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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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128 Replies 7932 Views
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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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

I've also heard pros and cons to this question. I can tell you that this article, written by Alfie Kohn, ""Homework: No Proven Benefits - Why homework is a pointless and outdated habit" is one of our most popular articles on this subject.

I'm curious about any recent research on the effectiveness of homework in the classroom. Anyone know of any?

Jennifer's picture

I read some of Harris Cooper arguments for keeping homework and Alfie's for getting rid of it. Harris Cooper is persuasive to keep homework, but at my level (3rd grade) it should be minimal. I focus HEAVILY on the organizational skills of how to remember to do your homework and get it back to me. If a kid misses an assignment I talk to them about where the breakdown was, so the child can understand what prevents them from turning it in. Projects are usually done in class. I try to remember that kids have lives outside of school. I never assign on weekend and never over the holidays. That time belongs to the family. I encourage reading the most with a monthly book log. I've done my best to stay within researched parameters. Some parents would like more homework.

Ryan Reed's picture
Ryan Reed
7/8th Grade Social Studies Teacher in Maine

On the one hand, I think that there can be no (academic) downside to extra practice and the reconnections homework allows students to make. However, my assignments tend to be few and fairly short out of respect for students' other commitments. I make sure that I give them plenty of time to do major projects in class, and only require they be done for homework if a student was absent or did not use in-class time wisely.

Brett Hinton's picture
Brett Hinton
Director of Educational Technology at the Arizona Department of Education

"Some parents would like more homework" - It's always interesting to me that parents think it is "teachers" responsibility to give "home"work. Just because a teacher doesn't assign required homework doesn't stop those parents from engaging their child in additional learning activities.

I'm pretty sure the kids were not asking for more! While I'm less and less a fan of traditional homework, I'm increasingly a fan of learning activities that parents and students can engage in together. If, as teachers, we can help to make those kind of interactions occur more easily, then I am all for it.

Dawn Walker's picture
Dawn Walker
Biology teacher and campis tech integration specialist

I start off my year telling my students that if we use our time wisely, we should be able to get all our work done during class and that I believe they spend plenty of time in school, so they should be able to go home at night and be with their families or participate in the activities without having to worry about school work. It keeps them more focused during class. I do expect them to study for tests on their own but as far doing assignments, I try to limit that quite a bit.

David Wees's picture
David Wees
Learning Specialist: Technology for Stratford Hall
Blogger 2014

[quote]On the one hand, I think that there can be no (academic) downside to extra practice and the reconnections homework allows students to make. However, my assignments tend to be few and fairly short out of respect for students' other commitments. I make sure that I give them plenty of time to do major projects in class, and only require they be done for homework if a student was absent or did not use in-class time wisely.[/quote]

So what about the students who go home and practice a misconception a bunch of times? Have they reinforced a mistake, repeatedly? That seems to be a problem.

Should you assign homework to punish students for their misbehaviour? Will they learn about the value of reflection and finishing up work to meet deadlines by viewing work done at home as a punishment?

I like that you focus on the major work during class, I do the same thing. I'm just recognizing the limitations of sending kids home with work they can't complete.

Thiago Fernandes's picture

It seems that homework is based on the idea that if assigned, students will spend more time thinking about a subject, practicing and reflecting upon it and that will automatically have a positive effect. By my experience, especially as a student, it seems that is an antiquated assumption. Any sort of meaningful reflection and practice of a subject or skill will only happen with student's internal, natural interest on the matter. Homework [again, in my experience] is basically just a nuisance that student's put off to the last minute or never do at all. As a result, teachers waste time explaining extensively and then grading assignments that students' didn't want to do in the first place.

Also, making homework assignments fun doesn't remove this problem. It only creates artificial interest in students that is temporary.

Azalee Vereen's picture
Azalee Vereen
AP Calculus Teacher Southern Georgia

As an AP Calculus teacher, I find that homework is a necessary part of my curriculum. My students have problems to solve that require a minimum of 3 hours per week outside of class....aka homework. There are also extra credit problems that can also be done outside of class.

Doesn't homework, or work outside of class compare to a professional bringing work home, or staying late at the office? I think in order to be successful, students must learn that doing more is always better than doing just enough to get by. Reward your hard workers.

YES to homework!

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