Depending on which argument you wish to make, there is research to back up either the “for” or “against” homework positions. The problem is, there will generally be a weak correlation between performance and completion of homework. This happens, especially in mathematics, because the extremely mathematically-inclined and motivated do their homework and do well on tests. The extremely mathematically-inclined and not so motivated don’t do their homework bust still do well on the tests. The not so mathematically-inclined and highly motivated work really hard on their homework and have limited success. The not so mathematically-inclined and not so motivated don’t do their homework and have limited success, too. The average students, however, can make the difference. If the average students do their homework, they will generally find success and if they don’t do their homework, they will generally not do so well. Thus, the dilemma is that the ends cancel each other out and the middle population of students determines if the homework helped a particular group of students learn. In the words of students (as overheard in classrooms and halls): “I did all of my homework and got an A.” “I did all of my homework and still failed the test.” “I didn’t study at all and I passed.” “I studied my ass off and still failed.” “The test was just like the homework problems.” I did all of the homework problems and the test was nothing like it.” Etcetera.
The solution for the educational community is to use homework as it was meant to be used: homework is an opportunity for students to learn and/or to inform themselves on their understanding of the material. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In other words, assign homework and if the student needs to and chooses to do the assignment, then he/she will have a higher probability of learning the material.