Homework: a Three-Way Assessment<br />Student – Parent - Teacher<br />1584960161290<br />Pros vs.Cons<br />456565116205346202057785<br />3462020192405184785201930<br />DAVID JAMES CORAM<br />JUNE 24, 2010<br />AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERISITY, MURRIETA CAMPUS<br />CITATION and PERMISSION<br />Azusa Pacific University<br />Department of Advanced Studies in Education<br />School of Education and Behavioral Studies<br />Citation and Permission<br />Author: David James Coram<br /> <br /> Title: Homework: a Three-Way Assessment<br />An unpublished report presented in a colloquium on Research for Educators at Azusa Pacific University, California. Date: June 24, 2010.<br />Limited Permission to Photocopy<br />I give permission to faculty in the School of Education and Behavioral Studies at Azusa Pacific University to make limited photocopies of this unpublished research report. I understand that the limited photocopies of my research report may be made available only as reading models for other teachers and educators engaged in educational research and that the content of my paper may be used only in discussions among other teachers and educators on ways of designing and reporting educational research. No part of this report may be reproduced for other purposes without the written permission of the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.<br />____________________________ __________________<br />SignatureDate<br />DEDICATION and ACKNOWLDGEMENT<br />Upon deep reflection, there are many persons to whom I could dedicate this research project. The list is really endless and could include past professors, teachers and mentors. Many of us tend to consider our parents, a cousin, uncle or an aunt who took care of us through our youth or some trial and tribulation. For those of us who are religious, we look to that mentor, priest, monk, pastor, rabbi and in many instances God, who truly does deserve the credit and dedication. When I look deeper into myself and really dig down I considered my first wife whom I lost in an auto accident or my mother who was sick throughout my high school years passing away at the age of 52 when I was just 21. I considered my four children who justly deserve this dedication, but when I finally got through the list it really just boiled down to one person. That person who has been there day in and day out for the past 20 years, for better or worse when I was a jerk and not, even though it was a jerk more often than not. That person is my wife Corinna. I want to dedicate this project and thank her for the support she has provided in so many ways to which words alone could not come close to doing justice.<br />I would also like to acknowledge and thank two key participants to which without, I would not have been able to complete this research project. The first person I would like to thank is Randi Riggs for providing me a method to perform my research to which would have been far tougher to accomplish without her help. Randi, also being an English teacher, provided her invaluable skills as a mechanism of support, reviewing the research materials and the final work product assuring its quality and consistency. Secondly, I would like to thank Mrs. Lisa Musick a peer who has provided her invaluable editing skills to ensure that the final product meets with the professional standards of the Teaching Profession and that of Azusa Pacific University Masters of Education Program. <br />ABSTRACT<br />Homework going back to the early days of this country and since the 1700 s has been a controversial topic in education. Many new teachers moving into this profession, as well as those long ingrained into it continued to have questions about as this controversial topic. In this research project I dig into three differing perspectives: the student, the teacher, and the parent to reveal the similarities and differences between their perceptions of homework at the high school level. I also delved into the merits of homework and what forms of homework students believe to have a greater meaning for them.<br />The research as described focused focuses on three focus groups: students, teachers and parents. Each focus group received a slightly varied survey to complete. The data from these surveys were categorized based upon the research question. From this process of categorizing the data, several student focus groups were interviewed for gathering additional information. Additionally, spontaneous interviewing of parents, teachers and students occurred as the opportunity presented itself. <br />Upon completion of categorizing the data, an analysis and reflection of the data was performed summarizing and interpreting what the data represents. From this application of the data, it was summarized as to application of the results for the teacher, school and district. The result of this research provides insight into the homework perspective from the student, teacher and parent and whether a particular method, subject or volume thereof makes a difference toward student learning.<br />TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />INTRODUCTION1<br />BACKGROUND3<br />Personal Contexts3<br />Review of the Literature4<br />Assumptions and Beliefs6<br />Research Question and Approach7<br />STUDY DESIGN9<br />Participants9 <br />Setting for Study9<br />Activities for Participants10<br />Methods of Data Collection and Data Analysis………………………………..10<br />Findings and Analyses13<br />Findings from Student Questionnaire13<br />Findings from Parent Questionnaire16<br />Findings from Teacher Questionnaire19<br />Findings from Student Focus Groups and Individual Interviews21<br /> Overall Findings23<br />DISCUSSION OF RESULTS27<br />New Insights into my Teacher Role27<br />New Insights into the Students, Parents and Teachers28<br />New Insights into my Theoretical Beliefs29<br />Reflections on Ethical Issues30<br />Applications31<br />Next Steps of Inquiry32<br />Limitations33<br />CONCLUSION35<br />APPENDICES37<br />REFERENCES50<br />INTRODUCTION<br />It was just another Tuesday afternoon this past January when I left my house and headed toward the middle school where my sixth grade daughter and eighth grade son attend school. It was another beautiful southern California winter afternoon. As usual the traffic around the school during this time was hectic but orderly. As I pulled into a park parking lot right next to the school, I observed my daughter and son standing on the edge of the parking lot patiently waiting for me.<br />“How was your day?” I asked my kids as they climbed into the truck. Cars lined up in front of their middle school to pick students in a hectic but orderly fashion. My sixth grade daughter and eighth grade son selected their seat according to the number of their birthday while placing books and other school supplies on the car seat. After each briefly giving their version of the day, my son saying “great” and my daughter “okay,” we moved on to the next question. “Do you have any homework?” I asked. My son said, “Nope got it all done in advisement.” My daughter said, “Yep, math, science, and reading.”<br />As they decided (based upon their birthday daughter odd, son even day) who gets to sit in the front seat of my extended cab pickup I remember just telling them to get in as the cars started to line up behind me to exit the parking lot. As we headed home our daily conversation ensued which nearly always includes the standard question: “how was your day?” After each briefly giving their version of the day, my son saying “great” and my daughter “okay,” we moved on to the next question. “Do you have any homework?” My son said, “Nope got it all done in advisement.” My daughter said, “Yep, math, science, and reading.” I’d like to say this was odd, but this seemed to be the daily pattern. Almost without change I ask my kids on the way home about homework with my eighth grade son more often having no homework, while my sixth grade daughter usually has one-two hours every night. I find it highly odd as a parent and a new teacher that one child has so much homework and is barely passing her classes, while the other has relatively no homework and earns all B’s and A’s.<br />Based upon this odd phenomenon, I decided to research the task of homework. My reasoning was I hoped to discover why this is occurring occurs and why homework seemed to be so unbalanced between the grades. Being primarily a high school substitute teacher, I thought I would begin at the high school level for this research project and if the opportunity arises, perhaps in the future, expand my research into the middle and possibly the elementary school grade levels. <br />After deep consideration and limited access to high school students, I decided on a series of questionnaires to give dimension to my results: high school students ninth through twelfth grades), high school teachers, and the corresponding parents of those students. The questionnaires would be slightly different from the other. My thoughts include an attempt to find the differing perspectives of the three subject groups as to their points of view of homework, what forms of homework may be more beneficial for the student, and what are the expectations are as to the participation of each in the homework process. Should parents help or not with homework, do teachers need to review (grade) and follow up with each student (if so, how) and what expectations do teachers and parents have for their student/child to complete the homework?