive form of stress. Distress has become so common, it’s become a conversation starter like “Hey I did so bad on this test” or “This is going to be so hard, I’m going to fail” and things like that. And I think the increased pressure of high grades, school, A.P. classes, that we kind of put on you guys too can definitely cause distress.
- A: I think it has a huge impact! A lot of times, we think that stress and anxiety is a normal part of life, which in a way they are, but there are a lot of ways we can limit that. If we don’t practice stress management techniques, then the stress is going to continue to build and build until it can almost be physically sickening. Stress is going to come and go and be a normal part of life, but if the distress isn’t combated with positive stress management techniques instead of negative coping mechanisms, then it’s going to cause a lot of problems. Some examples are insecurities and depression, especially long-term, drawn-out bouts of depression versus just bad days.
- A: Part of that just takes knowledge and knowing what Eustress is. If they don’t know what it is or how to put themselves into situations where they can create it, it’s never going to happen. They’ve also got to make some life changes. If they have a history of procrastinating and not being attentive in class, then they’ve got to muster up discipline. A positive outlook would help too. Research shows that a positive outlook results in a healthier person and an overall better well-being.
- A: I think teachers just need to be a little bit more realistic. Oftentimes, we treat students like our class is the only one they’re taking, and so we pile on the work. I think that we need to be knowledgeable as well, and stay up-to-date on the research. If the research shows that repetition is helpful in making students learn but homework doesn’t have an impact, then we have to make sure we practice more topics over and over again in class rather than send students home with a lot to do. This causes them to come back to school more stressed and unable to focus in class. We should lighten the workload, but not necessarily make it easy. Students need to be challenged but in a realistic way. We should try to have meaningful activities, instead of assignments just to put grades in.
The following articles also provide two teachers’ first-person accounts as they saw student stress:
The Students’ Side
Thousands of statistics for how stressed out students are can be found by a simple google search. Globe News Wire conducted a stress survey in 2018 with over a thousand teens in the U.S. Almost half of the teens surveyed say they’re stressed “All the time,” which is an indication that something is amiss. The second graph better illustrates WHY the teens are stressed. The reasons vary, but relationships, teachers, and college can be found to be in the top- and all of these are things teens encounter every day in school. An NYU study did extensive research into the world of students stress and they concluded that school work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parental expectations all contribute to teenagers’ stress.
Medha Prasad-Mediratta, a senior at South Forsyth, says that school provides a little more distress for her just because of the homework. However, she says that group projects specifically give her Eustress because of the collaborative feeling.
“Distress can cause me to have a lack of social interaction, anger management issues, and just not being happy,” Prasad-Mediratta explains.
The solutions to this problem range from easily implementable in everyday life to a major mindset change. Coach Wagner gives many examples of how teachers can lower student stress without changing the challenge level. In his Health course, he implements these examples throughout his lessons. Instead of having a test at the end of each unit, he has a wide variety of other summative options. In some units, students may have to explain their topic to the class, present a slideshow, or make a plan illustrating what they’ve learned. These application-based assignments cause less stress because students don’t have to constantly cram for a test, and push the focus on understanding material instead.
Students can also lower their stress by simply being more optimistic. While that sounds easier said than done, once achieved, this mindset greatly lowers anxiety. Treating tests like challenges to do better instead of daunting tasks can make all the difference in performance. This will change the distress and fear into eustress and motivation.
Stress will be an integral part of life, no matter what. However, as students, we sometimes have the opportunity to change that stress into something positive. They can work with teachers to make an environment that is full of anticipation, but for the better. And for all those days where the distress takes over, there are always healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it:
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Studies suggest homework can cause students to stress. Some local school officials have found a way around that. ... When students arrive home
A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress
Some students find that homework is affecting their own moods as well as their friends. “My friends always tell me about how stressed they are because of all
Eustress (good stress) can drive productivity, creativity, and hope. ... It is linked to academic achievement and investment in coursework.
The researchers found that excessive homework means students are not able to meet their developmental needs or cultivate other critical life
Explanation: Because it is specified to the students who often procrastinate, it would truly be stressful to them. From the word procrastinating
There are two major types of stress: Eustress and Distress. School, with its many facets, can give students both these types of stress.
Studies even demonstrate that as stress increases, so too can performance. 3. Explore Distress and Eustress. There are two main types of stress:
A new study finds that when students experience an academic setback such as a bad grade, the amount of cortisol—the so-called stress
We explore the little-mentioned concept of eustress (good stress) as a counter to the more familiar concept of distress. We further consider