Study: Using the Internet to Do Homework May Lower Students’ Exam Grades

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. retain / rɪˈteɪn / (v) – to continue to keep something

    The company was able to retain more than 70% of its employees after the merger.

  2. grapple / ˈgræp əl / (v) – to try to deal with or understand something difficult, usually a problem

    The students grappled with the math problem for almost an hour.

  3. echo / ˈɛk oʊ / (v) – to repeat something that was said or written before

    The article echoed the critics’ bad reviews about the movie.

  4. overdependence / oʊ vər dɪˈpɛn dəns / (n) – the act of relying too much on someone or something for assistance, help, or support

    The local government’s overdependence on the tourism sector has had negative consequences on the environment.

  5. self-reliant / ˈsɛlf rɪˈlaɪ ənt / (adj) – able to do things without needing the help of others

    My sister got a job right after graduation and quickly became self-reliant.


Read the text below.

A new study has found that easy access to the internet for homework is not good for students’ learning.

According to the study, being able to easily get information online is harming students’ ability to retain information. Researchers found that some students who relied on the internet to do their homework got higher homework scores but lower exam grades.

For the study, the researchers looked at the exam scores of 2,433 Rutgers University students for 11 years. They discovered that in 2008, 14% of students scored lower on their exams compared to their homework. However, this drastically increased when smartphones and internet use became more prevalent. In 2017, the percentage rose to 55%.

Lead author Arnold Glass said the reason for the decline in students’ grades was the students’ ability to easily find the correct answers for their homework online. Getting instant answers made students quickly forget the contents of their homework. Glass adds that searching for answers online turns homework into a meaningless activity since the purpose of homework is for students to grapple with a question and come up with an answer themselves.

The study’s findings echo similar concerns in a report released in 2012. According to the report, middle and high school teachers worry that students’ overdependence on search engines may reduce their ability to think critically.

However, other teachers believe that the effects of digital learning tools like smartphones and the internet are not entirely negative. Many teachers said that access to these technologies and resources has helped students become self-reliant learners.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Given the findings of the study, do you agree that easy access to the internet is hindering students’ learning? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, do the positive effects of the internet on students’ learning outweigh its negative effects? Explain.

Discussion B

• Do you agree that doing homework helps students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills? Why or why not?
• Aside from assigning homework, what are other ways to develop critical thinking among students? Discuss.