Homework and Schools

homewrk figureHomework is a topic of much discussion and controversy, yet in many schools remains a largely unexamined practice. Many schools require that homework be assigned, without much thought as to what the homework tasks should be, and if homework actually improves learning.

Many well-established homework traditions just don't make sense in today's world, yet tradition dies hard.

  • We know that students differ in their "working speed", yet many teachers assign the same amount of work to all students, expecting slower students to simply take the extra time to finish the task.
  • We know that students have responsibilities and activities after school, yet many teachers assign homework at the end of one day and expect it back the next day.
  • Most U.S. teachers grade homework, (in other countries homework is graded much less often). Within a single school the percentage homework counts in a student's grade can vary from 10% to 80%! Yet teachers have no way of knowing if the student actually did the work, or if they have favorable conditions at home to do homework. Failing students for not completing homework unfairly punishes students who may be unable to work at home.

Due to the high failure rate from homework, more and more schools are implementing Homework Support Programs, which provide time and space for students to complete homework after school, during the school day, or on Saturdays. Many schools are also now setting building wide limits for the maximum percentage homework may count in the grade. (I recommend 10%)