Research with data and analysis
Alber, Sheila R., Nelson, Janet S., & Brennan, Kathleen B.
(2002) A comparative analysis of two homework study
methods on elementary and secondary school students'
acquisition and maintenance of social studies content.
Educational Treatment of Children vol.25 no.2, (pp, 172-196).
This article explains an experiment conducted by the researchers
using two different study methods for social studies homework. The
authors found that the structured reading worksheet method that
required students to find and write 12 to 24 fill-in-the-blank items
paraphrased from the assigned homework reading showed better quiz
results and longer maintenance of the social studies content, as
measured by an end of unit test. This method is similar to one that I
use with my own students and reaffirms for me that 4th and 5th grade
students cannot “just study” on their own without direction, in this
case a structured worksheet. In my own classroom I have also
discovered a high correlation between students who complete the
worksheets and success on quizzes. That is the main reason that I
continue to assign such homework.
Bryan, Tanis H., & Sullivan-Burstein, Karen (1998). Teacher-
selected strategies for improving homework completion.
Remedial and Special Education, vol. 19 no.5, (pp. 263-275).
Three studies are reported in which the authors worked
collaboratively with teachers across a 2-year period to systematically
assess strategies to improve spelling and math homework completion
and weekly quiz performance. Their conclusions included three
strategies that resulted in significant increases in homework
completion: (a) giving students real-life assignments (i.e.,
assignments that connected homework to events or activities in the
home) plus reinforcements, (b) using homework planners, and (c)
graphing homework completion.
Again, I am intrigued by the technological possibilities for graphing
homework completion. I wonder if this will increase student
motivation? The research cited in the article confirms that many
students responded to the visual display of completed assignments, as
well as opportunities to work on this graphing in a peer group.
Cooper, Harris, Jackson, Christina, Nye, Barbara and Lindsay,
James J. (2001) A model of homework’s influence on the
performance evaluations of elementary school students The
Journal of Experimental Education vol. 69, no. 2, (p. 181-199)
Research done by this group of authors concluded that the
completion of a homework assignment involves the complex
interaction of more influences than any other pedagogical technique.
Students’ individual differences in both learning style and behavior
play a role in determining whether or not they will complete
homework. Students take cues from peers as well as their home
environment in deciding on the importance of completing homework
tasks. Teachers, therefore, structure and monitor homework
assignments in a wide variety of methods.
Their complex, data-driven results obtained from this study showed
the importance of family attitude toward homework completion, as
well as the necessity of variety in assignments and student motivation.
The family involvement aspect is a challenging one for me and my
teaching situation. Over and over the research tells how important
positive parental attitude is for my students in their pursuit of learning,
especially in the area of homework. The authors reinforce the concept
of taking individual differences in students into account for all
homework assignments, which is a challenge I intend to accept as part
of this yearlong research effort. Classroom grades were predicted by
the amount of homework completed, student ability and the amount of
Work done by others in the field of homework in elementary
Corno, Lyn (2000) Looking at homework differently. The
Elementary School Journal vol. 100 no.5, (pp.529-548).
The author believes that homework tasks are changing (or should
be), from the traditional reading, writing and math assignments to a
task that “infiltrates family and peer dynamics and the nature of
teaching in community organizations as well as in school.” She sees a
unique role for homework in a modern era to provide social
communication and contact among peers, especially peers who live
beyond the neighborhood school, thereby increasing a sense of
community. She also maintains that students develop an aptitude for
future homework from the regularities of homework ongoing.
This thinking causes me to expand my idea of appropriate tasks to
assign for my 4th and 5th graders as homework. Possibly attempting to
assign work that requires some family and peer interaction will result
in more participation. It also reinforces my thinking that homework is
necessary at this level to help students develop discipline and aptitude
that they can carry with them as homework requirements increase.
Truscott, Diane M. (1998) Can we make homework motivating?
