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Homework and Student Outcomes
November 2018


What does the research say about the effectiveness of homework on improving student outcomes? How can this research inform homework policies?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


Bas, G., Şenturk, C., & Cigerci, F. M. (2017). Homework and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review of research. Issues in Educational Research 27(1), 31–50. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This meta-analysis sought an answer to the research question: 'What kind of effect does homework assignment have on students’ academic achievement levels? At the end of the research, it was revealed that homework assignments had a small effect size (d = 0.229) on students’ academic achievement levels."

Canadian Council on Learning. (2009). A systematic review of literature examining the impact of homework on academic achievement. Retrieved from

From the Introduction:
"This review addresses the question, 'is there an academic benefit to homework for students enrolled in the K–12 school system?’"

Cheema, J. R., & Sheridan, K. (2015). Time spent on homework, mathematics anxiety and mathematics achievement: Evidence from a US sample. Issues in Educational Research, 25(3), 246–259. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This study investigated the effect of time spent on homework and mathematics anxiety on mathematics achievement. Multiple regression results showed that both maths anxiety and time spent on homework had a significant effect on maths achievement. The implications are discussed."

Kalenkoski, C. M., & Pabilona, S. W. (2015). Does high school homework increase academic achievement? (BLS Working Paper No. 483). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Productivity and Technology. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"We use data from the combined Child Development Supplement (CDS) and the Transition to Adulthood Survey (TA) of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to explore the effects of time spent on homework while attending high school on two measures of academic achievement: high school GPA and college attendance by age 20. We find that homework time has no effect on these measures of academic achievement."

Ramdass, D., & Zimmerman, B. (2011). Developing self-regulation skills: The important role of homework. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22(2), 194–218. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"The article evaluates the relationship between homework and self-regulation from the elementary grades to college. It reveals that quality measures of homework such as managing distractions, self-efficacy and perceived responsibility for learning, setting goals, self-refection, managing time, and setting a place for homework completion are more effective than only measuring the amount of time spent on homework … Evidence from experimental studies shows that students can be trained to develop self-regulation skills during homework activities."

Scott, C. M., & Glaze, N. (2017). Homework policy and student choice: Findings from a Montessori charter school. Journal of Montessori Research, 3(2), 1–18.

From the Abstract:
"In previous years, Ocean Montessori School (a pseudonym), the site of this study, offered homework like that of traditional public schools, such as worksheets and rote skill practice. Feeling conflicted about the misalignment between traditional homework and Montessori practices, the school administration changed the homework policy for the 2016-2017 academic year. The new policy encouraged students to choose what they wanted to do each night for homework. This study examines the views and practices of the teachers, students, and parents involved in the new homework policy. …The findings indicate that, although students enjoyed the proposed homework change, it lacked sufficient structure for parents, and students needed support from teachers and parents to engage in meaningful homework tasks."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Homework AND Research, Effective, Policy OR Policies, "Homework Gap", Rural

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.