Homework: Who is Responsible?
Students always complain about their homework and it doesn’t matter whether they are school or university students. Homework has always been a stumble stone in our lives. Sleepless nights, less time spent with friends, called off parties, unembodied dreams and plans. And it’s all because of unreasonable amount of homework. But have you ever thought about how many assignments should we get? What is the purpose of it? These and many other questions still have no answers. Just stop for a minute and think –is it you or your teacher who turns homework into a nightmare? Should we refuse it or find a way to make it less painful? Nowadays a lot of schools and universities start thinking about abandoning homework. Recent research has shown that about 74% of people are against any assignments and they would be glad if the government passed the law abolishing homework. Isn’t it great? Or this fact horrifies you? Yes, we are sick and tired of these monotonous hours spent on reading, researching, writing and remembering. However the problem may lie not in the students’ attitude, but in teacher’s obsession to give as much homework as possible without considering that students have life outside the school or university. That is why this article may interest a lot of teachers and help them to rethink their homework demands.
What is the reason?
Firstly, let’s think of the purpose of homework. Why do we have to overload our students with tones of writing exercises or research projects? Teachers claim that in order to be effective, homework should fulfil a few purposes. The first is for the general purpose of practice. Homework can’t be used as a tool to present new material; only as a preparation for the further topic. Also practice should be both valuable and necessary. But it should stay realistic. Why give 100 questions if you know that 20 will be enough to cover the topic? The second essential purpose of homework is to prepare students for the new upcoming topic. Give them some articles to read at home, or suggest watching the video related to your next class. It will be interesting for students and at the same time it will ease the process of understanding new information.
Don’t forget about the response
Secondly, provide your students with the corresponding feedback. Doing a homework assignment and receiving no feedback is pointless as well as disappointing. The influence of a homework assignment depends on the immediate feedback. How you should do it:
- Assign the homework (don’t forget about the reasonable amount)
- Give time limits – be realistic, don’t overload your students with projects or “War and Peace” reading due to tomorrow. You will never get their homework done. Many students have part-time jobs and take part in after-school sports or activities. All these need a lot of student's time. Be understanding to all students’ interests outside their studying life, and make your homework assignments adjustable to their schedules.
- Collect homework and grade it in time. Don’t waste the time. If you collect homework in January, but check it only in March, students will never take your class seriously an you will have problems with their attitude
- Comment on the homework. Students should see that you also spent some time on their tasks, analyzed them and made some conclusion. It will be useful for them to see their mistakes and helpful for you to make the teaching process easier
All these aspects of an appropriate feedback to students proved to be one of the best motivation factors.
Almost every teacher heard from his students “It’s boring!”. Don’t be discouraged by this, just make some inferences. Many students define homework as punishment or redundancy. Even at university, when they start being grownups, they hate it and procrastination becomes their best friend. Even though there is a definite need for homework practice, it doesn’t mean that it has to be stuffed with drilling practice. Instead, dilute those assignments with some unusual approaches connected with real world. In our highly developed technological world there are so many ways to turn homework into an interesting adventure. To develop students’ writing skills ask them to write one-page report on the TV program they watch in the evening, or to encourage them reading and to improve their art skills ask them to make a colorful poster advertising the book they’ve recently read and write a review about it for some magazine or local newspaper. Don’t be afraid to be creative, encourage your students, try to understand them and you will never fail with the homework.