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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Should we assign homework?

Should we assign homework?

Related Tags: Assessment
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Hi all, I'd like to start a discussion here on the benefits or drawbacks to assigning regular homework to students. I've had a lot of discussion with educators in the past year or so about homework, and met with mixed reviews of homework. Most educators I talk to support it, but much of the reading I've done seems either ambivalent about the practice or even quite negative. I could start off with an opinion piece, but I'd rather that each person who has a position posts it here, and then I'll post my opinion later. David

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Mrs C Swait's picture
Mrs C Swait
Researching parents/pupils/teacher/institutions thoughts on exam revision

[quote]I agree with Ryan. Homework should not be given just to be given.

Personally, I don't give homework everyday and I try to do as much as I can in class. Nevertheless, some lessons may require more work out of the classroom, then yes homework is necessary and students always come with some questions which is good.

We want students to enjoy learning and to enjoy the courses they are taking.[/quote]

A great observation and I also think the comment and experience of Mario & "xta" very interesting...there is a lot of truth in both. But would you not however agree that one of the main issues of about Homework is that it must be seen, whether flipped or otherwise, as separate and distinct from revision for exams? The existence of standardised tests is a given and for the revision process it is necessary to set aside an entirely different time slot with a focus not on subject in general but exclusively on that which will be required for accurate delivery in the exam, both in form and content, to achieve the highest results. In my opinion, this should of course not replace the other sort of Homework (flipped or otherwise). This subject based Homework should relate to the creative learning process which could perhaps be prescribed as interacting in an authentic way by each pupil with the subject matter itself. If we see these as two separate and distinct types of Homework, I think the efficacy of the time spent working at home and its consequent positive effect on both a creative and intriguing classroom life as well as the highest possible exam results for each pupil will be best achieved.

Shekhar's picture
Shekhar
IBDP TOK teacher

Home work is perception of teacher and students! Belief that it is time consuming, can be avoided, best avoided, is must for higher education, STEM needs it, practice makes men perfect, are all ideas that work best with individual solutions! Finding customised solution for Homework according to me seems best option!
Identify your learning need and work accordingly!

Annette Loubriel's picture
Annette Loubriel
Homeschooling

[quote]Home work is perception of teacher and students! Belief that it is time consuming, can be avoided, best avoided, is must for higher education, STEM needs it, practice makes men perfect, are all ideas that work best with individual solutions! Finding customised solution for Homework according to me seems best option! Identify your learning need and work accordingly![/quote]

Good common sense.

4momtch2's picture

As a teacher most of what my students have as homework tends to stem from what they didn't finish in class. I try to give enough time that in reality they shoudl be able to finish in class. However as a parent...I do believe there are some things that children need to have at home such as studying their spelling words. My daughter's school is having the teachers try homework as being an option. I fought with her all week to study and the response was it is optional, well her test proved she should have studied. I had to tell her teacher that I needed him to say it wasn't optional so that it would get done. My oldest child is in college this year and has always been an advanced student and her comment when I told her this idea was, "If I hadn't had the practice of doing homework in school, I would not know how to manage working, class, getting the homework in college, and having time for myself had I not had the practice while I was in school." I believe both as an educator and parent that homwork has it's place, but we need to ask ourselves what is the purpose we are trying to accomplish? Can we get the same information with less? I know this has changed how I do math and made my students not dread math as much.

Tammy's picture
Tammy
8th grade English in traditional classroom -- 9th grade English online

This is pretty much where I am. Certain subject areas give daily homework and students struggle to get it done. While I don't think athletics should supersede homework - I have 8th graders currently playing ball until 10 p.m. It is a reality. Finally, English homework takes a backseat to all other - it is simply left undone. So - I do what I can in class and make the review and mastery part of our classroom work. I only assign homework when cannot get around it.

Ghostwheel's picture

[quote]I use a style of portfolio grading that integrates classwork as sort of a rough draft. It's been my experience that if I allow the kids to practice in class with guidance from me, that they will then feel much more comfortable revising whatever they need to at home. Often homework is not completed because there is a lack of understanding.

