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What teachers should keep in mind when assigning homework.
Homework is often met with sighs and low motivation. This is no surprise as the school day is often jam-packed with a curriculum that is a challenge to complete! Therefore, it is important to consider the homework-student relationship to ensure that assigned homework is actually effective!
Each class, subject and teacher is unique and therefore not every suggestion may be applicable to all. However, we would like to encourage you to consider the following when assigning homework…
1. Time spent on Homework: The relationship between homework and achievement is a positive one but it is important to note that although homework seems to be beneficial to academic development it is however not a decisive factor of better levels of achievement (Trautwein, 2007). Homework doesn’t always guarantee better school marks – especially when children are already pushed to their limits during the school day. Giving a child who struggles at school, more and more work is not necessarily the best road forward. Consider ‘homework rest days’ where children are encouraged to spend time playing and resting when they get home. You will almost definitely have a more energised and balanced child walk through your classroom doors the next day! After all, it is all about balance!
2. Frequency: This relates to the point made above. It has been found that in schools where teachers gave more frequent and large homework assignments had better student outcomes that schools which assigned little homework (Epstein, 1988). It is important to note that outcomes do not only refer to academic achievement but other skills necessary for school development. Frequent homework allows children to develop their planning, organisation and time management skills! When assigning homework, do not just consider achievement but also other skills needed for a child roto reach their full potential!
3. Parental involvement: Parental involvement in children’s homework appears to influence student outcomes because it offers modeling, reinforcement, and instruction that supports the development of attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours associated with successful school performance (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1995). Parent involvement is crucial for a child’s development. When assigning homework, consider creative ways to get parents or adults involved! Scaffolding helps children to build “I can do it” attitudes which foster resilience and problem-solving skills within a warm and safe environment.
4. Negative Homework emotions: There is a strong link between homework and negative emotions (Burnett & Fanshawe, 1997; Leone & Richards, 1989) and therefore homework motivation and a positive outlook on homework needs to be encouraged and facilitated. When assigning homework, make sure that your students know why they have been given extra work. When possible, try to make homework fun by being creative and promoting positive associations (Pinterest is usually a good place to start – check out our link for some ideas). Homework as ‘punishment’ is usually ineffective and simply reinforces the negative emotion cycle towards homework.
5. Low achievement – negative emotion relationship: A study indicated that negative homework emotions are closely associated with achievement indicators. Importantly, there seems to be a reciprocal relationship. It is therefore important to encourage low achieving students and provide them with appropriate support to complete homework (Cooper, 1989). Like we previously stated, students who struggle in class will most probably struggle with homework at home. In order to build resilience and positive schoolwork emotions – make sure these students have the necessary tools/supports to complete their homework. This may mean assigning them homework that looks a little different to the rest of the class (Maybe even make it a little easier). Help build their homework confidence and slowly challenge them each week until they are back on par with the rest of their class.
Homework has many pro’s and challenges and it is important to find the right balance for your class and students. Homework can be more than completing ‘work not done’ in class or trying to finish the curriculum. Homework has the potential to promote the development of a number of other skills as well as build resilience in children!