What is homework when students are working from home?

March 12, 2021
What is homework when students are working from home all day long? At Colegio Menor,  we have been discussing how to answer this question during virtual learning, when all school work is  actually “homework.”

At the leadership team level, we discussed aligning our thinking to research-based practices that demonstrate limited or no learning gains for requiring work to be completed after class activities and assignments are finished. While we recognize the need for some long term projects to be worked on outside of class sessions and that advanced level high school classes will require further preparation and study, student well-being requires students to be able to manage their workload in a healthy and competent way, which requires avoiding the compiling of extended hours engaging in “homework.”. The single most productive “homework” assignment appears to be reading for pleasure as a key element for academic success and cognitive development. 

Activities during class should focus on the purpose of the assignment; what should students be able to do? The learning objective should be clear and the experiences related to this objective should allow time for instruction, practice and application to demonstrate understanding. The time required to complete the work should be both reasonable and aligned with the stated purpose of the learning activities. Whether students find activities meaningful is key to student achievement, assignment completion, motivation and socio-emotional health (see references at end of this blog for further reading).

When work is assigned beyond the class session,  the activities should relate to objectives from the class session and provide reinforcement of concepts already taught or should serve as a basis for further study and future class activities. The work should allow students to practice, explore, and apply skills already learned as well as to make mistakes and figure things out, develop independent study skills and strengthen self-discipline. 

For more research on student learning, emotional well-being and the impact of homework on both of these, see the Stanford University Education School research website on this topic:https://www.challengesuccess.org/ 

For a recent article on the issue of homework with five guiding questions to make homework a valuable experience and not overwhelming, see the Washington Post article below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/09/01/does-homework-work-when-kids-are-learning-all-day-home/

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