Technical Appendix


Homework refers to tasks given to pupils by their teachers to be completed outside of usual lessons. Common homework activities in secondary schools are completing tasks assigned in lessons, such as practicing further questions or problems in mathematics, or preparing for tasks in future lessons. It may also include routine course work or revising for tests and examinations. In some models of ‘flipped learning’, pupils prepare at home for classroom discussion and application tasks. It also includes activities such as ‘homework clubs’ where pupils are given the opportunity to complete their assigned tasks in school, usually at the end of the school day.

Search terms: homework, homework clubs, home assignment, home reading, flipped learning.

Evidence Rating

Homework has been extensively studied and is a controversial topic. Studies have mainly looked at the correlation between homework and how well schools or pupils perform. There is a relatively consistent finding that there is a positive association but that this reduces when ability and home background are taken into account. There are a smaller number of studies which have investigated what happens when homework is introduced and comparison is made with classes where homework is not given, where the typical gain is as much as five or six months additional progress for secondary pupils. There are two meta-analyses, one published in the last ten years, and one recent systematic review. The variation in what is assigned as ‘homework’ and how this relates to what happens in school means the variation in reported impact between different studies is always likely to be large. Overall the evidence is rated as limited.

Additional Cost Information

There are few costs associated with homework, though there are implications for staff time for preparation and marking. Some tasks may require additional resources (such as books or materials for pupils to use at home). Overall costs are estimated as very low.


Canadian Council on Learning
A systematic review of literature examining the impact of homework on academic achievement open_in_new
Canadian Council on Learning Learning, Toronto
Cooper, H., Robinson, J.C., Patall, E.A. (Abstract arrow_downward)
Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research 1987-2003 open_in_new
Review of Educational Research, 76. 1 pp. 1-62
Dettmers, S., Trautwein, U., & Ludtke, O.
The relationship between homework time and achievement is not universal: evidence from multilevel analyses in 40 countries open_in_new
School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 20(4), 375-405
Eren, O., & Henderson, D. J.
Are we wasting our children's time by giving them more homework? open_in_new
Economics of Education Review, 30(5), 950-961
Farrow, S., Tymms, P., & Henderson, B.
Homework and attainment in primary schools open_in_new
British Educational Research Journal, 25(3), 323-341
Paschal, R.A., Weinstein, T. & Walberg, H.J. (Abstract arrow_downward)
The effects of homework on learning: A quantitative synthesis open_in_new
The Journal of Educational Research, 78:2, 97-104
Rønning, M.
Who benefits from homework assignments? open_in_new
Economics of Education Review, 30, 55-64.
Trautwein, U., Schnyder, I., Niggli, A., Neumann, M., & Lüdtke, O.
Chameleon effects in homework research: The homework–achievement association depends on the measures used and the level of analysis chosen open_in_new
Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 77-88
Tymms, P. B. and C. T. Fitz-Gibbon
The relationship of homework to A-level results open_in_new
Educational Research, 34(1): 3-19

Summary of effects

Meta-analyses Effect size FSM effect size
Cooper, H., Robinson, J.C., Patall, E.A., (2006)
0.54 - (RCT - secondary homework/ no homework)
0.49 - (Secondary, correlational)
Paschal, R.A., Weinstein, T. & Walberg, H.J., (1984)
0.36 0.15 (Primary and Secdonary)
Weighted mean 0.44  

The right hand column provides detail on the specific outcome measures or, if in brackets, details of the intervention or control group.

Meta-analyses abstracts

Cooper, H., Robinson, J.C., Patall, E.A. (2006)

In this article, research conducted in the US since 1987 on the effects of homework is summarized. Studies are grouped into four research designs. The authors found that all studies, regardless of type, had design flaws. However, both within and across design types, there was generally consistent evidence for a positive influence of homework on achievement. Studies that reported simple homework-achievement correlations revealed evidence that a stronger correlation existed a) in Grades 7-12 than in K-6 and b) when students rather than parents reported time on homework. No strong evidence was found for an association between the homework-achievement link and the outcome measure (grades as opposed to standardized tests) or the subject matter (reading as opposed to math). On the basis of these results and others, the authors suggest future research.

Paschal, R.A., Weinstein, T. & Walberg, H.J. (1984)

This paper synthesizes empirical studies of homework and of various homework strategies on the academic achievement and attitude of elementary and secondary students. A computer search yielded 15 published and un published studies with explicit statistical results. Fifty-four characteristics of treatments, contexts, conditions, validity, and outcomes were coded for each study. About 85% of the effect sizes favored the homework groups. The mean effect size is .36 (probability less than .0001). Homework that was graded or contained teachers' comments produced stronger effects (.80).