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Citation:Xu, J. (2004). Family help and homework management in urban and rural secondary schools. Teachers College Record, 106(9). 1786-1803.

The purpose of this study is to examine how developmental levels and home conditions affect homework habits in secondary school students. A brief review of recent studies related to family involvement and good homework habits is included. Results indicated that when students have someone at home to help them with their homework they performed better than students without home help at five features of homework management: arranging environment, managing time, focusing attention, monitoring motivation, and monitoring and controlling emotion. A homework questionnaire was completed by 121 urban middle school students of diverse race. In a second study, 920 primarily Caucasian middle and high school students completed the same homework questionnaire. Education level of the home helper was not related to homework management. No reliable differences were found across grade levels within middle and high school. However, high school students as a group reported expending less effort on focusing attention and made fewer attempts at monitoring motivation than middle school students. This study suggests that parents from diverse educational backgrounds and socioeconomic levels can help adolescents learn good homework habits; however, distraction and emerging difficulties in high school may outweigh these benefits. Further research, including randomized controlled trials, needs to be conducted in order to identify which types of family involvement most benefit each of the homework management strategies.

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