<br />BACKGROUND<br />Personal Context for Study<br />Thinking about my own high school days and before, I remember being diligent about completing my homework without parental coercion or daily reminders. Very seldom do I remember my parents helping me with it or me asking them for help. As an athlete from fourth grade and beyond I knew if I wanted to play ball that I had to complete it or I could be dropped from the team. I clearly remember projects that I had to complete at home, being graded and returned, but as to daily homework I can’t remember any of it being returned with a grade other than perhaps a check mark placed at the top. <br />When I think about teachers having five to six classes a day with 30-40 students in each, I don’t see how it is humanly possible for a teacher to review, mark, grade and record 150 to 240 individual pieces of homework daily five days a week for 36 weeks. This, of course, does not include additional student work such as tests, assessments, projects and everything else teachers have students prepare to show their understanding of the content, which needs to be reviewed, marked, graded and recorded during the week, month and school year.<br />With all of these items piling atop the other for the teacher, what homework is really worth doing producing for and by the student? Does every piece need to be graded? Will students do the homework if they don’t get a grade? These basic homework questions are asked frequently but the answers are as bewildering as the numerous as the various angles people contemplate and attempt to answer them. The reason for this research paper is not to answer all of these subject questions, but to try and ascertain if there is some common ground as to what type and/or form of homework, what subject(s) and what amount of homework accomplishes the goal of what homework is supposed to accomplish. That is provide a method for higher learning, reinforce / solidify earlier learning and prepare a student for future learning. <br />Review of the Literature<br />So where do I go from here? Being a parent, a new teacher, as well as a student for more years than I want to count, I thought the first logical step would be expand beyond what I currently know and believe about homework. I need to widen the spectrum of information beyond what I believe and know for myself. I thought that the internet would be a good first step in finding foundational information on what others have already discovered. This would help me fill in some gaps as well as help me to focus my research direction. I spent numerous hours getting a feel for what other education professionals thought and believed about homework. This research solidified my belief that this topic was truly an issue of value with to polarizing sides against each other. <br />The differences of these two sides are extreme, with one side holding firm that homework is a waste of time and does not support learning. The other side is fighting just as boldly stating that homework is utilized as method of higher learning expanding beyond the school by providing the student the tools to continue their learning process on their own thus preparing them for the future. At minimum those educators in favor of homework see it as a tool to reinforce those lessons taught in school either that day or prior to.<br />As I prepared to perform my research, I knew that I had to learn more as to homework and the beliefs and traditions surrounding it. Yes, I did have my own point of view from my own experiences and that of my children, but I knew I needed to widen that knowledge base. Therefore I read several books that provided historical, political, social issues, and methodical perspectives on homework. In The End of Homework by Etta Kralovec and John Buell (2000), the authors provide an historical and political culture surrounding homework in public schools. They are clearly opposed to the benefits of daily doses of homework for the student. To this end, it affirmed my belief that I held prior to the start of this research project. <br />The next book I utilized as part of my research was Closing the Book on Homework, by John Buell (2004). This book was heavy on the history of homework in this country since the inception of public schools in the 1700s. The author guided me through the years arriving finally arriving in the present. At this point the book took a significant change in direction moving toward politics and progressivism in education and homework arriving to the same argument reached in The End of Homework. That conclusion was that homework provided little to no academic benefit while infringing upon family, work and social development.<br />A third, quite refreshing text I reviewed for this paper was authored by John Rosemond. Ending the Homework Hassle addresses the teacher, student and parent homework triangle in a way that utilizes the benefit of each. The book explains how teachers, students and parents need to concur (or simply “come together on”) their individual expectations and tasks as to homework so that the process can be successful. After reading Rosemond’s book, I wanted to visualize how I could apply his strategies into the lesson and homework process.<br />This led me to read a portion of Classroom Instruction that Works, by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering and Jane Pollock. (2001) This brief research provided insights into the use and insertion of homework into a curriculum and lesson plan. It also provided time, grading and practice methods for homework implementation thus rounding out Rosemond’s ideas for a homework strategy.<br />Finally as I completed my background research, I discovered a short article in the Huffington Post (March 22, 2010) titled “Why Homework is Good for Kids,” by Diane Rativich, a History Professor at New York University. The article supported homework in our schools and it perpetuates the ongoing fight between those for and those against homework in education. It reaffirmed the comments included in both Kralovec and Buell’s books continuing the polarization of the two opposing sides.<br />Assumptions and Beliefs<br />As I began this project I had mixed emotions about homework. Those views included the feeling that a majority of homework given to me in my high school years, and today given to my children have little benefit as far as actually providing learning; it seems comprised of mostly busy work. After having just spent more than seven hours at school and another two hours at practice for a sport I was participating in, both my brain and body had had enough. There comes a point where my brain (and I am sure it’s the same for most others) says “that’s it” and it shuts down. <br />I must say, as I delved deeper and deeper into this project, my opinion slowly transformed from one-sided toward the middle. I began to wonder if there was a way of finding whether or not I could take a fair and reflective approach to this issue. I come to the point and believe that not all homework is bad and unnecessary, but perhaps some types of homework are necessary and more beneficial than others. I decided to work on a question that was narrow yet broad enough to provide an answer as I looked from the three differing perspectives. I wanted to discover the similarities and the differences in opinions, find where the common ground is and where there are differences about homework. Homework should not be busy work. It is supposed to have a reason with a means to an end with that end being student learning, growth, and development. <br />To assist in getting me to this end, I formulated a question that I hope will reveal the perceptions of the three parties most involved in the homework process: the student, the teacher and the parent. To distinguish their perceptions, I want to reveal the differences in them. Finally, to get to the core of the true benefits of homework, I have to discover what types of homework students find to have greater meaning for them. By tying these three parties together in a collaborating method I hope to find what works best, focusing on the differences and the similarities I hope to begin the process of making homework what it is meant to be for the student… truly meaningful, beneficial and developmental. <br />Research Question and Approach<br />As I contemplated my thoughts on homework moving gradually from a negative into a middle-ground perception, I began the process of creating the following research question. My goal was to position myself in an area of middle ground so that I can objectively look at this topic with a clear mind to allow the research evidence to truly reflect the truth. Below is the question: <br />
In what ways do students, teachers, and parents perceive the merits of homework in high school for different content areas?
