Saturday, February 6, 2016

More Homework ≠ More Learning

It's been a while since I've blogged, and it's because I've been working on my comprehensive exams for the past few weeks. I ended up doing a sort of Twitter-fast in the process, because I just did not have the time to devote to those connections and conversations, though I love them so much and find them so valuable for stirring my thinking.

Today, I decided to take a break from other homework and just scroll through my TweetDeck for a few minutes. It felt good to be back, like having a cup of coffee with a dear friend and catching up. (There is probably some commentary about my love of technology there...)

And...wouldn't you know it...? One of the very first tweets I saw was a retweet from my Twitterfriend, Erin Olson (whom you should be following, if you are a teacher)...

The piece that was linked in her retweet here was intriguing to me, since I have an ongoing axe to grind about crappy homework. Here was the tweet:

Friends, if you are convinced that homework is a good thing for kids, you really have to read this.

Here, I'll make it easy...just click this link: "Homework in primary school has an effect of zero."

Okay, I'll make it even are a few quotes from the piece. Just read these:
"Homework in primary school has an effect of around zero. In high school it’s larger. (…) Which is why we need to get it right." 
"It’s one of those lower hanging fruit that we should be looking in our primary schools to say, 'Is it really making a difference?'" 
"Certainly I think we get over obsessed with homework." 
"Five to ten minutes has the same effect of one hour to two hours." 
"The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects. The best thing you can do is to reinforce something you’ve already learnt."
These quotes come from an interview with John Hattie, an education researcher who has investigated over 130 influences on education and ranked them in order of the effect they have on student achievement (i.e., measurements of actual learning.) I've mentioned Hattie's list in an earlier blog post, where I noted that homework does make the list; it comes in at 88th place in terms of the effect it has on learning. There are so many other things we could (should?) be doing to improve student learning...why are we still assigning so much homework?

Let's get this right, my fellow educators: more homework does not mean more learning!

Image by David Mulder [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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