The New England Reading Association Journal vol. 34 no. 3,
This writer discusses the idea of cooperative learning strategies to
improve homework completion in elementary students. Specifically,
the idea of using student homework teams is explained, as well as
guidelines for the implementation of these teams. In her words, “Bad
homework is characterized as work that is tedious, boring, and
disconnected to the next day’s learning.” She concludes that there are
basically three good reasons why a teacher might assign students to
work on school tasks at home: for independent practice of new skills,
for tasks that require extended time, and to increase home-school
partnerships. This seems to reinforce the conclusions of Corno in her
article on looking at homework differently.
The organization of the homework teams is intriguing. There may
be some ways to incorporate technology in the computing of team
averages and posting of scores. The responsibility for homework
(including the checking and tracking) rests with the students in their
respective groups. There are chances for “mini lessons” in how to
accomplish the homework tasks as well as review sessions for re-
teaching when necessary. I like this idea and I can see some
possibilities for implementation in my classroom as well as some ways
that technology could help manage it.
Web site: Encouraging Student Academic Motivation
This site is maintained by a group of educators under the heading
Intervention Central, and contains a list of what they describe as
alternative ideas for promoting student motivation. The six topics are
common sense ideas that have been covered in other articles I’ve
read, and therefore reinforce some of those good strategies. The link
to homework on the site includes the idea of providing an audience for
student work, which was one of the areas I was considering as a
possible technology application for my research project.
Hong, Eunsook, and Roberta M. Milgram. Homework: Motivation
and Learning Preference. N.p.: Bergin & Garvey, 2000.
This book describes the major difference between learning in school
and learning at home as the fact that the learner has choices not only
about whether to do the homework at all, but also about the
circumstances and surroundings in which to do it. The authors state
that their book is the first to report on a new direction in research on
homework, one that distinguishes between learning at school and
learning at home, and focuses not on the homework assignments, but
the child doing the homework. They discuss the students’ cognitive
style, school learning style and home learning style as essential
elements of successful homework experiences.
Web site: from About.com Homework tips
This web site advertises homework help, including sections and links
for motivation, procrastination and daily habits. It is aimed at older
students (5th grade and higher), but includes lots of practical
information. The site is typical of many that I found as I searched for
homework links. It reinforces the concepts outlined in my other
readings regarding the types of motivation and interventions that are
effective in working with elementary students and homework issues,
including methods for organization.
Huntsinger, Carol (1999) Does K-5 homework mean higher test
scores? American Teacher vol. 83, no. 7, (p. 4)
The author takes the position that well-chosen homework, even at
the elementary level, reduces stress and facilitates learning. She
bases her conclusions on a four-year longitudinal study of 80 families.
Her study results showed that children who did considerable homework
academically competent than, and as psychologically well adjusted as,
children who did little or no homework in the early grades. It appears
that children benefit from more practice on basic skills outside school.
This helps to reaffirm my belief that homework can and should be an
integral part of the learning that goes on inside (and outside) my
classroom. This author uses a math example, stating that “When faced
with higher-level problems, children who have the math facts “down
cold” expend less mental effort on calculation and devote more mental
effort to solving the problem.” I concur with this observation, having
seen strong support among my own students, some of whom complete
their homework assignment to study times tables and some who do
not. It’s easy to see the difference in ability to problem solve between
these two groups.
Callahan, Kevin, Rademacher, Joyce A, et al (1998) The Effect of
Parent Participation in Strategies to Improve the Homework
Performance of Students Who Are at Risk, Remedial & Special
Education vol. 19, (pp. 131-141)
The effect of teaching parents of at-risk students to facilitate a
home-based self-management program to improve homework
performance and academic achievement was investigated in this
study. Results indicated
that overall levels of homework completion and homework quality
increased significantly for those students whose parents consistently
implemented the 10-week homework program outlined in the article.
Significant increases in mathematics achievement also occurred.
Once again, this article reinforced the clear connection between
home and school in bringing about success in the area of homework
performance. The program described here was aimed at middle school
students and therefore would not be a perfect fit for my class, but
several of the concepts to increase parent participation and
accountability would have relevance if scaled to meet elementary
needs. The application of a program for at risk students appealed to
me, since my school population falls into this category.