NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education
Found In: teaching strategies
Some researchers are urging schools to take a fresh look at homework and its potential for engaging students and improving student performance. The key, they say, is to take into account grade-specific and developmental factors when determining the amount and kind of homework.
So, what's appropriate? What benefits can be expected? What makes for good homework policies? Research doesn't have all the answers, but a review of some existing data yields some helpful observations and guidance.
How Much Homework Do Students Do?
Survey data and anecdotal evidence show that some students spend hours nightly doing homework. Homework overload is the exception rather than the norm; however, according to research from the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation (see the Brown Center 2003 below). Their researchers analyzed data from a variety of sources and concluded that the majority of U.S. students spend less than an hour a day on homework, regardless of grade level, and this has held true for most of the past 50 years. In the last 20 years, homework has increased only in the lower grade levels, and this increase is associated with neutral (and sometimes negative) effects on student achievement.
How Much Is Appropriate?
The National PTA recommendations fall in line with general guidelines suggested by researcher Harris Cooper: 10-20 minutes per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter (e.g., 20 minutes for second grade, 120 minutes for twelfth). High school students may sometimes do more, depending on what classes they take (see Review of Educational Research, 2006).
What are the benefits?
Homework usually falls into one of three categories: practice, preparation, or extension. The purpose usually varies by grade. Individualized assignments that tap into students' existing skills or interests can be motivating. At the elementary school level, homework can help students develop study skills and habits and can keep families informed about their child's learning. At the secondary school level, student homework is associated with greater academic achievement. (Review of Educational Research, 2006)
What’s good policy?
Experts advise schools or districts to include teachers, parents, and students in any effort to set homework policies. Policies should address the purposes of homework; amount and frequency; school and teacher responsibilities; student responsibilities; and, the role of parents or others who assist students with homework.
- A Nation At Rest: The American Way of Homework ( PDF, 439 KB, 19 pgs.)
Summary and comments from authors) - Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(3) (2003, Fall). Gill, B. P., & Schlossman, S. L.
- Helping Your Child with Homework ( PDF, 378 KB, 25 pgs.)
U.S. Department of Education. (2002). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
- Research Spotlight on Best Practices in Education
A list of NEA Spotlights on best practices.
- NEA Reports & Statistics
Research reports reviewing data on educational issues and policy papers concerning NEA members, educators, and the public school community.
Whether you’re a sophomore in high school or a senior in college, your life is full of attending classes, working on homework, extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, and squeezing in family time when you can. We all have so much going on and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when.
Confession: I am a planner and organization junkie. I carry my LifePlanner with me everywhere, along with a bag of pens–for color coding. I also keep an electronic version, thanks to Google Calendar, and it’s so full it looks like confetti exploded on my phone/laptop screen. I’m telling you this because I understand how important finding the right planner is. Hours of research went into my first big planner purchase, and my guess is (if you’re reading this post) you’re a bit like me.
So, without further ado, here’s my list of the 7 best planners for students:
LifePlanner by Erin Condren
Price: $45-$65 + add-ons
The LifePlanner was my first mega planner purchase and I love it. If everything in your life is organized by color, this is the planner for you. In addition to interchangeable, customizable covers, you can also add on stickers of all shapes and sizes. Mine also came with a sample pack of stickers and a movable ruler/bookmark. You can also find stickers on Etsy that are the same size and shape of the boxes in the LifePlanner.
It comes in three different layouts: horizontal, vertical, and hourly. Each weekly page also has space for a to-do list, which always comes in handy.
Student Planner by Plum Paper
Price: $18 + add-ons
Plum Paper’s Student Planner would be excellent for any high school student or college student with a heavy course load. Each week is organized by day and class period (7 spaces available).
The nice thing about this planner is you can customize it to start at any month during the year. So, if you’re not satisfied with a previous planner purchase or you procrastinated and don’t want to spend money on missed months, go with this planner. It comes in 6 months or 12-18 months. So, you can also give it a 6 month trial run if you’re still not sold.
Academic Daily Simplified Planner by Emily Ley
Price: $58 + add-ons
Emily Ley’s Academic Daily Simplified Planner is full of inspiration quotes and gold detailing. (And we all need a little inspiration to keep going sometimes!) These planners are made for academic schedules (i.e., they run August-July). In addition to 6am-9pm hourly spots, there are also spaces for notes, daily to-dos, and dinner plans.
The design of these planners are classy-chic. One of my college friends swears by this planner. She just purchased her second one and doesn’t plan on changing it up any time soon.
Flagship Collection by Day Designer
Price: $59 + add-ons
If you’re all business and don’t feel the need to decorate every square inch of your planner, the Flagship Collection is for you. These daily pages run from 5am-9pm. Each day has a space for to-dos, gratitude, your top 3 to-dos, notes, and more. The Flagship collection is available in beginning and mid-year editions, each running 12 months.
If you’re feeling the need for a bit more organization in your life, there are also a plethora of free printables available. These include bucket lists, notes, organizing your week, gratitude journals, food and exercise logs, and much more.
Academic Daily Planner by Bloom Daily Planners
Price: $13.95-$26.95 + add-ons
The Academic Daily Planner comes in hard or soft cover, and a choice between a normal academic planner or a vision planner. The vision planner is organized to help you set and work towards your goals. The academic year planner also has spaces for your goals, to-dos, and a fun list of reasons for a party.
It also has an awesome academic scheduler placed in the beginning pages. There are places for time, class, professor name, and room, all by day of the week and term.
The Happy Planner-Student Edition by Me & My Big Ideas
Price: $19.99-$29.99 + add-ons
The Happy Planner is the creative student’s dream planner. You literally make it all you want it to be, and can add or remove pages at any time. It’s basically a scrapbook that functions as a planner.
One of my favorite things about this planner is you can actually go to a store and check it out. It’s also 100% customizable. You can add pages, bookmarks, inspirational quotes on tabs, and even clip in pictures. If you want to check it out in person, head to your local Hobby Lobby store.
Academic Planners by Mead
During my first few years of college I relied on my Mead planners to keep my life organized. I started with the small, 4″ x 6″ size, and ended up with the giant 8.5″ x 11″. These are great planners because you can choose daily, weekly, or monthly layouts. They’re also extremely affordable.
Yes, these planners are a bit more subtle than some of the others listed above. However, if you’re feeling the need to spice it up a bit, you essentially have a blank slate that you can make entirely your own. Head to a craft store, buy some stickers and fun pens, and spend an afternoon decorating your new best friend.
Planners are as unique as the people who use them. Each one is loved and used in its own way. If you have a favorite that isn’t on this list, share it in the comments below!
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite planner accessories:
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