Homework Conundrum

A colleague and I were wondering what type of homework works best for our students? How do we hold them accountable?
— N., California


In general, you have to be flexible and adapt to your classes. Different courses, units, and students will create different conditions for homework to be useful. Topics like balancing equations, math/physics word problems, genetics crosses, and others that follow an algorithm require practice and repetition. Projects that require more time than you can afford in class also can be done at home. Give students time in class to get their feet wet in a topic while you are there to provide support. This time is critical to ensure that the students understand what they are taking home and that you know where they are in their understanding.

Varying your approach will keep students on their toes. You can sometimes just do a check, other times collect homework papers and grade them. I often asked students to pull out their homework and I just walked around, giving them a small mark for completion. I might even give them partial credit for partially completing homework!

There are some concerns with work completed outside of class: students may copy from others; parents or siblings may ‘unteach’ your lessons; and students may have little free time outside of school. To mitigate these concerns, I rarely gave daily homework and almost never asked for work to be done in one night. This reduced pressure to copy, allowed students to plan around activities and time to ask me questions.

Hope this helps! 


Photo Credit: Tony Alter from Newport News, USA

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  1. Paulina
    Posted April 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Do you think that the type of homework that is given should directly mirror the work done in class so that students learn methodically or should it be more open ended so students are provoked to use insight?

  2. Gabe Kraljevic
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I think that homework can accomplish both! Reinforcing what is being done in the class and giving them time to think and explore a subject. Connecting activities in the class with something that a student is passionate about can easily be done at home and is likely very motivational.

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