The researchers looked at all the steps that students had to complete to be successful with homework, something they called the “completion cycle.” These include:
- Accurately recording assignments with sufficient detail
- Bringing home the materials needed for the assignment
- Planning ahead to complete the work (ie: not procrastinating)
- Staying focused and completing the work correctly
- Bringing the completed work back to school and handing it in.
Even where teachers or parents provided some homework support, most of these responsibilities fell upon students to meet.
Multiple teachers were questioned about assignment completion and their reports about each student were highly consistent across classes, with teachers reporting that students with ADHD were turning in an average of 12 percent fewer assignments than their classmates.
Furthermore, there was a strong correlation between the percentage of assignments turned in at the beginning of the study and students’ school grades some 18 months later, even when controlling for numerous academic and socio-economic factors that could affect grades. Poor homework completion was associated with low grades and low grades were associated with lower future homework completion rates. The study also found that students whose parents rated their “homework material management” as problematic at the inception of the study were likely to be reported by teachers as having a lower percentage of assignments turned in as the study came to an end.
The researchers note that homework assignment completion problems are persistent across time and can be an important intervention target for teens with ADHD. For parents (and teachers) dealing with students who seem scattered and disorganized in numerous areas of their lives, a focus on homework may be a good first step towards improving their school performance.