to what extent are there differences in their perceptions?
What types of homework have greater meaning for students?
I chose to consider the wide-spectrum of beliefs from those totally against it, to those who are totally for it. I had to determine the best way to find that common ground. Metaphorically speaking, those totally against something and those totally for something are rarely right. As the saying goes the truth generally lies somewhere between. While I felt I was now in the mindset of somewhere between, I had to refocus my conclusions and place them upon the research. I needed to let the gathered data and results speak for themselves. The participants providing the data would include students, teachers and parents all coming from differing philosophies and backgrounds thus the data could be widely varied. In fact, I hoped for and expected to find, a wide-variety of information from the three points of view. I wasn’t sure what the true result would be, but I guess that is the reason for accumulating the data. The number of questionnaires returned may provide a clear and definitive answer, but that may not be the case. I perceived that I could end up with more differences than similarities, which would mean having to rethink the process, and at this point I am not sure what I will find, so I invite you come a long with me, so that we might find the answers together.<br />STUDY DESIGN<br />Participants Selected<br />Based upon the issues discussed above, I decided that there are three key participants from whom I need to gather data as the key component of this research paper. The participants utilized for this research project include: high school students, high school teachers and high school parents. The students were all ninth through twelfth grade and the demographics varied based upon the class makeup in which the questionnaires and focus groups occur. The overall return of the questionnaires revealed those answering the questionnaires equaled 24% girls and 76% boys. The racial mix of the students answering the questionnaire while not a question included but observed during the distribution and return consisted of roughly 40% Euro-American and the remainder Latin, Asian and African-American. <br />Setting for Study<br />The setting for this study took place in western Riverside County and was mobile between varying high schools in the area. As a substitute teacher, I had the opportunity to move from campus to campus and, thus, utilize students, parents and teachers from these various high schools in the region. This provided feedback that was more distributive than that of a single classroom or school. The student and teacher research was primarily performed in a school setting, while parent research was predominately completed in the parent’s home. A questionnaire was taken home from school and returned within several days of distribution by a student who had also completed a Student Questionnaire. The research period ran for 6 weeks starting in March 2010 ending in May of the same year.<br />Activity for Participant<br />From the questionnaire, the data was categorized into several areas using an Excel Spreadsheet. Several focus groups of students were created to further the research data revealed from the questionnaires. Additional on-the-spot interviews were conducted several times with students over a six-week period. <br />Methods of Data Collection and Data Analysis<br />Data collection consisted of differentiated questionnaires one for each of the three focus participants (students, parents and teachers). Based upon categorization of the data, several focus groups of three persons were formed and interviewed. Additionally, several on-the-spot spontaneous interviews occurred as an opportunity presented itself. <br />
Creating Student Questionnaires
The three questionnaires created contained varying questions for each participant group. The student’s questions were tailored by age, grade and then by favorite subject, their attitude toward homework, what they found helpful or not, and which subjects should and should not have homework. The teacher survey categorized time as teacher, what subject matter they teach, what their primary subject is if they teach more than one subject, why they give homework and what they do with it once they receive it from the student. The parent survey was established to gauge their perceptions of homework, whether they believe homework was necessary, and if so, what subject and type of homework was best and what their involvement was in their child’s homework. Each of the three questionnaires was discussed with fellow research peers to assist in determining the best form and method of questions to reach the desired goal (answering the research question).
The surveys for the questionnaires were provided to students on a high school sport team and to several high school classes with varying subjects. Parent questionnaires were taken home by the same students who completed the questionnaires on both the sport team and in classrooms. The parent questionnaires were then returned by the student to either their coach or teacher, who then provided them to me. Teacher questionnaires were distributed to high school teachers in a manner allowing them to choose to participate or not and returned to a teacher volunteering to collect them and subsequently forwarded to me. Additionally, focus groups with students occurred to enhance, affirm and dismiss items and issues raised by the questionnaires. All three surveys and focus groups were completed by participants on a volunteer basis. (Sample Questionnaires see Appendix A)
The qualitative data accumulated from the surveys was broken down for each group (student, teacher and parent) onto and excel spreadsheet. The data was then reviewed for consistency between the groups to visualize the similarities and differences between the three groups. I categorized and looked for similarities between their perceived merits, perceptions (similarities and differences) and what homework had more benefit for the student. Quantitative data was utilized to list the number of student, parent, and teacher totals as answered by them for each question. A key was developed utilizing subcategories for each question on the excel spreadsheet allowing between 6-8 answers to gauge the participant responses looking similarities and differences as outlined by the research questions.
