restricted access Meanings of Homework and Implications for Practice

Many of the discussions in both the popular and academic press assume that the key participants and stakeholders have the same understandings about homework and its meanings. However, this is not necessarily the case. For example, in the widely reported tension and conflict in families about homework completion, one contributing factor may be the meanings students, parents, and educators ascribe to homework and the purposes it fulfills. This article examines how research has considered these varying meanings and perceptions and how they may impact student attitudes and behaviors toward homework. The article argues that the positive outcomes of homework frequently cited by parents (such as motivational, academic, and life skills benefits) are less recognized by children, especially elementary students. In most cases, the mismatch is likely to be between the student focus on proximal costs of homework and the adult focus on long-term benefits. The implications of these understanding for practitioners is then discussed.