I do checks and take classwork grades based on attempts at understanding and critical thinking that I observe while the student is working. If we're doing a lab for example, I will assess standards such as use of the scientific method, experimental design, and collaboration. If the math or graphs are not correct, I don't take points off right away, but let them revise their work at home. The same is true for in class writings, models, data analysis, etc.

At the end of the week, the kids turn in their portfolios with at least 7 complete, revised examples of their work (3 that they choose, 4 that I have assigned) that I then assign a final grade and return. You give the kids a chance to choose how they want to express their understanding, while also making sure that core standards are addressed.[/quote]
Thank you! It is comforting to know there is at least one educator still out there who actually understands how people learn. You do not learn by doing an assignment, getting a zero, then moving on to the next thing on the list. You learn by finding out what you did wrong and doing it right. There have only been a handful of educators I have seen in the past ten years who have either the time or inclination, or both, to allow students to learn by revising their work. The best ones had a great policy: anyone can have an A, just go back and do the assignment correctly. Do it ten times if you have to, but you can still get the A. Now there is homework that makes sense. Does anyone think that a student who did an assignment ten times, and finally got an A, didn't learn what that assignment was all about? And isn't that the point of going to school?

cristina's picture
cristina
High School Algebra Teacher from Texas

I give my students homework. The question is do they do it? Some of them will while the others merely copy. I tell my students all the time that if they are not doing their homework on their own, they will not be successful on the quizzes and tests. I just can't seem to get them to understand that. Any suggestions?

Mario Patiño's picture
Mario Patiño
NBCT, science educator

[quote] The question is do they do it? Some of them will while the others merely copy. I tell my students all the time that if they are not doing their homework on their own, they will not be successful on the quizzes and tests. I just can't seem to get them to understand that. Any suggestions?[/quote]

You bring up some very good issues Cristina. In my experience, students will not do homework if they don't understand it or see no purpose in it. The first thing you can do is reflect on why you even give homework, what is the purpose behind it? The next thing you can do is create a survey and ask the students specific questions on why they don't do homework, or why they don't value it. Share the results of this survey and use this information to have open discussions on the purpose behind the homework assignments and address some of the students feedback. This not only shows the students that you value their feedback but it also helps you to gain more insights on the learning process that takes place away from home.

My students learn very quickly that work outside of class is important since 95% of their grade is based on performance on summative exams. I don't grade homework since I treat it as formative assessment. Students still do the work because they value the feedback I give them. For instance, when I give a writing assignment, I tell the students that they can continue to revise their papers to meet standard as long as they submit the first draft on time. I will then let them determine which version I assess for credit. Some students meet standard on their second attempt, while others a little longer. The lesson they learn from such interventions are

1. I will give them multiple opportunities to accomplish the learning goal
2. They learn from each experience
3. They develop metacognitive skills [such as self-regulation],
4. They control their final grade
5. Relationship between student and teacher is more productive when a partnership is formed.
Yes this takes some work at the front end but by the middle of the year, students are pretty sharp on the amount of work they need to do away from school to meet learning goals.

Barbara W.'s picture
Barbara W.
6th grade math and science teacher from California

Doing homework for a purpose, I believe, is a good thing. The purpose of homework should be to solidify what the student already knows or has learned for that day. When they go home to practice, students should know how to do the work with a high level of accuracy. If they do not have a firm foundation in the content being taught, then they should not go home and practice it.
Also, give the students a choice in what they do for homework. Research shows that by giving the students a choice in their practice, you increase their motivation, you increase completion, and you are helping them take ownership of their learning.

Allison Keeney's picture
Allison Keeney
Parent of two teenage girls

I think homework can be good. Too much homework I believe has the opposite effect than is intended. I also believe homework should never be used as a punishment. Education should always be held as a privilege and not a chore. I believe also that some students should get more time, but not too much,on homework assignments when the student has many other equally enriching activities and/or commitments in their life.
In a world where our youth are leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle of not only school work but also sedentary social lives of electronic and online stimulation we really need to encourage our young people to have healthy wholesome social activities that take them away from the desk/table/computer.

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