FINDINGS & ANALYSIS<br />Findings from Student Questionnaire<br />Upon the review of the student questionnaires, it became clear that students chose elective classes which included drafting, core tech, computers, art, music and automotive Technology as their favorite. Second runners up included math, English/Language Arts with science and physical education finishing third. History was fourth; with foreign language a very distant fifth place.<br />Now that you know what the students seemed to like the most, let’s look at what they seemed to like least. Their least favorite was revealed to be English / Language Arts, over half of the students chose this subject as their least favorite. Math finished second with just over a third of the number of those who chose English/Language Arts. This number seemed odd since Math was also their second favorite class. Science finished a distant third, with only negligible numbers for history and foreign language. These were the only subjects to make the list. No other classes such as electives and Physical Education were mentioned in the student responses. <br />The reasons expressed by the students for disliking these subjects boiled down to these three expressions: 1. Boring, 2. Hard / Confusing, and 3. Not interesting. Additionally, the teacher was listed nine times by a student as to the reason why they placed these subjects at the bottom. While the teacher was mentioned only nine times out of 119 student responses that number still seemed significant to mention because this was discussed in the focus groups and all 6 students agreed in those conversations that the teacher was vital in whether they liked a particular class/subject or not. This being the case, there may be some credence as to saying the teacher has some bearing as to the students stating perception in making the class boring, hard/confusing and not interesting.<br />What is the flip side, why do students like certain subjects? Let’s take a minute and look at why they placed a subject at the top of their list. The top three categories they mentioned for liking a class/subject are as follows: 1. Fun / Enjoyable, 2. Easy, 3. Interesting. Additionally the teacher was mentioned six times again, possibly supporting one or more of these three items why the students liked a class/subject. Surprisingly the runner up to these three favorite reasons, but still quite a distance away. was future job and/or college. I would have thought that this area would have scored higher based upon our governments premise that school should prepare our children for college or a trade. <br />A review of the data demonstrated that students believe that the best form of homework is that homework which reinforces an idea or a concept taught in school. A good number of students also stated that if the homework/subject was a, life necessity it was important to learn and homework would be beneficial. <br />The student questionnaires continued to reveal that parental participation in homework is clearly divided. Nearly one-third stated they received parental help, one-third received parental reminders and encouragement and one-third received no help, reminder, or encouragement to do their homework. I believed this was a sign that students may not be clear on what the parent’s responsibilities are. The parental questionnaires had similar results. (See Figure 1 for key and sample data. SEE Appendix B-1 for Key and full data)<br />Figure 1. Student Questionnaire Sample Data<br />KeyGender - 1. male, 2. Female, 3. Not SpecifiedGrade - 1. 9th, 2. 10th, 3. 11th, 4. 12thBeneficial Homework - 1. Reinforcement of Idea/concept, 2. Life Necessity, 3. Prepare for college, 4. Reading, Notes & Concept Questions for studying, 5. Self Study 7. None, 8. Worksheets, 9. All is helpfulNon-Beneficial Homework - 1. Busy work, 2. No Purpose or help, 3. Textbook reading, 4. Time constraints, 5. Group Projects, 6. Workbook/Sheets, 7.None, 8.research projects/essays, 9. Computer/WebTop Classes - 1. Math, 2. English/Lang. Arts, 3. Science, 4. History/Soc. Sci, 5. Foreign Lang., 6.P.E., 7. Arts, 8. OtherFavorite Subject - 1. Math, 2. English/Lang. Arts, 3. Science, 4. History/Soc. Sci, 5. Foriegn Lang, 6. P.E., 7. Arts, 8. Other Least Favorite Subject - 1. Math, 2. English/Lang. Arts, 3. Science, 4. History/Soc. Sci, 5. Foriegn Lang, 6. P.E., 7. OtherParent Support - 1. Help when needed, 2. Verify completion, 3. Remind me , 4. encourage or force, 5 No help, 6. Are not able to help, 7. Provide area and tools<br />Student Questionnaire DataSheet #GenderGradeBeneficialNon-BeneficialTop ClassesFav. SubReasonLeast Fav SubReasonParent SupportTVHS1M9blank11,21need in life1blank5TVHS2F11833,2,71easy2grammar/writing1TVHS3M9 1,2,31fun2dislike reading1TVHS4M9221,21 easy2 essay & reports1TVHS5F12231,51Challenging2Boring2TVHS6M111211easy2essays3TVHS7M11 21,2,41easy2Boring4TVHS8M11 11easy2pointless5TVHS9M9181,3,11easy2hard5TVHS10M117781working w/ #s2not life relevant5CHS1M9 blank1blank2blank5CHS2M11161,3,21formulas easy2spelling5CHS3M91,4,94,811likes numbers2too easy5CHS4F9771,8,61understand2problems & essays6CHS5F124 1,3,51working out problems2busy work1,6CHS6M9 71,2,31understand2hard4,5<br />Findings from Parent Questionnaire<br />As I reviewed the parents questionnaire nearly half of the parents describe vital homework as that which supports classroom learning and reinforces the lesson and the subject matter/standards taught in school. Many parents seemed to agree that homework which is busy work or overwhelming should not be given. The parents stated that overwhelming homework could include too much homework or the child not being capable of completing it because the student was not able to understand or learn the concept during class. They also listed that overwhelming homework includes homework which interferes too much or too often with sports, work and/or family activities.<br />The parent surveys overwhelmingly selected Math and than English/Language Arts as the most important subjects to have homework assignments assigned to them. Both Science and History (Social Science) were nearly equal as to their importance, but only half of the returned questionnaires suggested that either subject required homework on a daily or consistent basis. <br />As to the types of homework parents thought had greater meaning, again the parents chose a form that would sum up the lessons taught and provide their child better understanding of the subject matter. Parents believed that the homework should be more in-depth rather than just a worksheet from the text workbook or some other form of similar worksheet. It was surprising that only three thought that homework should help prepare their child for college, with four stating that it should prepare them for the job world.<br />The questionnaires for the parents revealed that the parents assist their child with homework closer to half the time compared the student’s perception of one-third of the time. Around one-fourth of the parents stated they do not help their child, while between one-fourth to one-third stated that they monitor their child’s homework on a regular basis. (See Figure 2 for key and sample data. SEE Appendix B-2 for Key and full data)<br />Figure 2. Student Questionnaire Sample Data<br />KEYHomework Valuable/Vital = 1. Retain Knowledge/practice, 2. Teach Responsibility, 3. Ponder/explore, 4. Reward for work, 5. Testing, 6. Keep off StreetsHomework Not Valuable/Vital = 1. Busy work, 2. Overwhelming, 3. Interferes w/ work / extracurricular activities, 4. Takes away family time, 5. All is vital, 6. Student not understand lesson (student not paying attention)Should Have Homework in = 1. Math, 2. English/Language Arts, 3. Science, 4. History/Soc. Science, 5. Foreign Language, 6. otherNo Homework in = 1. P.E., 2. History, 3. Foreign Language, 4. Science, 5. Math, 6. other, 7. EnglishGreater Meaning Homework = 1. Prepare for Job, 2. Prepare for College, 3. Summation (show understanding) 4. In-depth rather than worksheet, 5. Workbook typeAssist with Homework = 1. Review for Test, 2. Proof Reading, 3. Support , 4. Materials to complete 5. Monitoring, 6.None/unable to help <br />Parent Questionnaire DataSheet #Val/VitN-Val/VitShould HaveNo HomeworkGr MeanAssistTVHS11,211,2,3,4,511,21,2TVHS212allblankblank3,4TVHS31,3,4blank1,2,3,4,5blankblankblankTVHS41,5blank1,2,31,2,326TVHS5312,1,4,3135CHS1121,23,413,4CHS2 