What Type of Homework is Actually Beneficial?

By Sarah Bugay

Homework is a staple within the school system built in place in order to reinforce strategies and concepts students learn within school when they go back home. However, not all homes for students are created equally, which begs the question: is homework supporting our students who do not have supports in place when they leave the school grounds? Or is this simply one more stresser in their lives?

Home and family mean different things to different people and while as educators, we understand that our students have different backgrounds, are we doing our students who have chaotic home lives an injustice by not catering our teaching practices to the students we are serving?

If we are assigning a book report or a project, aren’t we, as teachers, assuming students either have the technology at home or they have the time and ability to travel somewhere where there is technology to provide the ability to effectively complete the project.

Robert Pondiscio, Director of CitizenshipFirst, stated in Poor Students Need Homework Too that his former students in the South Bronx benefited from “…thoughtful, well-crafted homework, especially in reading” and that it remains an “…essential gap-closing tool.”

While I agree that homework is an important and vital reinforcement tool for students in ensuring they are practicing the skills which they are learning during the day, at home. However, I think it is also a disservice to fail to consider students’ home lives in the assignment and grading of homework.

The Center for Public Education cited research which debunked the myths that homework increases academic achievement, without excessive homework students will not have internationally competitive test scores, and that those who question homework want to weaken curriculum and pander to students’ laziness.

Within my own classroom, I have attempted to balance high expectations with understanding my students’ home lives, I take more into consideration effort rather than accuracy within our homework system. This system seems to work well within my class as my students are working to attempt the work at home. Beyond this, on the back of their homework, students can write to me about what types of supplies they may require at home to complete the homework, like a pencil and scrap paper.

About JHU School of Ed

SOETalk is an outlet for news, information, commentary and debate on the world of education with a focus on what affects students, prospective students and alumni of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.

2 Responses to What Type of Homework is Actually Beneficial?

  1. Janice Minyon December 2, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    I was a teacher that worked for the Success for All Foundation. When the project was ended I went back to the classroom in inner city Houston. I continued to work on an academic program that would take 13 year old 4th grader who could not read, write or compute any mathematical computations. I succeeded in creating methodology for teaching reading, math ,science, and social studies that works for all inner city children. My class every year was referred to by the faculty as the class from “Hell”. I had 28 students and all but two were classified as “Special Ed” so that these children would not have a negative effect on the principal’s bonus check. In my last class The highest reader was performing on the second week of 2nd grade, the lowest child was reading on the first 6 weeks of second grade. All grew in many years and most were on grade level. I am saddened to see that my 18 years of working on this problem with great success everything that I learned will die with me. I would love to give my findings to someone who would pass them to our teachers in inner city and rural schools. One thing I learned that really helped was that I learned from my brother that he left his high school years with a diploma and he could not a word. He was called in the last draft for Vietnam. He went down to sign up and when he took their tests he could do anything that he was required to read but was over the top on the electrical and mechanical. He was sent to Germany to repair computers. He took reading lessons and he could sit and read War and Peace. Unfortunately he did not know what the words meant. That is something that is more common than what we care to believe. When he left the Army he went to Penn State and got a degree in physics. So as you can see children who cannot read in many of our schools it is because they were never were taught in a way that they could understand. This is something that I know how to fix. I used two things from Success for All. I used the cheers and putting my students in partnerships with the ability to have partner 1 read and have partner 2 summarize and partner 2 reads and partner 1 summarizes.

  2. Janice Minyon December 2, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    San Antonio, Texas

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