Considering the Benefits of Homework

There have been discussion everywhere I have turned recently about the benefits of homework. This is a topic that has intrigued me as well as of late because I really have yet to decide how I feel about it. (For those interested here are some links to studies on homework which generally question its effectiveness. [1] [2] [3] [4])

The big question I always wonder about, for those questioning the benefit of homework or rejecting it all together, is what do you count as homework?

I don’t currently give specific worksheets to be completed nightly at home, but I do have some activities my students do at home.

  • Science Fair Experiment – they have time for some of the write up in class
  • Watching instructional videos (flipped videos) or taking notes at home after a lecture
  • Class activities that stretch into homework

If homework is generally ineffective, would these count as homework?

  • There is certainly an argument for changing how we do science fair, but that’s for another day.
  • I could move the flipped videos or notes copying to be during class time, but that sort of takes away form their purpose of giving me more time to work with students individually in class.
  • I could give even more extension activities for my students who complete work quickly so the others can have more time to finish in class, but I don’t think that would target the motivation issues that cause some of the students to take longer.

Am I doing a disservice to my students by having these activities at home?

Should I just be structuring at homework to be more student interest exploration rather than specific assignments?

Should I just have my students to leave class with an empty homework box in their planners each day?

I am not sure, but my biggest struggle is the question of whether there is a difference between homework as worksheets to be completed independently and what I currently have my students do.

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