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Excessive homework for high-performing high schoolers could be harmful, study finds

Excessive homework for high-performing high schoolers could be harmful, study finds

homeworkToo much homework. (How do you feel after just reading those words?) Researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, Lewis and Clark College and Villanova University conducted a study in high schoolers living in high-income, high-achieving communities and found that spending too much time on homework could have negative effects on students’ health and well-being.

The researchers engaged with 4,317 participants in 10 California high schools through surveys and interviews. Students had an average of 3.1 hours of homework each night. As Stanford News reports, the study cites earlier work that found 90 minutes to two-and-a-half hours of nightly homework to be optimal for high schoolers.

From the Stanford News article:

Their study found that too much homework is associated with:

• Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

• Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.

• Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.

Co-author Denise Pope, PhD, wrote, “The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Education.

Previously: Stanford researchers use yoga to help underserved youth manage stress and gain focusA prescription for reducing medical student stress and Can sleep help prevent sports injuries in teens?
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