Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Homework part 2

In my previous post and in the school newsletter I spoke about the value of homework, not necessarily in raising student achievement, but in setting good study habits and in allowing students to either practice newly acquired skills or prepare themselves for an upcoming lesson or do some extension work out of class.

In following this up I want to indicate that there are three types of academic homework that can be done.

         1. Practice homework.  This is work designed to reinforce newly acquired skills and is very important  in the early years of school and whenever new skills are being learnt such as in mathematics.  Spelling homework, reading activities, English skills, learning specific vocabulary for a specialist subject also fall into this category.

         2. Preparation homework. 
This is work designed to get students ready for activities that will be done in the classroom.  This becomes more important in the older years especially when in English for example a novel is being read and students need to read a chapter before class.  Without doing this preparation the classwork is largely ineffective and most likely confusing.  Other activities include studying for a test, watching a video, reading an article, viewing a webpage.

     3. Extension homework.  This either builds  on work done in the classroom or is a longer term assignment that parallels work being done in the classroom.

All three of these types of homework have value and teachers will often use all three at different times.  In my Grade 9/10 Geography classes at the moment I am using ‘preparation style’ homework, where students are asked to view something before class so that they have had a chance to think about the topic before we discuss it.  This is a  very typical type of homework in the post secondary years of training and education.

How much homework is too much?  

The research paper commissioned by the Queensland Education Department concluded that: “The number of out-of-school hours per day spent on homework is positively related to student academic achievement but reaches a point where too much appears to be detrimental” (page 4 and 11 Homework Literature review).

So overall it seems that some homework is better than none at all, but the work needs to be responsive to the students age and development.  On my blog I have placed a poll about homework that I invite parents to respond to.   It is found at the bottom of this blog page.  

Please feel free to leave comments about homework as the school seeks to re-establish productive homework attitudes and habits in the coming year.  

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