The perspectives of pupils, parents and teachers, in a secondary school, regarding the role of homework

Baker, Richard, Ph.D.

June 2007

Thesis or dissertation

© 2007 Richard Baker. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Homework has long been a subject of discussion. This research reflects upon previous research in this area and endeavours to clarify some of the more significant issues surrounding homework. Using a case study based upon Cromer High School in Norfolk, five cohorts of pupils and their parents were surveyed about their attitudes towards homework, and the practicalities of how they complete it on a day to day basis. The teachers in the school were surveyed separately. The GCSE results of all five cohorts, and their value-added scores were provided through the Vellis project at the University of Durham. Two groups of pupils were identified; one group who had achieved far better GCSE grades than might have been expected, and a second group who underachieved at GCSE. Both groups were then compared with the whole pupils' cohort in relation to their data about homework.

The main findings are that:

1. There is evidence that homework helps to produce better results at GCSE.
2. Pupils expressed a view that greater clarity of purpose in setting homework would be welcomed.
3. Homework is perceived by the majority of pupils of all ages as easy and lacking in challenge.
4. A majority of pupils values the recognition of good work through the Merit Mark scheme.
5. There is a wide variation in the amount of time pupils report spending on homework. A great number of pupils report spending less time on homework than the school policies indicate.
6. The Pupil Planner is shown to be a successful tool appreciated by many.
7. The use of work space appropriate for homework and the availability of useful resources both indicate a wide variation.
8. Parents request advice on how to support and encourage pupils with homework tasks.
9. A number of teachers are unaware of the school's and/or their department's Homework Policy.
10. Responses of pupils and teachers indicated that there is a discrepancy in how feedback is viewed and understood.

The conclusions indicate that there is evidence that homework has a beneficial effect upon student attainment as identified in terms of a value added approach. There are, however, still many issues relating to homework which the evidence gathered in this study suggests needs further exploration, discussion and agreement between pupils, parents and teachers.

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
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