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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Should we assign homework?

Should we assign homework?

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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

You actually make my point, those who play football practice a great deal to do one thing, play in the game. Students do not do the work and wonder why they have trouble playing in the game, taking a test or doing homework. As a music teacher points out, practice is necessary.

In chemistry you have to practice and you have to become engaged with the material. Homework gives you that chance, whether or not you take the opportunity to be engaged is up to you.

kelly camak's picture

I teach at an early college, and college requires homework. College requires time-consuming, difficult, research based homework. If our students don't experience organization, time-management and homework skills before college, they will not succeed. We must help our students get ready for college by including meaningful out of class work in our courses.

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

No, I have been following the discussion of the Flipped Classroom for a while and decided to try it out. Those students who put in the effort and watch the material I prepared seem ( not this is my perception )to do better in class with the class work I give them. I am giving "homework" type problems in class and walking around working with the students as they attempt these problems. I get to chat a lot more with the students and can better assess where they are in their learning.

It seems to be working, but it is definitely not my idea.

Jim Doherty's picture

I definitely appreciate this idea and would argue that all of the sports/music comparisons SHOULD support this model. Musicians when with their teacher practice with supervision. Teams practice with supervision and correction. we send kids home alone to try. However, my concern is that I try to structure my math classroom as a conversation. I rely SO much of questioning and prompting while running my class and I know that would be lost if kids were just watching a video. Any ideas? Any suggestions?

Charles's picture
Graduate Student

I could see the flipped classroom working, but I don't know if there is anything profound there. The key is that children are (self) motivated enough to do some kind of work out of the classroom. I suppose "office hours" aren't feasible as they are in the university setting, but perhaps homeworks could be due every other class, (say, MWF) so that T/Th are days where you can respond to questions.

Also, with sports and music - there are the times where there is supervision, and then there are times where the athlete/musician must practice on his/her own. It might also help to guide them on how to assess their own performance where possible.

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

The conversation comes in class while the students practice. This week I have spent more time working with students who have questions related to the material, that they have already thought about. The hope is that class will provide the opportunity for the conversation about the material after the students have heard some if it.

JOHANNA's picture

I wonder what can I do instead and avoid having parents all over me? I have students that never do their homework. What do you with these students? I have told them that they will get a grade for their homework but this is not wroking. I have taken recess away and work with them in small groups and some of them do not seem to be concerned at all. I just wonder...

Corah's picture

As the teacher whose club is Homework help, I find that the overwhelming response is that students like the club. They get their homework done (generally quicker than at home) and have the rest of the day to do what they want. Also, once they get their homework done in the club they can do puzzles, go on the computer or play games with other done students.

Paul Martorano's picture

I tend to be on the side of little or no homework; except I do try to get my students to read every night. Depending on the age group. I worked with first grade and I let them choose a book that they could read to someone, and another book that a parent or guardian could read to them. I'm convinced that this nightly reading did help may students with their fluency;as many of them did increase. Of course, one could argue that the reading skills would increase anyway. With the 3/4 group I now have, I ask them to read each night for fifteen to twenty minutes and respond to a nightly journal question,which can be answered in a sentence or two. Some Parents feel that this is too much and others feel that it is not enough. I agree with the gentleman who expressed his thought that parents should be doing learning activities at home with their children. This will turn a learning experience into family time. As a parent, I have a daughter in sixth grade who gets quite a bit of homework and I can see her burning out by the end of her assignments. I am sure that she is not getting anything out of all that "practice" and I will usually tell her to stop. However, she believes that she must do all of her assignments in order to be a "good" student. I guess I think some homework is not bad if it has a real purpose other than practice, and it can be done in a reasonable amount of time. In fact I always tell both students and parents that their children should spend about a half hour. I also never give weekend or holiday homework. Kids need time to process their day, and to much homework prevents that.

Annette Loubriel's picture
Annette Loubriel

[quote]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.

I have read with interest all negative comments on homework, and agreed on all of them as a homeschool teacher. AP Calculus'teacher comment made me remember my Calculus classes. I agree that, in the case of Mathematics, homework is a must. What made me excel in these classes was the fact that I did all the practice problems of the book, and I gather this could not be possible to acheive during class time. So, maybe we can partially conclude, that homework may be useful for the subject of Mathematics.

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