Students’ reasons for doing homework

iStock_000008693718XSmallStudents report both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons for doing homework. The reasons middle- and high-school students give for doing homework influences both the frequency with which they complete their homework and the grades they receive.

Jianzhong Xu, Mississippi State University, studied the attitudes and homework behavior of 920 middle- and high-school students. In general, students perceived homework as a way to reinforce school learning as well as to seek adult approval. Most understood that homework was their responsibility and most did their homework for intrinsic reasons.

Intrinsic and extrinsic reasons

Xu sought to determine whether students’ reasons for doing homework influenced homework behavior and achievement. Results revealed a statistically significant relationship between the reasons for doing homework and homework-management strategies.

Intrinsic motivation influenced management strategies more than extrinsic motivation. Students who claimed they did homework for intrinsic reasons were more likely to come to school with their homework completed and to earn higher grades. There was no relationship between extrinsic motivation and homework completion. These results suggest the important role intrinsic motivation has in promoting desirable homework behavior and academic achievement.

Help benefits boys

Xu also examined whether motivation was influenced by gender, grade level and family homework help. For boys in this study, the help they received with homework made a significant difference. When boys received homework help, they were more likely to say they did homework for intrinsic reasons. Parents appeared to influence their sons’ attitudes and behavior related to homework.

One important implication drawn from this study is that middle- and high-school boys need and benefit from family involvement in homework. The study was carried out with students from three rural schools in the South and only 10 percent were from minority backgrounds. Further research is needed to validate the results of this homework survey with students from diverse cultural backgrounds and in urban settings.

“Purposes for Doing Homework Reported by Middle and High School Students,” Journal of Educational Research, Volume 99, Number 1, October 2005, pp. 46-55.

Published in ERN October 2005 Volume 18 Number 8

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