Spanish researchers think they’ve found the optimal amount of daily math and science homework time for adolescents: just about one hour.
A team at the University of Oviedo in Spain asked a group of 7,725 public, state-funded, and private-school students how often they did homework, how much effort they spent on various subjects, and how frequently they received help from others. Students were then evaluated with a standardized math and science test.
The report — which appeared in in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Educational Psychology earlier this month — found that 60 to 70 minutes is the sweet spot for daily math and science homework for most students. Students who spent about an hour studying scored the highest on the test afterward.
After 100 minutes, their scores started to decline.
According to Javier Suarez-Alvarez, the co-lead researcher on the study, regular homework assignments and minimal parental involvement accounted for the highest test scores. The most effective students had strong independent work habits and were able to engage in "self-regulated learning."
Still, there are some caveats to the study: because students were only tested once, the study proves correlation but not necessarily causation. The survey also didn’t differentiate between math and science results.
Suarez-Alvarez said the study results raise questions about how "academic intelligence, self-concept, and self-esteem" influence performance, too.
"The conclusion is that when it comes to homework, how is more important than how much," Suarez-Alvarez said. "Once individual effort and autonomous working is considered, the time spent becomes irrelevant."