Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Homework, Quiz, School, Test, Exam  As teachers, we are all aware of the debate over homework.  Is it effective?  Is it worth it?  If we give it, what is the best way to do it?  Certainly not like it was when I was in school.  I suspect many of you encountered the same type of assignments.  The page whatever, every 3rd one so you practiced the same type of thing 30 times.

That is not an effective way to assign homework.  So what is the best way to assign homework so it is effective and has real value?

There are several factors to keep in mind when creating homework so it is effective and not a waste of time.  Homework is best used to build and maintain proficiency of skills.

1.  Create smaller assignments which are assigned more often so practice is distributed over time. It is important so students maintain their knowledge and retain the information better.  These smaller practices are also less intimidating than larger ones.

2. Set a purpose for the assignment and share it with students so they have a reason for the homework. 

3.  Make sure the homework does not take very long to do - no more than 30 minutes or so.

4. Provide answers for the homework you have assigned so students know if their answers are correct.  This provides immediate feedback to students so they can rework problems before turning them in.

5. Personalize the assignment so students take ownership of it. 

6.  Make sure they feel they can do the assignment otherwise they may give up before even trying.

Think of homework as part of the learning process in which it provides practice while checking for understanding, or improving their ability to process information.

I do give homework once a week in all my classes.  The homework assignment has 10 problems which cover the material already taught, even from the beginning of the year.  I provide answers either in the QR code attached to a corner or I place the answers in the back of the room.  When I put the answers on the wall, I show how each and every problem is worked so they can check it out if they get stuck.

The homework problems are only for review and I do not expect them to apply the material to new situations  without actually talking about it and showing a couple examples first. Students need these examples to check as they do the assignment.  The homework is only worth about 10% of the grade so if they do not turn it in, their over all grade does not go down too much. 

I'd be interested in hearing what you all think about assigning homework.