One thing that almost every expert agrees on is that your student should be getting homework that reviews and reinforces the concepts that they learned in class that day. Experts also believe that homework should be something that instills a sense of curiosity in students; it is also a tool used to teach students how to study effectively. Studying effectively includes learning how to divide their time between hard and easy tasks, and how to test themselves so that they can see how much they have retained from the assignments. The main goal of homework is to turn your students into life long learners. However, the problem arises with the teachers that are in charge of assigning the homework. Most teachers have had no training when it comes to what kind of homework assignments are going to best benefit the students.
Here are some guidelines that are suggested by Harris Cooper, on what the most effective homework should do.
Number one: Mix it up
What this is talking about is the problems or questions that are on each homework assignment. The problems or questions themselves need to be mixed up so that the hard ones are not all in one spot nor are the easy ones. What teachers need to do is randomly place the easy and hard questions. This will help the children to feel like the work is easier; they do not have to do all of the hard stuff at once. However, this will also help make it more enjoyable for the students because they won’t be struggling over a certain section.
Number two: Specific needs
The homework assignments that are given to students need to be considered age appropriate. All too often teachers simply assign homework regardless of the child’s attention span. A good rule of thumb to follow is that only ten minutes of homework should be given per student’s grade level. This works because it gives younger students less homework, because they generally have the shortest attention spans. However, to help accommodate children that are high achievers, or gifted students, the amount and difficulty of the assignment can be adjusted upward.
Number three: Spread out over time
Sure, homework is supposed to be used to help review the concepts that the students learned in class during the day, but that does not always work out the best. The reason for that is that most students end up retaining more knowledge if they review the material in small repeated bursts over a period of several weeks rather than only reviewing it the day after they learned it. To be the most effective teachers should assign homework for a certain concept that the students are learning for a period of weeks, the subject should also be reviewed in class each day.
Number four: Outside class
Homework assignments are supposed to develop reading, writing, analysis, and critical thinking skills, but they can do a lot more. One thing that good homework does for students is it gets them to apply the new skills that they have learned to things that they enjoy outside of the classroom. By getting them, interested in applying the skills outside of the classroom the teachers will get the kids excited about learning and when the students are excited about learning they are more willing to learn new things and excel at the subjects that they are interested in.
The main point behind assigning homework besides having the students review what they have learned during the day, is to keep kids engaged in learning; this way they become lifelong learners.