Thursday, March 22, 2007

Questions and Thoughts about Homework

As I was reading the article for today, I agreed with some aspects about homework, but disagreed about others, which I guess is the whole point! My views on homework have changed quit a bit this year. In chemistry I used to assign the homework from the book that is assigned each night from our common calendar that each chemistry teacher uses. Most of the questions in the book that were assigned were terribly worded and confusing…I was just assigning homework to assign homework. I rarely assign “homework” unless I feel that the extra practice is necessary to help them learn the concept.

In my freshman classes however, I assign more homework than I do in chemistry. In contrast to the article, I still feel that homework does demonstrate something about responsibility. The article disagreed with this and I guess that is what I struggle with. Most of my little assignments that I give in ERE are categorized as “responsibility” in my grade book. There are a few assignments that I have split up the point values and allow the students to re-do to get points back on the “content knowledge” grade category.

I do think that the homework given should focus on enhancing the learning, but I also get frustrated with our common assessments because I feel that I am just “teaching to a test”, rather than helping the students learn the main ideas that are important in chemistry and ERE. But this brings up another point, what ideas ARE important in chemistry? Is it to relate it to real life, to prepare them for college science courses, or to help them understand the material on the test? This then opens a whole new can of worms, which is “are we assessing the right information? What is important for the students to learn?

I guess I really don’t know where I stand with the homework issue…maybe somewhere in the middle. I think the homework assigned also depends on the type of class and material being covered. By not assigning homework though, are we asking the students to get the new information, understand this information and apply it in a 55 min class period?