2,45,4 6CHS3invalid CHS41 1,23,4 3CHS514,51,2,3143CHS641,22,61,516CHS7invalid CHS8invalid CHS9invalid CHS102 1,2,411,35CHS115,2blank2,1623CHS12352,1,3,5633CHS131,3blank1,2,4blank53CHS14231,2445<br />Findings from Teacher Questionnaire<br />The teacher questionnaires revealed that the average teaching experience for those responding to the questionnaire was 16.5 years, with each teacher averaging 144 students between their five teaching periods in a given school day. Upon review and reflection of the teacher questionnaire, I found that a majority of the math teachers believe in having the students complete daily homework, with half of those teachers stating that the homework should take 21 to 40 minutes per day to complete. The other half of the teachers were split between those stating that homework for their subject (math) should be between 40-60 minutes; while others stated their homework should only take up to 20 minutes a day. <br />The teacher’s answered overwhelmingly as the students and parents did in their questionnaires, that homework which emphasizes the lesson/subject and is utilized for reinforcement and practice was their main reason for giving homework. It seems as though all agree at this point that this makes homework valuable. Teachers also listed similarly to that of the students that homework which is given or perceived as just busy work or which does not support the lesson/subject was the least valuable form of homework and should not be given. <br />When looking at what the teacher’s primary challenge to homework was, the questionnaire revealed one of three answers. Their first comment was that students do not take the homework assignment seriously, second they stated that students fail to complete the assignments and third the teacher stated they did not have time to thoroughly review and give feedback to the students. The third comment which I agree is significant was discussed in the focus groups to determine how the students interpreted this issue. This issue, if perceived by the students negatively may have direct affect on the students completing and the quality of their homework. (See Figure 3 for key and sample data. SEE Appendix B-3 for Key and full data) <br />Figure 3 – Teacher Questionnaire Sample Data KEYSubject = 1. Math, 2. English / Language Arts, 3. Science, 4. History / Culture, 5. Foreign Language, 6. OtherHomework Frequency = 1. Daily, 2. Every other Day, 3. Weekly, 4. Rarely, 5. NeverDuration = 1. 0-20 min., 2. 21-40 min., 3. 41-60 min., 4. 61-80 min., 5. 81+ min.Challenges = 1. Student Taking Serious, 2. Lack of resources at home/extracurricular activities, 3. Not doing it, 4. Students not asking for help, 5. Absences, 6.Teacher no time to review/feedbackValuable = 1. Timely/Relevant, 2. finish class work/study for exam, 3. Completed, 4. Reinforcement / Practice, 5. Understand/prepare for next lesson, 6. Expands learningNot-Valuable = 1. Busy work, 2. Not Related to skill / concept, 3. Students not understand assignment/subject , 4. Too easy/not challenging, 5. Not reviewed by the teacher /graded 6. Trying to get student to learn on own, 7. Takes Away Family time, 8. Cheating<br />Teacher Questionnaire DataSheet #Experience# of Students1st SubectFreqDur2nd SubjectFreqDur3rd SubjectFreqDurChallValNValCHS2325140641 11CHS714165343 221CHS911170441 1,326CHS14517144 1,321CHS420100111111 444,1CHS8335011121264 41,5CHS2511168112 43,8CHS628145113 642CHS113160142 241,2CHS201260242 242CHS1827160312342 347CHS301150434 642,3CHS2623165441 642,1CHS241014044 6,141,7,2CHS518180512 342, 3<br />Findings from Student Focus Groups and Individual Interviews<br />There were two FG’s (Focus Groups) utilized as part of this research project. FG1 consisted of three female students (a ninth and two eleventh graders) and FG2 consisted of three male students (ninth, eleventh and twelfth graders). Additionally, there were two individual female interviews - one in the ninth and the other in the twelfth grade. The questions asked in the focus groups as well as the individual interviews were the same on each questionnaires (student, parent and teacher) although the questions for each group were not discussed in sequence as listed on the questionnaire. Additional questions were added based upon the conversation with each FG and the individual interviews.<br />During the conversations with each FG and during the individual interviews, the conversations and the answers revealed seemed fairly consistent to those revealed on the student questionnaires. The students stated Math, English / Language Arts, and Science as the most important classes that should include homework on a regular basis. They assert that these same classes - Math and English - were also the least liked by them for the same reasons: not good with numbers, memorization, disliked subject matter, disliked doing essays, readings not relevant to them, boring and, yes again, the teacher had a major role as to whether the student liked or disliked the class/subject. They all stated that if they liked the teacher even if they did not like the subject they generally liked the class. The only class that the students in these FG’s claimed had daily homework was in Math, the other classes varied. The daily amount of homework varied from ten minutes to one hour for these students and was rarely more than 30-minutes in duration. The senior classmen all seemed to agree that homework progressed upward in volume from ninth grade through eleventh grade with a significant drop-off in the twelfth grade. All stated that they didn’t mind doing homework in their favorite subject which they stated generally agreed with their goals upon graduating from high school. All of the students stated that they procrastinated when completing a large project with some saying that they perform better with a tight deadline. <br />When asked the students about receiving feedback from their teacher regarding their completed homework they all stated, that the feedback varied and was inconsistent as to what it consisted of. Their statements included that some homework was graded, some had a check mark, some had comments and some had none of the above. All of them said that they had to approach the teacher to follow-up if they had questions and that the teacher rarely made further query or comment to them personally about their homework. Additionally it varied from teacher to teacher whether the homework was included as part of their grade or not and if it did, how much it counted toward their grade.<br />Additionally I asked the FG’s what causes them not to do their homework as this was an issue the teachers mentioned high on their list. The students stated that they “forgot.” I asked them what they meant by this, and they said it was not a priority of theirs and that hanging out or doing other things after school distracted them from completing it. All of them agreed that this effect didn’t just happen after school but was built into their mindset upon leaving each classroom. Perhaps if homework was considered to be significant to a lesson or subject and emphasis needs to be placed upon it at the beginning of the lesson rather than the end of it, when students are preparing to leave for the next class or on break.<br />Finally, I asked the FG’s about parental help in doing their homework. , They all stated consistently across the board that they very much disliked having their parents help. They provided two reasons for this thought. The first was that their parents thought they knew the work/subject and didn’t. The second was that the parents knew too much and often expanded far beyond what they considered necessary for completing the assignment thus driving them crazy with too much information they didn’t need or want.