A Comparison of Traditional Homework to Computer-Supported Homework

Spring 2009

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Volume 41, Issue 3; p. 331 – 359.(Spring 2009)

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study compared learning for fifth grade students in two math homework conditions. The paper-and-pencil condition represented traditional homework, with review of problems in class the following day. The Web-based homework condition provided immediate feedback in the form of hints on demand and step-by-step scaffolding.


Setting and Participants
The setting for this study was 4 fifth grade classrooms and students' home computers. The school was located in a small town in a rural county and was a sample of convenience. Approximately 350 students were enrolled in the school at the time of the study, with at least 50% receiving free or reduced lunch. All four classes were typical elementary classes with a mix of below-average, average, and above-average students. Teachers gave a total of 92 students (54 with Internet access at home) this homework assignment, depending on their access.

The authors analyzed the results for students who completed both the paper-and-pencil and the Web-based conditions. In this group of 28 students, students learned significantly more when given computer feedback than when doing traditional paper-and-pencil homework, with an effect size of .61. The implications of this study are that, given the large effect size, it may be worth the cost and effort to give Web-based homework when students have access to the needed equipment, such as in schools that have implemented one-to-one computing programs.

Updated: May. 21, 2009