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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Adamsky - MRH Faculty

Student Burnout and Workload: How Much Work is too Much?

by Jacob N.


Whether it be homework or classwork, writing or math, there is no school without these

scholarly activities. There is no doubt that practice makes perfect, but does too much practice

cause more damage than it’s worth? According to NEA Today, It is good to follow a ten-minute per grade level strategy in which ten minutes are compounded according to the grade level of the student. A student in ninth grade for example would have about ninety minutes of homework a night. Granted, no student is the same, while one given assignment may seem extremely difficult to one student, the same assignment may prove rather difficult to another.


The problem with studying too much is the problem of diminishing returns. Essentially, if

someone exceeds their limit you risk doing more damage than it is actually worth. According to a study analysis by Harris Cooper Published in The New York Times, there are noticeable

negative effects of excessive studying. While this does not discount the obvious educational

benefits of studying, it does however show that in excess, it is not a good decision.

In order to get a better picture of this, The Range went directly to the people affected by

homework. A variety of different students were asked questions about workload, burnout, and

how much free time they had:


“I get overwhelmed and procrastinate too much and it's a bad recipe.” stated Senior

Conlin W. When asked about how it affects his ability to explore personal interests he stated, “I could definitely be doing other stuff more.” Conlin estimates that he has 1-2 hours of daily

homework.


On the other side of the spectrum, estimating a few minutes a day, sophomore Neveah

L. said “I don’t really have that much homework personally… it's more school work that I haven't finished rather than randomly assigned homework.”


Senior Ryan T. estimates that he has 3-4 hours of homework a day. When asked if he

has too much homework he said, “I would say not really, but it depends on the due date, like if

something is due tomorrow then that would be a lot. Homework does sometimes take up

personal time.”


A common theme was that of incomplete classwork being assigned as homework,

which potentially blurs the line between over-assignment and lack of initiative.


It's difficult to gain a well-rounded perspective on this topic without talking to the people

who assign the homework: Teachers. Several teachers were asked similar questions regarding their stance on homework and how much is acceptable.


“I think homework is a necessity in math class. It needs to be done to learn. Math is not a

spectator sport.” Stated math teacher Jenna Graver. ``Two to three thirty-minute assignments a week is a good amount, as you get into more advanced classes it’s good to assign more.”

Math teacher, Mrs. Johnson added, “The first time you try a problem on your own, it should not be on the test…I wish we had more time to practice in class, it's just that as you get

into the upper-level math classes you just don’t have that kind of time, if we had time to do it in class, we wouldn't need to assign homework.”


Science teacher Jacob Germanoski’s stance is: “I think it depends on the student and

the class. If a student knows that they need extra practice then they should be doing extra work. Whereas for some kids it can be very redundant and a waste of their time. I don't think there is a complete ‘good or bad’ argument for homework.”


Teachers generally share a similar sentiment on homework in that they would rather not

assign it. Often limitations on time however seem to make this a necessity. The goal of a

successful year along with the limits of periods that are under an hour unfortunately do not mix. Those who do choose to assign homework do so out of either preparation or a lack of

completion in class.


A middle ground is important in this situation. Often students feel overworked while

others are not, and teachers often assign homework out of necessity rather than greed or

laziness. Both personal student strategies and teacher limit methods are excellent in finding this middle ground


A large part of this is the issue of procrastination. It is often difficult to just get up and

“Do” the work as is often suggested. To minimize procrastination, splitting the amount of

homework assigned between several days is a great option. This is certainly easier said than

done, especially considering this whole article was submitted late. There are resources and

actions that can be taken to help with this. This list compiled by Boise State University for

example is an excellent resource. Simply looking up “how to stop procrastinating” is a great

start.


For teachers, using the previously mentioned ten minute model is a great reference point

when combined with the interests of the class. An AP class is going to have a need for more

homework while a base class might use less.


Unfortunately there is no simple answer to “Are students being assigned too much

homework?” It simply varies from student to student. As great as an easy answer would be,

multiple factors contribute to how much work is acceptable. Practice at anything will obviously

make you better at a given skill. Sometimes limited time in class makes this practice a necessity.

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