<br />Overall Findings<br />Based upon the data provided from the three questionnaires (student, parent, and teacher), the two focus groups and individual interviews, it does appear to me that all three groups had similar perceptions as to homework. Even though many of the students first comment was that they’d prefer not to have or do homework, their questionnaires and the focus groups demonstrated that they are in agreement with parents and teachers that at least some homework is necessary. <br />Based upon the back ground readings, homework has not always been the accepted standard of a school’s curriculum. (Buell, 2004)(Kravolec, 2000) Only since the late 1950s with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union did homework become instituted into our nation’s school curriculum. As I proceeded with my research, I found that there were no school standards or requirements as to assigning homework in any of the three high schools in which I collected my research data. As a result I did not observe or come across any turmoil as to students being assigned excessive homework. Both John Buell (2004) and Etta Kralovec (2000) in their writings make significant comment as to their reasoning why homework should not be assigned. Their primary reasoning was that homework intruded on family time, work, extracurricular actives and other non-school related learning opportunities such as social development and life lessons. <br />The research data I obtained through this project, revealed only Math as being the only subject primarily having daily homework assigned. The other primary subjects (English / language Arts, Science and History) having assignments given sporadically, varying from every other day to rarely having any. The average length of homework assignments (per subject) was usually described as being between 20-40 minutes in duration for the student to complete. This was determined by both the data from the student questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews. Even though Math and English / Language Arts were the student’s least favorite subjects, they scored just as high by both students and parents as being the most vital subjects. Both parents and students agreed by stating that these two subjects should include frequent homework assignments.<br />Some of the other areas revealed from the research included: Parental homework assistance, teacher / student homework follow-up and the reasons why there should and should not be homework given. As to parental assistance, the data revealed that is about half and half as to parents and students agreeing that parental assistance is desirable in the student completing their homework. John Rosemond in his book Ending the Homework Hassle states, that the parent should be an outside observer encouraging and providing the tools necessary for their child to complete their homework. Rosemond continues by saying, that parents should refrain as much as possible from actually assisting and/or completing the homework for their child. I found this to be consistent in the student focus groups, as the students mentioned their thoughts as to the parent role in their homework. When it came to the parent’s thinking, in their questionnaire they seemed to believe that their direct participation in their child’s homework was necessary. As for the teachers in this area, their desire to assure that the homework was completed, with a true effort toward doing it correctly rather than just going through the motions of just completing was their goal. The teacher questionnaire did not ask their perspective as to what role parents should play in their child’s homework. Perhaps better communication for all directed by the teacher is what is needed to clear this issue as to responsibility.<br />As to teacher/student homework follow-up, as described by the student focus groups, this area varies widely from teacher to teacher and seemed somewhat unclear to the students. Many students feel a need to receive some type of reward for doing their homework assignments. For the most part, this reward has generally been provided by receiving credit toward their class grade. There seems to be a disconnect for students to do something for nothing, in this case doing homework and receiving nothing in return does not settle well with them. Most students today don’t see homework as practice that should help them perform better on a summative assessment given later. Students see homework as an everyday chore that parents have taught them to barter for (e.g. “if do this and you’ll get that” mentality). Almost seems as though we need to change our teaching patterns at school and home so they agree. <br />Teachers on the other hand have their own problem-timely scoring homework and following-up with those students who may not have done well on the homework assignment(s). The data from the questionnaires revealed that the average teacher has 144 students. They may also have (which may vary from school to school) generally one preparation period of 55 minutes to prepare for that day or the next day’s lessons. This would include review and grading time for all periods. Most teachers take and complete these functions at home on their own time. They too have the same family and other considerations to take care of that students have as mentioned by Buell and Kralovec as to why students should not have homework. Additionally Teachers generally only have 55 minutes to teach their lesson and with an average of 29+ students in each class, there is rarely enough time to meet one-on-one with students regarding the lesson just presented let alone past lessons and homework. The students in the focus groups stated to me that the teacher very rarely follows up with them as to their homework and it is upon them to go to the teacher for assistance.<br /> I would tend to agree that the reason for homework as revealed by the three groups is to reinforce the lesson taught, to meet the course standards and should be utilized for practice. This being said, I also agree as they did, that homework given as busy work and/or not related to the lesson and standards is of no value. While we all agree that this is a primary reason for homework, there are others I’d submit as being equally important such as: Preparation for an upcoming lesson, reinforcement of an idea and expansion upon it, self-exploration and deeper critical thinking, and study for an assessment just to name a few. <br />I believe the research provided a happy means to explain when and why homework is not only necessary but needed and that students, parents and teachers are not as far apart as initially thought. I believe I’ve identified where there needs to be some work toward the role and expectations of each participant as to homework. I believe the teacher as the assigner of the homework needs to provide the information to the parent and student as to what each of their roles include, with each than taking full responsibility for that role. <br />DISCUSSION OF RESULTS<br />New Insights into my Teaching Role<br />As discussed earlier, I had a rather negative view of homework prior to the start of this research paper. I based that view upon my son’s and daughter’s assigned middle school homework as well as my own history. However, as I began this project I was determined to stay as neutral as possible thus allowing the research to reveal its findings without pre-judgment. Based upon those early perceptions and the findings from the research, I believe I have come to a point of view vastly different than that when I started this project. <br />My new perception is that when it comes to homework I think I have come to an area of common ground that homework is neither, never necessary or always necessary. I now believe that it needs to be part of an integrated lesson plan and utilized as necessary to provide a “full-circle learning experience.” What I mean by “A full-circle learning experience” is to assure that the student is prepared for the lesson to be taught in class prior to the lesson, reinforce the lesson as it is being taught in the classroom or after the lesson has been presented to the student and thus utilized as a method to refresh, practice or for assessment (prior, informative, and summative). Teachers want the student to learn, parents want their child to learn and students want to learn in a method that provides excitement and enjoyment in the process. Homework which is properly integrated can provide this excitement and enjoyment as well as provide true beneficial learning if applied correctly.