Homework: Its Forms and Functions Revisited
Catholic Education Office
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Homework is seen by many teachers and parents as a useful strategy to promote student learning. However, there are persistent voices claiming that homework is ineffective and should not be used as a teaching and learning strategy. Using data visualisation techniques, the paper introduces a taxonomy of homework. In its examination of current debates about the various forms and functions of homework, this paper draws on the recently completed comprehensive review of the homework literature by the Canadian Council of Learning (2009). A key finding of the Canadian review is that the positive effect of homework on academic performance can be attributed to two interrelated factors: (a) highly developed learning-to-learn skills and (b) intrinsic motivation. In the absence of these personal attributes, homework is unlikely to be successful in fulfilling its desired outcomes. Hence, this paper concludes that investing in the teaching and learning of ‘soft’ skills in formal and informal learning situations is what is most urgently needed.