It can be helpful. It can also be destructive.
There are many critics of homework, notably Alfie Kohn.
In his landmark book, The Homework Myth, he argues for the abolition of homework.
However, I think good homework has a place in every school. I say good, because unfortunately many teachers do set bad homework.
Guidelines to setting Good Homework:
1) According to education specialist, Dr. Marzano, homework plays a much significant role in the secondary level. Research shows it has a bigger impact on student performance.
2) Set reasonable homework tasks. The tasks should not occupy the evening of the student and make them go to bed late. They should still have time to unwind and interact with their families. I think 30 min should be the max for an assignment.
The task should also not be cumbersome and need too much materials or preparation. So having them make a diorama as homework is probably too much. Choose efficient homework that achieves your objectives much quicker.
3) The purpose of the homework should be clear to you and the student. The student should know why they are doing the task. Thus, as teachers, we should never give homework out of punishment, or if the task is just for fun.
The homework should be related to the syllabus and instructional objectives.
4) According to Cathy Vatterott, homework should not be about rote learning. It should deepen student understanding and build on essential skills.
5) Homework should be specific and the rubrics for it clearly explained to the students.
6) Always review and comment on the homework. Effective feedback is a hallmark of good teaching.
7) According to Dr. Douglas Reeves, teachers should try giving homework menus. A homework menu creates a series of choices for students that will provide opportunities for proficiency for all students and at the same time provide challenge to those already proficient. We all know choice is a core element of student motivation.
So a homework menu could consist of 3 columns of different homework tasks on the same topic, and then students get to choose 2 questions/problems from each column. Each column could have 10 questions/problems to solve.
In this manner, they won’t get overwhelmed and they are motivated since they are the ones doing the choosing instead of the teacher assigning everything all the time.
Your turn, what are your best practices to giving homework? How often and what criteria do you set for giving homework? Share them in the comments below 🙂