Students in Qatar said they are spending nearly an extra hour each week doing their homework compared to three years ago, according to a new government report.
But they’re unlikely to be getting much sympathy from their parents and teachers, many of whom believe students are exaggerating.
Each year, officials in Qatar survey educators, students and parents on a wide range of school-related topics, including the amount of homework that’s being assigned.
In the 2014-15 report, recently released by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, students said they spend an average of six hours and 42 minutes each week studying outside of class. That’s up from five hours and 48 minutes in 2011-12.
Responses varied by age and school type.
For example, students in international schools said they do more than 10 hours of homework each week, while those enrolled in independent (state-run) schools say they do less than six hours.
A common thread, however, is that students across the country said they’re working harder than their parents believe.
Parents surveyed said their children are only doing two hours and six minutes of homework a week. That’s about 12 minutes more than in 2011-12.
Teachers said the number is even lower, and have said they only assign, on average, one hour and 12 minutes of homework a week.
That answer has remained consistent over the years.
How much is too much?
Parents and educators around the world often disagree on how much homework students should receive at different ages and debate whether the assignments actually lead to better educational outcomes.
Last year, a New York primary school made headlines when it reportedly eliminated all homework assignments because work outside of the classroom was contributing to children’s “frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning,” the principal was quoted as saying.
In the UK, a 14-year study on the connection between homework and academic achievement found that homework had value for older children but had little positive impact on younger students.
“At primary level there is no conclusive evidence that homework boosts achievement,” Caroline Sharp of the National Foundation for Educational Research was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
It suggested students start receiving 10 to 20 minutes of homework per night – or 50 minutes to more than 1.5 hours a week – in the first grade, and be assigned an additional 10 minutes of work each year.
Qatar’s figures don’t break down homework levels by grade level.
As a whole, however, the amount of homework received by the country’s primary school students roughly falls within this standard, according to parents, but is excessive from the student’s perspective.
Parents of primary school children said their kids do an average of two hours and 12 minutes of homework a week. Primary students themselves say it’s in excess of seven hours a week.
The wide-ranging survey covers dozens of topics. Other findings included:
- Despite the country’s rapidly growing population, class sizes have stayed the same in recent years: On average, there were 11.1 students for each teacher in Qatar, the same as last year. The ratio is lowest in independent schools (8.3 students per teacher) and highest in private Arabic schools (17.9 students per teacher).
- The cost of education keeps going up: The average household spent QR12,691 on educational expenses in 2013-14, up from QR11,246 the previous year.
- Teachers are getting older: In a dramatic reversal from past years, the average age for classroom educators in 2013-14 was 37.1 years old, up from 29.8 years old the previous year; and
- Most parents are happy with schools in Qatar: On average, 83 percent of parents say they’re satisfied with the education provided by their children’s school. Only 5 percent say they’re dissatisfied.
How much homework do you or your children do each week? Thoughts?