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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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Leonard Klein's picture
Leonard Klein
high school chemistry and technology teacher

I agree with you that practice is necessary, especially in an AP class and for most AP calculus will need that practice. In my chemistry class the flipped idea seems to be working. I provide video lectures and we do practice in class. Most problems students have need help as they go and working at home does not do that. Good luck with your class and keep up the homework.

Ghostwheel's picture

[quote]Leonard Klein-You actually make my point...[/quote]There are not enough hours in the day to do the homework for every class who thinks THEIR class needs two hours of homework every day plus project assignments, eat, sleep, maintain personal hygiene and possibly talk to your family, much less any friends. They could not, in any way, shape or form, also participate in any extra curricular functions, including football (or music or art, or acting).

Do the math.

Again, my friends and I were taught IN class with minimal homework. We have all gone on to earn six figure incomes, and that was because we had the time AFTER school to explore the areas we were interested in, instead of being swamped with the work teachers were not able to cover in class. Did we just have teachers who were better able to teach within the classroom?

Leonard Klein's picture
Leonard Klein
high school chemistry and technology teacher

No one said that students should do 2 hr of homework per class per night! With my videos for flipping my class the time to watch is about half an hour. Also watching students during their "free block" at my school they do not use time wisely. The idea that students can multitask and do practice or any homework is foolish. What would coach say if players tried to text during practice? If students want to get the most out of the time they put in and put in the least possible they have to concentrate on what they are doing.

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Online Editor
Blogger

This is such an important discussion! An interesting point: if a secondary student is given nightly homework, 1-2 hours worth, from every core teacher, that's 6 plus hours of homework a night!

I appreciate those that have commented that the homework they give is mostly reading. This is something most will agree is of so much importance!

As secondary teachers, we need to coordinate the amount of content specific HW we are assigning each day. Also, a school-wide reading program could also articulate reading homework.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments!
Rebecca
Edutopia

Jim Doherty's picture

1 - 2 hours of work for a single class that meets every school day borders on abuse. I tell my students, even the AP classes, that they should not spend more than 35 - 40 minutes. I also do not assign homework every night. Reading should clearly not take up class time, but there is other homework that is important practice that students should not do without. When we try to balance their extracurricular lives, the calendar, bell schedules, early dismissals, etc. we can go crazy. All a responsible professional can ultimately do is be sensitive when we can and not punish kids when HW is incomplete or incorrect.

Ghostwheel's picture

[quote]1 - 2 hours of work for a single class that meets every school day borders on abuse. I tell my students, even the AP classes, that they should not spend more than 35 - 40 minutes. I also do not assign homework every night. Reading should clearly not take up class time, but there is other homework that is important practice that students should not do without. When we try to balance their extracurricular lives, the calendar, bell schedules, early dismissals, etc. we can go crazy. All a responsible professional can ultimately do is be sensitive when we can and not punish kids when HW is incomplete or incorrect.[/quote]This is one of my main issues with homework. Punishing kids because they didn't understand what was taught in class and did the homework incorrectly. In most of our schools, all that happens is that the kids are marked wrong, get a poor grade to add to their overall grade and the teacher moves on. That is not helpful in any way, shape or form. In regards to credit, homework should only be "you did it/you didn't". EVERY student who bothers to correct their homework and learn what they did wrong should get full credit. There is no point to going back and figuring out what you did wrong if nothing changes.

When my daughter was in middle school, she had math teachers that thought every child should be able to get an A. As long as the student kept trying to improve their grade, they could, there was no "You got a 'C' you are stuck with it." This school has improved their math standards testing to 41% advanced in 8th grade. Teachers should continually teach, not just grade and move on.

You don't learn by doing 44 problems wrong, getting an "F" and moving to the next assignment. You learn when you find out what you did wrong and figure out how to do it right.

Leonard Klein's picture
Leonard Klein
high school chemistry and technology teacher

I find it interesting that reading is thought of as "easy" and should be done more, or at least this is how I read this post. As a student for whom reading was tough and math/science was easier I wonder if we should target the type of homework. I think reading a science text is not an easy task and reading math almost impossible, but reading Moby Dick was worse. So pick your poison and dig in.

I'm enjoying the discussion.
Len

Wendy's picture
Wendy
6th grade math

I was researching this issue last weekend and found a study that showed a positive correlation between homework and test scores in math. I do believe that math is the one subject where homework is needed.

Alison's picture
Alison
6th Grade Math Teacher from Mississippi

I agree with you Wendy! To me math is like playing sports you HAVE to practice or there is no improvement. I am glad that our principal agrees. Math is the only subject that is allowed to give homework every night.

Ghostwheel's picture

[quote]I was researching this issue last weekend and found a study that showed a positive correlation between homework and test scores in math. I do believe that math is the one subject where homework is needed.[/quote]The title of this post is just an opinion based on my own research. I found lots of studies, many of which contradicted each other in regards to homework. http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/hwach.htm (which is rather biased against homework, obviously) mentions several studies done over the years which show no obvious conclusions and http://www.greatschools.org/students/homework-help/1938-what-research-sa... confirms that to an extent with "A few studies can always be found to buttress whatever position is desired, while the counter-evidence is ignored," writes the nation's top homework scholar, Harris Cooper, in his 2006 homework meta-study at Duke University's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience." There is also a line about how it might depend on grade level, because non-homework classes did worse than homework classes, but-IMO-it also COULD have just been how the teacher teaches. My own experience was completely different. My friends with the homework teacher (whom everyone truly disliked) got far lower scores than I did with my non-homework teacher (whom everyone liked). I really think it had more to do with the teacher and how they taught.

I, of course, do not agree you need math homework EVERY night. I don't think you need any homework EVERY night, unless the teacher is not doing their job correctly. I think most of the work should be taught and done in class, where a teacher can help you if you don't get it. Like we used to do, back in the old days, when Kansas City was a prairie......OK, I'm not THAT old, but homework has increased threefold since 1981. Are our test scores three times higher? Nope.

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