Designing homework with equity in mind – for all students’ learning

A systematic review compiles research of the highest relevance and quality, to answer a specific question at a particular point in time. The aim of this project is to gather all research related to homework with the emphasis on equity, to answer the research question:

What are the characteristics of teachers’ homework design, contributing to equity for students’ learning?

The process includes different phases: analysing the need for knowledge, literature search, assessment of relevance and quality, data collection and finally synthesising the results from the studies. The goal is to present review results that are relevant for teachers.

Background

The purpose of homework varies with school subject and age. The aim of homework can be to help students prepare, practice, or repeat something. Another aim is to increase students’ participation or knowledge. But homework can also have the purpose of preparing students’ personal development in taking responsibility for their planning. Homework can also strengthen teacher-parent communication or peer interactions. Sometimes homework is given by teachers to make students finish something they did not have time for during class. Teachers can also give homework simply to please parents.

Perceptions of homework vary between and among students, teachers, and parents. There are numerous studies including systematic reviews that report effect measures of homework on students’ achievements.  The effects of homework differ due to factors such as students’ age, homework purpose or the school subject and character of the homework. Hence homework in mathematics in primary school is not the same as homework in history in upper secondary school.

Apart from the differences in homework design, students’ home conditions and individual circumstances vary, and with them their opportunities to do, and succeed with homework. For example, some students receive help with homework, while others do not. The school has a responsibility to ensure that all children have equal opportunities in education, compensating for the diversity of different student’ home conditions.

Since there are no specific regulations in Sweden regarding homework, it is up to every teacher and school, if and how to use homework in their practice. In this review, we collect studies that focus on homework design, feedback, and follow-up with the aim to describe research homework design that contribute to equity for all students’ learning. The review contains studies from different countries about homework in various school subjects and age groups in primary and secondary school.

Project group

The project team consists of external researchers (specialists in the field) and staff at the Swedish Institute for Educational Research.

External researchers

Jöran Petersson, PhD, Senior lecturer, Malmö University

Max Strandberg, PhD, Senior lecturer, Stockholm University 

From the institute

Alva Appelgren, PhD, Project manager

Pontus Wallin, PhD, Assistant project manager

Lisa Jonsson, Information specialist

Catarina Melin, Project assistant

Contact

Alva Appelgren
Researcher/Project manager