Archive for October, 2011

As an educator I have increasingly been amazed around the debate of homework. It has always been a sore point for students, teachers and parents. However, the debate can finally be put to rest. The data is out…..

Professor John Hattie in his meta-analysis of data on the effects of student achievement, places homework at a prominent position within his league table. Below is the first half of his table.

Effect Size Table - John Hattie

Please note: Statistically anything over a 0.4 is an above average result in the world of educational research. Effect Size is directly related to the overall incremental achievement on a student for their learning.

Click here to download a copy of his Effect Size Table

What is most interesting in examining homework, is that the research states that this 0.43 effect size is equivalent to a jump of one year at a grade level. So what are the important aspects of homework?

Repetition, drill and rote learning have been the major techniques used over the century for student improvement, and traditionally it would make up the majority of the actual homework. However, does or should it still look like this in the 21st Century?

Homework today is and has taken on a radical re-design, whereby educators are looking to find more meaningful ways to not only engage children in homework, but to bring the work from home into the learning of the classroom and drive the actual curriculum. What are the aims behind homework today?

  1. Homework is used to source meaningful information and resources for tomorrow’s lessons in class. Here it is used to personalise the curriculum for the individual student’s needs. Particularly when working in an IB or enquiry based curriculum.
  2. It opens students up to other sources of information and information gathering, for example the local library, embassy, travel agent etc….
  3. Homework activities teach students to engage with the local community and to develop and foster interpersonal skills when investigating primary sources.
  4. It encourages family members to help engage with, model and promote a greater importance of how the student envisages school, particularly in their attitude towards their overall learning.
  5. It opens students up to activities not able to be accessed at school, which could be interest based activities children engage in outside of school hours, Scouts, Airforce Cadets and/or their own personal enquiry based projects etc…
Ultimately, what educators today are trying to develop in their students are a set of skills for tomorrow’s world and to make learning both at school and home meaningful.
Underlying to the re-imaging of homework in today’s world are still the skills of improving personal, organisational and time management skills. Developing a pattern of behaviour for study that is intrinsically motivating for students to continually achieve is more attainable than ever.
Gone are the days;
  • when repetition, rote and drill learning take up the majority of homework time for our students,
  • or where study sessions are given for whole classes to complete tasks independently,
  • or when homework is given because of parental pressure,
  • or where traditionally homework is given out for homework’s sake.
As an educator, next time you give out homework think about what the implications are of the choice of homework for your students.


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