Homework is a core pedagogical tool used by schools around the world. Yet concern for heavy homework load has been raised regarding stress on students and families and how it may overshadow opportunities for non-academic development. Drawing support from Self-Determination Theory and Hope Theory, an innovative intervention project was designed to create homework-free opportunities for school children to take part in freely chosen self-directed leisure activities. The project was implemented in four primary schools in Hong Kong during the Easter holiday in 2017 and 2018. A mixed-method evaluation was conducted to appraise the experiences of student participants as well as the project’s impact on holiday satisfaction, homework attitudes and self-directed outcomes. This study’s sample was comprised of 1,425 students enrolled in Primary levels 1 to 6. Participants reported in interviews that engagement in self-chosen, self-directed leisure activities were exciting and appealing. Pre- and post-holiday survey results with control-group comparisons confirmed that students who undertook self-directed leisure activities over a homework-free holiday gained enhanced agency thinking and academic competence while also becoming less inclined to see homework as meeting their immediate learning needs. Implications are also discussed regarding the benefits of self-directed leisure activities as well as school-based homework policies regarding assignment load.


academic competence, agency thinking, pathways thinking, self-determination theory, hope theory



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.