Section1: The Problem
Duringthe summer students are engaged in non-academic activities whichoften diminish their learning capacities. While some studies suggeststhat students may have difficulties in integrating classroom conceptsin the early days after their return from vacation, some educatorsare skeptical about summer homework arguing that they add no value tothe learning process (Sun, 2011). Summer homework has become a rulein the modern education systems all over the world. While teacherscontinue to assign summer homework, student hates it. The bigquestion is whether there is research based evidence to show thatsummer homework is necessary does it add any value to the learningprocess?
Accordingto McCombset al (2011), majority of educators assign summer homework to theirchildren to aid learning continuity. Although there are numerousstudies on the effects of summer homework on the learning process,more studies need to be done on the effects on students within aspecified age group or grade. Thepurpose of this researchis to investigate the impact of summer homework in reducing learningloss among students in 4th,5th, and 6th grade. Due to their developmental stage, summervacations are very essential to studentsin 4th,5th, and 6th grade. How summer homework affects on these learners istherefore very significant. The study will be conducted at the middleschool located in Hackensack, New Jersey. By investigating theeffects of summer homework in reducing learning loss, the informationwhich will be gathered through this research will be beneficial inmaking parents become more aware. In doing so, parents can help theschool and the community in encouraging learning retention among thestudents.
Summerhomework is not a new phenomenon in any education system. Summerlearning loss is the loss in academic knowledge and skills by schoolstudents over the summer vacation. The loss in learning is differentacross subject matter, grade level and family income. The learningloss is as a result of the long summer vacation whereby students tendto forget the skills and knowledge, as a result of not engaging ineducational endeavors (Reading is Fundamental ORG, n.d). Thisstudy will establish theimpact of summer vacation on children’s learning and to offersolutions to avoid learning loss during summer. Theexistence of summer homework and summer programs predates even thesummer learning loss earliest studies. Earlierresearch supported the findings that students fail to completehomework packets during summer vacations due to lack of support fromparents (Eunice, 2009). Sincethe 19thcentury, teachers offered summer school programs to students wholagged behind in class, as well as those with a poor Englishproficiency (Furman & Bordoff, 2008). Some educators will arguethat math problems and other summer homework are essential inmaintaining the learned skills throughout the summer. However, someeducators are opposed to it.
Thesecond goal of this study is to determine parent’s role inpromoting learning for their children during summer. Parents play animportant role in the learning process, especially during summer.Parental attitudes towards summer homework will influence the role ofparents in promoting summer learning. Similarly, parents have diverseviews on summer homework. The issue is therefore a controversialtopic affecting the modern education system. It is essential toinvestigate whether majority of parents and educators in a particularschool support summer homework.
Summerlearning loss: it is the tendency of school children to forget theacademic concepts they learned in the previous school year, duringthe summer break (Mccombset al, 2011).
Learninggap: it is the decline in academic achievement, which occurs whenstudents fail to learn and apply the concepts in the expected levelof proficiency (Sun, 2011).
Remedialprogram: refers to the advanced courses designed to assistunderprepared students to bring them to the expected level ofcompetency. Teachers are forced to conduct remedial courses in thefall to remind students the concepts learned in the previous schoolyear (Sun, 2011).
Summerhomework: refers to assignments given to students to do during thesummer break with the intention of reducing summer loss (Mccombset al, 2011).
Summerlearning programs: These are educational programs that are preparedby educators to maintain the learning rhythm among the studentsduring the summer vacation. The programs are prepared to suitstudents at different grade levels (Sun 2011).
Librarysummer reading programs: refers to reading programs organized forschool children during the summer break to maintain the flow ofinstructions in spite of the break from school. The programs utilizedifferent techniques (such as reading games, discussion of books,author visits, storytelling, and book related crafts) to protectchildren from summer slide (Gbore,2013).
Standardizedtest: It is a uniform test issued to students at every grade toassess their proficiency in different areas of study. The testprovides fair, reliable, and valid assessment to all participants. Inaddition, the test is conducted free of bias and unmerited advantagesby providing uniform condition for all partakers (Cherie& Stacey, 2012).
Theimpact of a long summer vacation on the learning process amongelementary and middle school children is a controversial issue amongthe stakeholder education sector. This is because theschool calendarin the United States provides an extended summer break, which reducesnumber of days students spend in school to around 180 days peracademic year. This is relatively lower than other industrializedcountries like Japan where students spend approximately 240 days inschool per academic year. With appropriate knowledge concerning thenegative impacts of the extended summer break on learning and theeffectiveness of summer homework packets in reducing the summerlearning loss, it may be easier to identify practical solutions.
Someteachers and parents have expressed support for summer problemespecially in mathematics and languages. This is based on theassumption that summer learning activities reduce summer learningloss. However, studies that show the extent of learning loss as aresult of long summer vacation are limited. Students are exposed todifferent learning environment and have varying experiences duringsummer vacation. The impact of prolonged vacation with or withoutlearning activities can have a varying effect on the learningcapability of a student. This study focuses on a particular localsetting. While there are some generalized researches, the findings ofthe study will be specific to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade student inHackensack, New Jersey. The conclusions from the study can be used inthe formulation of learning strategies in the specific group oflearners.
Thelarger body of research available at the moment confirms that thelong summer vacation results in learning loss among the studentsespecially those in middle school. The significance of summerhomework in the learning process can be investigated using a specificresearch subject. The study will investigate whether summer homeworkreduces learning loss among 4th,5th, and 6th grade. In conducting this research, the following questions will serve as aguide:
What are the positive impacts of summer homework in reducing learning loss?
What are the negative impacts of summer homework on the learning process?
What are the attitudes of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students on summer homework?
What are the views of parents and teachers about on summer homework?
Theapproach to this question will be guided by two main hypotheses
Parents will believe that summer homework is problematic because of the lack of direct interaction with teachers, as well as the feeling that it deprives children of the ability to engage in non-school related undertakings during their summer vacations.
Teachers will believe that the homework assigned to students does not require great deal of time and does not necessitate a vast strain on families as equated to the potential learning benefits.
Thetwo hypotheses indicate that there are three key parties (parents,students, and teachers) conflicting on the issue of summer packetsand summer programs. Previous studies indicate that while someparents and teachers support summer homework, others are opposed toit. The current research is needed to help design a suitable pilotprogram that will be agreeable to the three parties. The programshould reduce the summer learning loss while taking into account theneed for children to rest and play. The pilot program will allowstudents to finish their summer homework using a computer program oran online system. This will facilitate immediate grading as opposedto having pupils wait until the first day of the new school year toturn in finalizing assignments. The pilot program will createsummertime assignments that will not only be useful to students, butthat are also deemed to be worthy to both students, parents, andteachers because they can be more efficiently completed usingcomputersand the internet as opposed to standard paper-basedassignment. This will also reduce the remedial time required forteachers to remind students the concepts learned in the last academicyear 2010.
Gbore,L. O. (2013). “The Relative Effectiveness of Three EvaluationTechniques on Academic Performance of Secondary School IntegratedScience Students in Ondo State, Nigeria”, Journalof Eduacation and Practice,Vol 4, No 12,
Cherie,P. & Stacey H. (2013). Betterserving teens through school library-public library collaborations,Santa Barbara, Calfornia: Libraries Unlimited.