This Chapter presents the paper’s analytical approach and includes an assessment of the paper’s added
value as well as its limitations.
Student learning time as a key educational resource
Concerns about effective use of resources in schools raise a question of how to distribute, allocate and
organise resources in a way that would be most conducive to learning. Rearrangement of student learning
time, next to reduction of class size and increase of teachers’ salaries, has emerged as one of the key ideas
for reallocation of newly available resources in countries with a decreasing number of students. Since it is
argued that “the most valuable resource in the educational process is no doubt student learning time”
(OECD, 2004: 240), optimising this resource has been presented as one of the key measures in improving
student achievement (Carroll, 1989; Scheerens and Bosker, 1997; Marzano, 2003).

 While students acquire
skills and knowledge in many different ways, this paper will concentrate primarily on the time students
spend learning in regular school lessons and also consider their participation in summer and after-school
programmes and extracurricular activities.
Different ways students spend time learning
This paper defines student learning time as a resource invested by students in three types of deliberate
learning activities in institutional settings:

 • Regular lessons at school: The time students spend on instructional activities in school. It should
be underpinned by allocated instruction time (see below).
• Summer and after-school programmes: The time students spend in programmes created on the
initiative of education authorities to offer additional work on curricular subjects either at school
after regular school hours, or in other settings. These can offer remedial or enrichment
instructional activities.

 • Extra-curricular activities: The time students spend in voluntary classes dissociated from the
regular curriculum and taking place after regular school hours in institutionalised settings.
It is of note that students invest time also in completing homework, that is, tasks decided by teachers
in the classroom for completion by students during non-school hours. On average in the OECD, students in
PISA 2012 reported spending 4.9 hours per week on homework or other study set by teachers; this was one
hour less than reported on average in PISA 2003 (OECD, 2013b, Tables IV.3.27 and IV.3.48). While no
relationship was found across the OECD countries between time students spend on homework and their
performance, schools where students report spending more time on homework tended to perform better
(OECD, 2013b, Table IV.1.2). However, this paper does not examine time that students invest in homeworks 

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