a better teacher/student? Focus on the question/issues addressed and the findings as you relate these issues to practical use.
Chuansheng’s and Stevenson’s (1989) research paper titled “Homework: A Cross-Cultural Examination” explored the cross-cultural differences in homework among grade-schoolers, especially those in the first and fifth grades. The researchers investigated how cultural differences, beliefs and attitudes among Chinese, Americans and Japanese influenced academic success. The research methods used in the research included reading and math questionnaires, as well as, interviews of parents, teachers, and children. Even when Chinese learners were given extra homework over time, as compared to the other groups of American and Japanese children, they have more positive attitude towards homework. However, “none of the cultures” showed that there is a “consistently significant relation between homework and academic achievement” (Chuansheng & Stevenson, 1989, p. 560).
B. Questions to keep in mind
1. What is the research question? (Why?)
The research question is about the cultural differences among Chinese, Japanese, and American children. Specifically, the research questions focused on examining the time spent by children doing their homework, type and levels of difficulty of homework assignment, children’s feedback to homework (e.g., reasons for doing the homework), parental assistance (including mother’s attitudes), and attitudes of teachers toward children’s homework. The study investigated learners’ amount of time completing homework to find out if they do more homework compared to one another. It also explored if the type and difficulty levels of the homework affect children’s view about homework. Additionally, the research focused on children’s feedback on homework as one culture varies in their perception of having more homework is better or not. Moreover, it was assumed that parental assistance towards homework influence children’s perception of enjoying or not enjoying completion of homework. Further, teachers may have influence children’s attitudes toward homework.
2. What were the findings?
Mothers gave their estimates on the amount of time spent by their children doing homework. Chinese mothers reported that their children spent more time on homework in contrast to Japanese and American mothers whose children spent less time on homework. It was assumed by Chuansheng and Stevenson that the negative attitudes of American children about homework are a consequence of the types of homework assigned to them. Regarding children’s feedback or attitudes toward homework, Chinese children liked it very much, whereas American children disliked it and Japanese children are neutral about it. In view of parents assisting their children in their homework, Chinese parents consistently ranked higher as compared to American families; nonetheless, the latter has a “remarkably favourable view” that they contribute much to their children’s education (Chuansheng & Stevenson, 1989, p. 560). On the other hand, Japanese parents did not report that they give considerable time helping their children in their homework. The reason for this is that Japanese children have juku or after-school classes such as tutorial. In terms of teachers’ attitudes towards homework, Chinese teachers are strong determinants that they have a much more positive attitude to homework than the other two cultures.
3. What are the practical applications?
The practical applications of this research about the cultural differences toward homework are that children should have stronger positive attitudes toward homework, just like Chinese parents and teachers do. Although it has not been established that homework leads to academic success, it is the initial step to it. Homework should not simply be activities done at home, but it should reflect quality and in-depth learning. Children who developed a positive attitude toward homework due to parents’ and teachers’ influences enjoyed doing homework. Parents and teachers should have the same feelings in assisting their children to complete homework. It can be inferred from the study that children who spent more time completing more homework show more ability and diligence.
4. How can I use these findings to be a better teacher/student?
Chuanseng and Stevenson’s were not able to conclusively establish that children within culture who spent more time doing homework are necessarily the most effective learners; conversely, children who spent lesser time on their homework may not great benefited homework. I can only assume that positive regard toward homework completion is an edge to rank higher in achievement tests considering that “[h]omework is a form of practice” (Chuansheng & Stevenson, 1989, p. 561). Thus, the findings can help me become a better student should I develop, too, a positive attitude towards the enjoyable completion of an activity such as a homework and share the findings to others.
Chuansheng, C., & Stevenson, H. (1989). Homework: A Cross-Cultural Examination. Child Development, 60(3), 551-561.