Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?

It's mostly good, especially for the sciences, but it also can be bad

Mother and son working on science homework at a table

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Homework isn't fun for students to do or for teachers to grade, so why do it? Here are some reasons why homework is good and why it's bad.

Why Homework Is Good

Here are 10 reasons why homework is good, especially for the sciences, such as chemistry:

  1. Doing homework teaches you how to learn on your own and work independently. You'll learn how to use resources such as texts, libraries, and the internet. No matter how well you thought you understood the material in class, there will be times when you'll get stuck doing homework. When you face the challenge, you learn how to get help, how to deal with frustration, and how to persevere.
  2. Homework helps you learn beyond the scope of the class. Example problems from teachers and textbooks show you how to do an assignment. The acid test is seeing whether you truly understand the material and can do the work on your own. In science classes, homework problems are critically important. You see concepts in a whole new light, so you'll know how equations work in general, not just how they work for a particular example. In chemistry, physics, and math, homework is truly important and not just busywork.
  3. It shows you what the teacher thinks is important to learn, so you'll have a better idea of what to expect on a quiz or test.
  4. It's often a significant part of your grade. If you don't do it, it could cost you, no matter how well you do on exams.
  5. Homework is a good opportunity to connect parents, classmates, and siblings with your education. The better your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in class.
  6. Homework, however tedious it might be, teaches responsibility and accountability. For some classes, homework is an essential part of learning the subject matter.
  7. Homework nips procrastination in the bud. One reason teachers give homework and attach a big part of your grade to it is to motivate you to keep up. If you fall behind, you could fail.
  8. How will you get all your work done before class? Homework teaches you time management and how to prioritize tasks.
  9. Homework reinforces the concepts taught in class. The more you work with them, the more likely you are to learn them. 
  10. Homework can help boost self-esteem. Or, if it's not going well, it helps you identify problems before they get out of control.

Sometimes Homework Is Bad

So, homework is good because it can boost your grades, help you learn the material, and prepare you for tests. It's not always beneficial, however. Sometimes homework hurts more than it helps. Here are five ways homework can be bad:

  1. You need a break from a subject so you don't burn out or lose interest. Taking a break helps you learn.
  2. Too much homework can lead to copying and cheating.
  3. Homework that is pointless busywork can lead to a negative impression of a subject (not to mention a teacher).
  4. It takes time away from families, friends, jobs, and other ways to spend your time.
  5. Homework can hurt your grades. It forces you to make time management decisions, sometimes putting you in a no-win situation. Do you take the time to do the homework or spend it studying concepts or doing work for another subject? If you don't have the time for the homework, you could hurt your grades even if you ace the tests and understand the subject.