In teaching practice, homework is widely accepted as a form of educational activity whose primary purpose is to help learners improve their academic performance. However, scholars have undertaken to determine whether homework produces the perceived benefits for students, often with mixed results. The purpose of this is to critique an article on this subject and examine how the topic has been approached and what the outcomes insinuate. The selected article is titled No assignment: a boon or a bane? by Cordova, Pagtulon-an, and Tan (2019, p. 144). The scholars have set out to examine the effects of having and not having assignments on weekends on the academic performance of the students.
A brief background to the topic of homework has been presented, where the scholars express that homework as an educational practice has existed since the early 20th century. Similarly, the debate on whether the practice is or is not a healthy policy for learners has lasted as long, which means that neither research nor practice seems to agree on one position. The argument is that research through the years has shown homework to have both positive and negative implications. The literature used to support the study has defined homework and presented several views on the subject. In this case, homework comprises the work assigned to students to perform during non-school hours. The views on homework include three perspectives: teachers, students, and parents, each representing a key stakeholder pedagogic domain. The educators perceive homework as an important and necessary extension of daily instructions. Parents expect their children to get homework, while students perceive it as an inconvenience to their otherwise busy lives.
The research was in the form of a case study conducted at a university laboratory high school in the Philippines. The experiment comprised 115 grade 11 senior high school students, 58 of whom were selected from the brightest group in the class and the rest from the second section. The first group was not given assignments and acted as a control group. The second group was given homework and the academic scores were recorded. The findings indicated that the control group scored higher than the experiment group, which means that homework was found to have no effect on improved learning outcomes.
As an academic paper, this article has explored the available literature on the subject of homework to present the current understanding of the subject. Recent studies have been incorporated to form the background of what Cordova, Pagtulon-an, and Tan (2019, p. 144) seek to accomplish. However, it can be argued that Cordova, Pagtulon-an, and Tan (2019, p. 144) have included outdated literature comprising studies conducted in the late 1980s. Such studies have been mixed with those conducted as recently as 2018, about a year before the research was conducted. Examples include research conducted by Pfeiffer (2018, p. 1), a case study on a public school in Western Cape Province, which indicated that having no homework produced more positive effects on students. Overall, much of the literature used is valid in supporting the researcher’s study.
The methodology chapter of the article is brief and leaves out lots of details, including the approach, design, and sampling techniques used. Therefore, only a few elements can be inferred from the brief description. For example, the nature of the study reveals that a quantitative approach has been used as illustrated by the numerical data and the analysis tools used. Additionally, the arrangements made with the two groups of students where one was tested and the not tested implied an experimental design, which comprises a control group and an experiment group. However, the overall methodological approach suits the purpose of the study even without the details.
The research findings have been tabulated and a description offered. Descriptive statistics are used to analyze the scores for both control and experiment groups, where the mean scores were 86.3966 and 91.1930 respectively in a weekend assignment (Cordova, Pagtulon-an, and Tan, 2019). A similar trend was observed with the midterm exam, which helped the researchers conclude that homework was not positively correlated with academic performance. It can be argued that the findings are not robust enough since they only highlight the causal relationship between homework and academic performance. However, the implications of the research remain valid, considering that they add to the literature on the role of homework in students’ academic performance. As an experimental study, the findings do not reflect the root causes of the issue, which means that the study has only managed to establish a connection between variables. The nature of the relationship cannot be discerned using either the methods of the data collected.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The research article has both strengths and weaknesses, mostly regarding the methodological approaches adopted. The first strength is that the researchers have managed to establish the link between homework and academic performance. Considering that the major rationalization of homework is that it helps learners perform better, the study negates this perception and reveals this position not to be true. Another strength is that it uses a quantitative approach, which is better for generalization. Overall, the methodological approaches used are both valid and easy to replicate.
In terms of weaknesses, can be argued that the sample used is not large enough to allow for adequate generalization. The rationale is that a sample size of 57 students for the experimental group was inadequate, especially considering that all participants come from the same school. A larger sample and study replicated across multiple schools would have been better. Another weakness is a bias in the classification of the control and experimental group. In essence, including all the bright students in the control group cannot be justified considering that such a group could easily perform better even without extra work.
Ethical issues have not been addressed in the research, which raises the question of how research ethics and guidelines were deployed. As a primary study, the scholars engaged human subjects, which means that they could be exposed to some form of harm. It would be expected that such research should address all ethical issues or explain how the scholars intended to be ethical. Privacy, anonymity, informed consent, and beneficence are among the ethical challenges the study should have explained.
While there is nothing wrong with the methodological approaches used, it is argued that there are alternatives that could have been used. in this case, qualitative methods for a case study sound more appropriate considering that causal relationships between homework and academic performance have been extensively explored. As a result, the underlying factors of these relationships should have been explored, or, at least, the researchers should have explained why homework does not contribute to higher performance. Qualitative exploratory research assesses all issues affecting academic grades and homework. Alternatively, the design sampling approaches could have been different to help improve the quality of the findings. For example, a cross-sectional design could have involved larger samples studied at a single point in time, which helps with generalizability. Similarly, a longitudinal design could replace the case study where the relationships are monitored for a longer period.
Value for Practitioners
The main question that needs to be answered here is what value practitioners can gain from considering this research. the argument made is that practitioners have a responsibility to decide whether or not to give homework and how much homework students should get within a given period. In this case, considering the findings of the study helps practitioners understand the true value of homework and decide on the necessary policy. If the findings are accepted, the practitioners should find no use for homework since it makes less sense.
Implications for Proposed Research
The proposed research seeks to examine a no homework policy in primary schools in Abu Dhabi. The research critiqued has examined the same issue with the case study targeting a different population from a different geographic location. Therefore, the proposed research can use the basic ideas and approaches in the critiqued study in addressing the same question. The implications for the proposed research include the direction taken, the method and approaches, and even the nature of the entire research. in essence, the researcher can decide to replicate the findings and support the theoretical foundation of the relationship between homework and academic performance. Alternatively, the proposed research can accept the finding and embark on searching for explanations of the causal relationship between the variables. In terms of methodology, qualitative or mixed methods can be used to test whether the same outcome can be obtained. Overall, the critiqued research helps form the basis for the proposed study.
The article No assignment: a boon or a bane? helps answer the question of the usefulness of homework for students. The findings indicate that this practice does not help students improve their grades. the critique of the article has focused on several areas, including the literature, methods, and findings. Overall, it can be argued that the study lays the foundation for future work by offering a definitive answer to the question of whether homework improved academic performance.
Cordova, C., Pagtulon-an, E. and Tan, D. (2019) ‘No assignment: a boon or a bane?’, International Journal of English and Education, 8(1), pp. 144-160.
Pfeiffer, V. (2018) ‘Homework policy review: a case study of a public school in the Western Cape Province’, South African Journal of Education, 38(1), pp. 1-10.