The Effects of Covid on Homework and Structure: Why it Matters


Photo source: Mary Altaffer of Fox News

Justin Doucette, Writer

For many students, homework is seen as pointless and time-consuming, while others see it as beneficial. With the current global COVID-19 pandemic, school administrations have deemed it “inappropriate” for teachers to incorporate homework and high expectations into their curricula and standards for this year. In some cases, this is a blessing. However, in others, it is an invitation for chaos and disorder. Students should have reasonable amounts of homework to prevent further disorganization and to assist in classroom functioning. 

Freshman and sophomore English teacher Elisa Kobuskie mentioned that a lot of students at Pentucket seem to have gotten used to the way things were in the Spring of 2020.

“Deadlines and perimeters are important,” said Ms. Kobuskie. “Kids benefit from the structure.” When there are standards and deadlines then there becomes a motivation to complete and understand the work provided. This has to do with workload because, in prior years, most students have been able to complete hours worth of homework on top of an eight-hour school day with little fault. Now, the deficiency of accountability and homework is responsible for causing students to struggle to attempt to complete even one hour of homework. 

Would homework or an increased amount of work be beneficial in a time like this? “For continuity and reinforcement, yes,” says Ms. Kobuskie. Homework is essential to providing structure and solidifying newly acquired knowledge. 

“Homework is a time to practice what is covered,” commented Pentucket math teacher Mrs. Barlow. She, among others, believes that all work given is extremely important and beneficial to the education of all students.

In a survey conducted at Pentucket, approximately 60.5% of 43 students admitted they have gotten used to the remote learning displayed in March of 2020. This is relevant because it displays how easily one can forget the structure of school in a matter of three months. 74.4% of those students fear falling behind in the upcoming school years due to the relaxed homework and structural environment. This tells us that there are significant changes to be made. 53.5% of students who desire that change agree with Ms. Kobuskie that homework, in reasonable amounts, has the ability to benefit learning and structure. 

Sophomore Jason Sciacca explained how homework is beneficial scholastically, admitting, “It can help reinforce a concept in a student’s mind and give them practice with it.” He added, “Homework can also be good for teachers because it allows them to cover more topics by assigning things for homework instead of doing them in class.” Of 43 students, 53.5% are in agreement with Sciacca on this matter. 

It is already difficult to both teach and learn when one has three remote days and two in-class days. On top of that, some people merely have those three remote days to absorb any information due to catching up on sleep, finishing late assignments, or working a job. Pentucket does not require students to attend virtual classes, and Mrs. Barlow suggests that this is a problem on the front of accountability and structure. “[You] need to do everything normal but not require students to attend remotely,” she said. “If you only do two days of work then you’re missing three days.”

Students missing out on the structure of school and homework for these past 11 months has essentially caused a majority of the student population to fall behind. Regardless, Pentucket should not fall into that majority. 

Like many people, Ms. Kobuskie believes that “school would be better five days a week,” for the sake of completing lessons at a normal pace rather than in a confusing matter. It would also be beneficial to cover more material over the span of a shorter time. But that is a currently-debated topic. Until students return to school full time, there needs to be a way for everyone to stay on top of everything. If there were higher expectations and more structure provided for students regarding homework, then they would be able to comprehend the material being handed to them each day at a faster rate. On top of that, teachers would be able to progress through their lesson plans with little interruption. 

The fact of the matter is that school goes faster when there is structure, boundaries, and homework. Mrs. Barlow says that homework is a tool to practice the material taught in class, used to enforce one’s understanding of a topic, and then prepare the student to move forward onto bigger and better challenges. The hybrid model completely obliterates this method of learning that has existed for over a century.

Most students miss the old remote model. In spite of that, 74.4% of students fear that the 2021-2022 school year will be more difficult due to the lack of work and structure in the current year. If these loose expectations continue, then students at Pentucket are at serious risk of walking blindly into their 2021-2022 school year, only having accomplished about half of what should have been. Will teachers ease back into normal student life? Or will there be immediate high expectations? 

The answer to those questions should be made clear to students, for there is so much that is left to interpretation. It is crucial for the full participation of students at Pentucket to have clear expectations, deadlines, and goals set by teachers and the administration. Structure, for starters, would be highly improved along with these defining aspects. The way homework and remote work is being handled currently is detrimental to education as a whole and should be enforced by students rather than disregarded. A lot of students see homework as optional, and with the reinforcement of the given, it would be more beneficial because homework is essential.

Homework is important and necessary for both students and teachers because it provides students with daily structure and gives them the opportunity to understand the things they have learned throughout the day. It also gives teachers the opportunity to cover more material over a shorter period of time. If Pentucket proceeds to deny the structure that all students desire, then it will be a challenge in the current and upcoming school years for students and teachers to remain on the same page.