<br />New Insights into the Students, Parents and Teachers<br />As I progressed through the various steps of my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that even though most students seem to traditionally state that they dislike homework and that it is meaningless, most truly believe there is a value to homework if it is perceived by them to be beneficial. In fact this thought seemed to transcend across the thoughts of both parents and teachers too. All three seemed to agree that for homework to be worthy of completing it needed to have a means to the ends. All three also agreed that for the homework to be beneficial that it needed to be a piece or part of the lesson taught in school and utilized to reinforce that lesson. Additionally they all were of the same mind that if the homework did not meet the above requirements, it was considered to be just busy work and not necessary. Some parents and students made comment that homework that interferes with family time, extracurricular activities, jobs, or which was not learning effective (reinforcement) was not worth doing. <br />It has been heavily debated over the past 20-30 years as to whether parents should participate in the student’s daily homework assignments. This debate seems to flow like the oceans from high to low-tide. This area seems to be the where the biggest differences exist between students, parents and teachers. Students for the most part did not like parent participation in their homework, but there was exception to this for some. <br />Parents seemed to be split nearly 50/50 as to their participation in their child’s homework. Some parents participate fully and daily with their child, some merely remind and/or provide a quite area and tools to help their child complete their homework, and some offer no assistance at all. Teachers did not seem to make much comment as to parent assistance in their child’s homework, but seems that they would like the parents to assist in the assurance that homework was being completed as assigned by them on a daily, weekly basis.<br />New Insights into my Theoretical Assumptions and Beliefs<br />As the results started to reveal themselves through the review of the three questionnaires, the focus groups and the individual interviews, I began to see that the perspectives of the students, teachers, and parents were not so different. On the one hand the students did not seem to mind homework assignments as long as they were geared toward their likes and needs. This in and of itself may be the main reason for students not completing or placing much effort into their homework, which in turn places the teacher in a helpless situation. This was often stated on the teacher’s questionnaires-the lack of the students completing the homework and/or the poor quality of work often turned in. <br />My background research seemed to suggest that homework in elementary school should be rare and not exceed 30-minutes in length. As a student progresses into middle school, the research suggested that homework should slowly progress from 30-minutes to 1-hour in the eighth grade. The same research suggested that homework should progress from 1-hour to 2½-hours by the twelfth grade. It seems ironic that the research suggests a progressive increase of homework from elementary through high school even though the same research suggested that there was no affirmative data revealing that homework provided any substantial increase in testing scores. <br />Many students at the high school level tend to see themselves not only as emerging adults but as adults who desire control of their lives. This was revealed in the several questionnaires and each of the focus groups. It seems that many students tend to rate social interaction higher than their homework assignments, students stated that upon leaving campus they tend to forget or put aside school projects and assignments as if they never received them, only facing the truth or consequences when preparing for school the next day or upon arrival to the class in which the assignment is due. These students see a social side of life outside of school, these are not the same social issues generally described as occurring in the classroom, but some argue that they may be just as important to their social learning development as school work.<br />What does all this say about homework? It is not as cut-and-dry was we may seem to believe; get an assignment, competently complete it, turn it in for review, and receive feedback. <br />Reflections on Ethical Issues<br />One of the ethical issues that arose during my research in both the background and application research areas included whether there were any cultural, physical, monetary, or ethical issues which would keep a student from benefiting from homework. With computers and the internet playing a major role in education today, how are those families who do not have the means to provide a computer and the internet to their children going to keep up with the expectations of schools today. <br />With the ever-expanding increase in single parent families, the high unemployment rate, economic recession and many families losing their homes, many families are relying upon their children’s income to support their family, leaving the student less time to complete homework. Why should a student be punished academically for having to be a bread winner for the family in these hard times? <br />We as teachers and administrators need to take our blinders off to see the world around us, to learn and know our students and to adjust with the times we live in. Every generation has it’s own trials. We often say that the stress for each succeeding generation’s youth is more complex than the last, but in reality technology has made it easier. It is we who decide to push and press our youth to be more at a younger age than we had been. Other students are our children’s competitors and we press them to be better than the rest; it may be harsh, but then again this has been the mode of our culture since the inception of this country. As teachers there comes a time to step back, take a breath and rethink our goals and processes prior to pushing forward. If and when we take the time to do this we can consider, what the best method is to move our students forward ethically and morally.<br />Applications<br />As we teachers move forward homework should be considered a process to be carefully inserted into our lesson planning. Considerations should be made not only toward the type and form of homework to be assigned but the benefit of it as well. Teachers need to1 consider the complex issues their students confront not only at school but at home. Issues such as family life, family finances, jobs, etc… <br />I believe that a clear understanding as to homework needs to be undisclosed to all three parties (student, parent and teacher) by the teacher at the beginning of the class. What are the expectations of each participant and what issues are there that may help or preclude the student from fully complying with what’s required and agreed upon by all parties. While this sounds all too easy, with each high school teacher having in upwards of 144 students execution of this strategy is not so easy. As a parent I recall receiving numerous teacher/parent/student contracts regarding behavior and homework, and all too often I, as many parents who receive these documents do, set them aside or signed and returned them without reading them and fully buying into them. This then makes the communication essentially null and void until the first progress report hits the mailbox. I believe communication is essential for all three participants to reach the desired goal, student learning and success toward meeting those standards goals. Teachers need to find and determine the best method for themselves and make continuing adjustments as necessary to keep it fine-tuned. Communication needs to be frequent and flow timely in both directions. <br />Next Steps of Inquiry<br />As I come to the completion of this research project so many more questions come to mind as to this topic which now seem in need of being explored. Earlier I discussed exploring the homework issue in middle and elementary school levels to help expand the picture. Now I know that looking at differing public school districts, private, and charter schools should be explored. <br />Looking at the communication triad between teacher, student and parent which I believe is key to most of the issues raised and answered by this project, new areas need to be further explored. Some of these areas include the teacher’s frustration with no work being completed, incomplete work and half thought out work being turned in. As for the parents, the not knowing of what the teacher’s expectations are for them as to assisting their child in completing their homework assignment as well as meeting the needs and goals of the teacher. The students need to know the clear expectations for them as to how often they will have homework, how much time it will take them daily, teacher / student follow-up if there are issues, if it is graded as part of their grade or not and etc... I found that these issues seem to be persistent and need a method for clarification through exploring and researching them.