Quality Homework Tasks

The following excerpt is from:  Rethinking Homework, 2009, Cathy Batterott, ASCD,.

Designing quality homework tasks requires teachers to give attention to four main aspects, each of which has an impact on student motivation and perseverance.

1.  Academic purpose--Tasks should have a clear academic purpose.  Student often do not complete homeowrk because the task is not meaningful.  Teachers should ask themselves if the homework assigned is actually helping students learn, if it is not, then it lacks academic purpose.  One way to help students understand the purpose of homework is to share the reasons for the homework with them.

The reason for today’s homework is to…

  • Check whether you understand something you have already learned
  • Allow you to analyze something you have already learned
  • Allow you to reflect on your learning
  • Introduce new information to you that we will study soon.

2.  Competence:  Tasks should have a positive effect on a student’s sense of competence.  Homework should be designed to support classroom learning and to instill a sense of competence in the learner.  Homework that cannot be done without help is not productive homework.  Poor grades on homework contribute to students sense of failure.
3.  Ownership:  Tasks should be personally relevant and customized to promote ownership.  Students are often unmotivated to do homework because it is not perceived as important.  Research shows that homework should be inspired by students own interest.  They need opportunities to self-evaluate, to reflect, to set their own goals.  Quality homework allows for choices, offers students opportunities to personalize their work.  It allows students to share information about their lives, tap emotions on a subject, and to create products.
4.  Aesthetics--Tasks should be aesthetically pleasing.  This refers to the presentation of the task and how engaging it appears, uncluttered, visually appealing, and easy to understand.

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