Homework, Yes or No? 

A recent blog (10/18/17) in Education Week by Jill Berkowicz and Ann Meyers discusses the ways we use homework - sort of prodding educators and parents to think about this practice a little more deeply.  Arguably, there is academic value in homework - but it does depend on the age of the student, the level of support they have, and the feedback they receive.  The authors say, “Rather than assigning independent work because we always have, assign it with the knowledge that the practice will be correct and effective and supported with immediate feedback. Discussions and feedback about what is being implemented and how it will affect the practice of the teacher are essential.” Hmm...

Experts might suggest that students with strong parent support may benefit from homework more than less supported students. While there is research that supports a positive relationship between homework and achievement, the effect for young students may be limited (Cooper, 2007).  Also, high schoolers who do more than two hours a night, may have worse achievement results (for a variety of reasons).  These are some interesting thoughts. Hmm....

I have always wondered about the efficacy of homework. If homework is intended to develop non cognitive skills (responsibility, etc…), then that is a different purpose than acquisition of knowledge and understanding.  When I was a teacher, I remember thinking that I needed to assign homework because parents expected it.  But, I have learned to keep in mind that there can be negative effects of homework.  Families can experience stress when students are frustrated with homework.  Students can also develop negative attitudes toward school.  Hmm…..

Later, when I was a principal, I became interested in when homework might be a good leverage to increase student achievement.  I also became interested in how teachers might use homework in grading.  I did learn that when too much of a student's grade is assigned to homework, then there may also be an increase in copying just to get a score - the results is an unclear picture of a student’s understanding.  Interestingly, when I worked in a district that stopped assigning a grade to homework, the copying (cheating) went away.  But, I must admit, there was also a lower rate of homework completion.  Hmm…..

I firmly believe that the purpose of homework should be to help students learn.  I also believe that we should think more about what, when, why and how much homework we expect of students.  

There is a lot of literature in journals and books about this topic. One of the more balanced books I have found is The Battle Over Homework by Harris Cooper.  Parents, teachers or others may want to check it out.  (Corwin Press, 2007).  

Posted by mary.colton On 30 October, 2017 at 2:51 PM  7 Comments

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