Diagnosing Homework Completion Problems

When it comes to figuring out how to get students to complete homeowrk, it is important to first diagnose why the homework is not getting done in the first place.  

According to Vatterott, 2009, on p. 126 of Rethinking Homework, there are typically five reasons why students do not do homework:

  • “Academic–Task too hard or too lengthy for the student’s working speed
  • Organizational–Getting it home, getting it done, getting it back
  • Motivational–Burnout, overload, too much failure, frustration with tasks
  • Situational–Unable to work at home, too many other activities, no materials available at home for the assignment
  • Personal–Depression, anxiety, family problems, or other personal issues”

Once the reasons for lack of homework completion are specifically diagnosed, then proactive and strategic plans can be put into place to support your students.

One strategy is called “Homework Chain” and it is used for students with ADHD who have difficulty with organization.  Try to work through this with a student that you suspect may have a series of gaps or links in this chain of homework completion.

Homework Chain:  Which links are weak or broken?

  • Realize an assignment has been given
  • Understand the assignment
  • Record the assignment accurately
  • Understand how to perform the assignment correctly
  • Check to bring correct books home
  • Arrive home with materials and the homework assignment
  • Begin the homework session
  • Complete all homework
  • Check that it is complete, accurate, and neat
  • Set completed homework in a special place
  • Take completed homework to school
  • Arrive at class with completed homework
  • Turn completed homework in on time

Source:  From Motivating the Uncooperative Student:  Redeeming Discouragement and Attitude Problems by John Taylor, 2007.


Student Homework Feedback (Attach to homework)
How much time did you spend on this assignment?    __________minutes
If you did not complete this assignment, please check the reasons why below.
_____I could no longer focus on the task
_____I was too tired
_____I did not understand the assignment
_____I did not have the necessary materials to finish the assignment
_____I did not have enough time due to outside activities
_____Other reason (please explain)


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