The summary below presents the research evidence on homework in secondary schools in the Australasian context.
The Teaching & Learning Toolkit focuses on impact; it presents an estimate of the average impact of homework in secondary schools on learning progress, based on the synthesis of a large number of quantitative studies from around the world.
This page offers a summary and analysis of individual Australasian studies on homework in secondary schools. In contrast to the Toolkit it includes studies which do not estimate impact, but instead investigate the implementation of interventions and how they are perceived by school leaders, teachers and students. This information is valuable for school leaders and teachers interested in finding out more about particular examples of secondary homework interventions that have been delivered in Australia and New Zealand.
Melbourne Graduate School of Education generated this summary and it is current for June 2016.
Summary of Australasian Research
There remains a dearth of research on the impact of homework on secondary students’ learning and academic outcomes specifically in an Australian or New Zealand context. Publications by Australian-based authors have examined the effect of home homework on student achievement globally, based on global studies (Hattie, 2008; Horsley & Walker, 2013). Nevertheless, the findings are broadly applicable and help inform the determination of impact for homework as a teaching and learning intervention.
Hattie (2009) synthesised five meta-analyses (161 combined studies on homework) that examined the impact of primary and secondary homework on student achievement. Sixty-five percent of studies found positive effects, while 35 percent had no effect. Overall, the effect size for homework across primary and secondary was 0.29 but not significant.
In their book, Horsley and Walker (2013) included a systematic review of global studies on effective homework practices, most of which are American. They concluded that homework has a positive but minor effect on student achievement overall. There is no support for positive outcomes for students in the early years of primary school and very weak support for students in the higher grades of primary school (citing Cooper, 1989, ES=0.15). As students grow older, homework has a growing effect on achievement outcomes (ES=0.31 for the early years of high school, and moderately high benefits [ES=0.64] for students in upper high school). Homework in science and social studies had the highest effects while maths had the lowest. The authors also discussed motivation as a contributing factor in engaging students in homework activities. Student self-concept and beliefs around competence can also affect student effort in relation to homework. They highlight that homework activities need to be matched with individual levels of engagement and understanding.
This review excludes articles based in an Australasian context already cited in the current version of the Toolkit.
Cooper, H. (1989). Homework versus no-treatment. Longman.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London; New York: Routledge.
Horsley, M., & Walker, R. (2013). Reforming homework: practices, learning and policy. South Yarra, VIC: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Secondary: Homework Secondary or High School; homework and achievement; Australia; New Zealand.