How much time should students spend doing homework?

When a teenager arrives home from school in the afternoon, the last thing he or she wants to worry about is homework. After all, there’s TV to be watched, friends to hang out with and maybe even a job to fulfill.

However, recent research from the University of Oviedo in Spain indicates homework needn’t take up an entire night. In fact, researchers found the perfect amount of time per day for homework was just one hour.

The study, which looked at more than 7,000 students living in Spain approximately 13 years old, found a positive correlation between the amount of homework a student completed and the level of the child’s understanding — and that optimal level was achieved in one hour.

But don’t get too excited too quickly.

Researchers say such results aren’t fully conclusive. The authors note that though they found a correlation between an hour of studying and the optimal level of learning, it doesn’t necessarily translate to better test results.

As a matter of fact, a variety of other studies indicate otherwise.

According to a 2012 article published in The Guardian, a study from the Department for Education in the UK found that children who put in two to three hours a night of homework were more likely to get better grades in school.

The study found that one of the main determinants of a student’s attitude toward homework came from the influence of the school. When students were expected to do thorough homework, they were likely to spend more time completing it.

“That’s one of the reasons Indian and Chinese children do better,” said Pam Sammons, an education professor at Oxford University. “They tend to put more time in. It’s to do with your effort as well as your ability.”

Sammons noted that homework doesn’t need to occupy an entire night, but there are benefits to spending a few extra minutes on assignments.

“What we’re not saying is that everyone should do large amounts,” said Sammons. “But if we could shift some of those who spend no time or half an hour into doing one to two hours.”

And perhaps you’ve heard the popular saying of “10 minutes per night per grade” coined by researcher Harris Cooper. Cooper recommends 10-20 minutes of homework per night beginning in first grade, then an additional 10 minutes added for each grade level after that.

But even though there may not be a one-size-fits-all recommendation, it is possible that too much studying can be detrimental. Just last year, research from Stanford University reported that high school students’ grades were negatively affected when they spent too much time with homework.“Any student who is doing more than three and a half hours of homework a night is actually at risk for higher stress levels and poor mental and physical health,” said Denise Pope, a senior lecturer in Stanford’s School of Education who participated in the study.

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