Work for Home, Not Homework


My thinking on assigned homework:

There is very little value in assigning homework. The only way a student will learn anything unless their understanding of the HW topic jells because of the practice – highly unlikely!!! If they can’t do the homework, assigning more of the same is wasted in terms of learning. If they know how to do the material assigned, they will finish it quickly with very little learned. And if those not knowing find a student to copy from (or an answer book or some other source), no learning there.

So what happens if the homework is graded? Whether feedback is given or not, most will see only the grade. Those copying are rewarded for cheating themselves of learning. Those knowing how to do the work will get a good grade and probably not see the feedback, not review for improved understanding. Those totally lost will only get more desperate, cheat themselves more, and give up – slamming the course and/or teacher. ELIMINATE GRADES!!!

What is needed is NOT HW but WORK FOR HOME (WfH) – not the same thing! Students need to learn to assess their needs for effectively learning a topic: From teacher-facilitated work, teacher feedback, personal and study-group learning efforts (WfH?), personal gathering and considering of extra material (WfH?), assess what’s understood and what help is needed. Then the teacher can recommend extra efforts the student can do to improve – again, WfH!!!

Note the following: This approach to effective learning requires a number of efforts: (1) students helped to understand and accomplish effective learning; (2) teachers facilitating the skills of effective learning and self-assessment of accomplishments: (3) teachers providing useful and honest feedback; (4) teachers facilitating student skills for documentation of efforts made, analyzing those efforts, determining level of accomplishment, and knowing what additional teacher assistance is needed; and (5) working patiently with parents in order that they support this approach that is so different from their experiences.

No grading for this WfH – for the same reasons still applicable. I suggest the use of a student e-portfolio. Each student documents all efforts made to effectively learn the topic AND how the student self-assessed to determine that the learning has occurred. That e-portfolio (for all topics of course) is then utilized by the student to justify her/his proposed course grade – with grade determined by the teacher of course!!!


4 thoughts on “Work for Home, Not Homework

    • jcbjr9455

      Homework is assigned to everyone in the class – everyone is expected to complete and submit the assignment for grading (typically, though not always thankfully) and feedback (some times, increasingly more frequently hopefully). The problem is this: while some students really benefit from the assignment, I expect a larger fraction of the students are in one of two other groups: students who really gain little from the assignment because it is already clear on the efforts assigned; or students for who the lead-up to the assignment made no sense and so they get nothing out of the assignment because they can’t do it.

      “Work for Home” (W4H) has each student work with the teacher to determine their own needs and get appropriate work assigned for helping. There will be some students moving beyond the expectations aligned to standards because they are understanding. There will be some students getting extra baseline work because in-class facilitation was insufficient.

      Yes, W4H means wide variations in work submitted. My choice would be feedback, NO grades. The comparison of mismatched grades then evaporates. With no grades, either no HW / W4H component to course grading; OR an even better: no course grading whatsoever. Students keep an e-portfolio using work submitted and feedback to build a documentation of the learning accomplished.

      Thanks for your comments. Hope this helps.

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