<br />Limitations<br />As discussed in the early beginnings of this research project just a small snapshot of the homework portfolio has been exposed here. This project included three public high schools that did not have homework requirements built into their curriculum. What might a project that focused on such a curriculum expose? Then there are elementary and middle, private and charter schools which were not include. Does one size fit all as to homework? What if we looked at affluent areas and contrasted those with middle and lower affluent areas? This research project was a good start, but is a mere scratch on the surface of this topic. Homework has been in a continuous fight and has been debated heavily since the inception of its use in our public schools. This fight has swung back and forth in this country going back to the 1700’s. (Buell, 2004) Additionally as stated by Rosemond (1990) in his book Ending the Homework Hassle, homework needs to be planned as part of the lesson as well as the parents need understand that homework is a tool designed for learning and what part they should play in it. Some of the learning needs to emphasize that homework is part of the process in which a student accepts the responsibility for one’s self by completing it. <br />For the most part our parents intentions for their child’s success is paramount in today’s society. We as parents work hard to protect and encourage our children through extending over them an umbrella of protection. A protection that Rosemond (1990) describes as a disservice to our children by us parents not allowing our children to grow through making mistakes and sometimes getting hurt in the process of them accepting responsibility for their own lives. As Rosemond states, we need to allow our children to accept responsibility for themselves, and part of that responsibility is allowing them to fail. <br />As a substitute teacher finding a method to the homework equation in this project has been accomplished almost under a microscope. By that I mean I’ve been somewhat on the outside looking in. Just as a scientist looks through a microscope to observe the human cell, so he can see things happen, but can’t really participate in the practice. I too have been peering through a similar microscope. In the future as a teacher I will be able to be that cell and choose what the cell (homework) develops into. It will allow me to take some of the insights learned here in this research project and apply them, to test them and verify if they indeed work or if they need to be modified.<br />CONCLUSIONS<br />As I pull all my final thoughts together as to this research project, I can’t help but think how I barely scratched the surface of this highly debated topic. Some of the new insights and conclusions I’ve accumulated as part of this project include: 1) that homework does have a place in education; 2) that early and continuous communication between student, parent and teacher is vital for it’s success in implementation; 3) that homework needs to be as engaging as possible. It needs to meet the goals and desires of the student and be current and relevant to them. <br />As I performed this project from the outside looking in as a substitute teacher, I also look forward to expanding upon this research as I move into my own classroom. By being in a fulltime classroom I will have the opportunity to expand upon the research I’ve already completed by trying and utilizing the methods discussed above. I also, look forward to expanding my research by trying different methods as they will surely present themselves.<br />As I look at the history of homework in education, there have been two polarizing sides as to whether homework is necessary or not. On one side the argument is that homework interferes with life and learning outside of school which includes; job, family, extracurricular activities, social growth, etc… On the opposing side homework is seen as an advantage toward success, college, higher grades, work ethics, etc… Both seem right yet the truth is usually found somewhere in between. I believe most would agree that too much of anything or not enough of something can usually do harm. As I say there is some truth to that comment, I’d also say, the truth as to homework is found somewhere in the middle as well. I don’t believe at this point homework must be 1-2 hours in length each night for a high school student nor is zero homework the answer. The correct amount of homework is that which makes sense to meet the needs of the lesson which should meet the current standards for learning. Additionally the needs of the student must be considered to provide a well-rounded education that includes school, family, work, social growth and extracurricular activities.<br />The goals at the beginning of this project were to find, in what ways do students, teachers, and parents perceive the merits of homework, to what extent are there differences in their perceptions and what types of homework have greater meaning for students. This project began to reveal answers to all of these questions. While all three parties had some differing perspectives I believe they all found the merits of homework to be important. Each revealed that homework was valuable to reinforce the classroom lessons through practice and reinforcement. I think this project sets a good foundation for me as well as any teacher, to dig deeper and explore when and how homework meets the needs of our children if utilized correctly. <br /> <br />APPENDICIES<br />Appendix AA-1Student Questionnaire<br />A-2Parent Questionnaire <br />A-3Teacher Questionnaire<br />Appendix BB-1Student Questionnaire Data<br />B-2Parent Questionnaire Data<br />B-3Teacher Questionnaire Data<br />Appendix A-1<br />Student Questionnaire<br />
What is your favorite subject?(briefly explain why)
What is your least favorite subject?(briefly explain why)
In what ways do your parents support you with your homework?(briefly explain why)
Appendix A-2<br />Parent Questionnaire<br />Thank you for your time in assisting me in this Master’s of Education research project. All the information provided will be confidential and as you can see personal information has been intentionally left out. Please print clearly and please respond openly to the questions. Time is of the essence, so I request that you complete the survey now and have your child return it tomorrow. <br />Thank you so much for your assistance. <br />
I believe homework is valuable / vital for my child because…
I believe homework is not valuable / vital for my child because…
I believe their should be homework in the following subjects ____________, ____________,____________,______________ and not in the following subjects ___________,_____________,______________,______________
I believe the following types of homework have greater meaning for my child? (provide brief reason after each)
Appendix A-3<br />Teacher Questionnaire<br />Thank you for your time in assisting me in this Master’s of Education research project. All the information provided will be confidential and as you can see personal information has been intentionally left out. Please print clearly and please respond openly to the questions. Time is of the essence, so I politely encourage you to complete the survey now and return it today or tomorrow so it not is misplaced. Thank you so much for your assistance in this project. <br />
I’ve been a teacher for __________ years
How many students do you have in all of your classes combined? _________
Please fill in the following graph completely for each item.
Subjects I Teach (please place your primary subject in the 1st box)Frequency of homework given and reasoning 1=daily, 2=every other day, 3=weekly, 4=rarely,5= neverTime student should be able to complete homework assignmentI teach the following grades
What challenges do I have in giving and responding to the student regarding homework?