Project Development As detailed in Chapter 1 and 2, the necessity of homework is a hotly debatedtopic. This researcher firmly believed in the value of homework. Research supportedthe idea that homework reinforces and helps to cement curriculum introduced in theclassroom (Cooper, Robinson, and Patall 2006). While some suggest that students areoverwhelmed with too many hours of homework and was a waste of time and could leadto major stress within families (Kohn), casual conversations with 8th grade students atMartinez Junior High seem to reveal that little time was actually spent on homework ortest study. Instead, students were spending the majority of after school time on theinternet, or cell phone or computer. PEW study data supported this anecdotal data.Recent PEW research indicated that there has been a sharp increase in cell phoneownership and usage for middle school aged children. While only 45% of teens ownedcell phones in 2004, that number jumped to 71% in 2008 and can be expected to be evenhigher today. In an effort to combine the needs of the teacher to have students do somework at home to keep the classroom curriculum moving forward, and the desire of thestudent to be using some form of technology for most of their after school hours, theresearcher set out to investigate the possibility of adapting routine weekly sciencehomework to the web. While many prior studies have been done on the effectiveness ofhomework, few have investigated the results of offering the opportunity to do homeworkthrough the internet. The major studies that have been reviewed primarily involved mathcurriculums and mostly at the high school level and above.
Prior research studies on reasons students do not do homework have come to theconclusions that students have difficulty working independently (Latto-Auld, 2005), thatthey do not have adequate facilities at home to complete their work (Krovalec & Buell,2001), the assigned work is inappropriate (Marzano & Pickering, 2007), or that thestudent voice has not been heeded (Noguera, 2007). To better engage the currentstudents who are Digital Natives, combining the ability to complete and submithomework with the power of the computer seemed necessary. This approach offered theopportunity to teach using technology – not just teach about technology. Last year students at Martinez Junior High School had a spotty history ofhomework completion. Often the results were as high as 50% non-turn in. There was agrowing sense from teachers that more and more students at all grade levels were notcompleting homework. The incidence of non-homework compliance was so high that theschool instituted an academic homework lunch for 8th grade science students. Studentswho did not complete their routine weekly science homework were “invited” to spendlunch with the principal every day until the work was completed. While the percentage ofstudents turning in their homework on time did not increase significantly, the schoolscores on the science portion of the yearly CST exam did improve. Was there aconnection to student participation in the homework process and an improvement in theirtest scores? Certainly it didn’t hurt. So given that it appeared there was a connectionbetween student achievement and homework, the research set out to investigate how toget a higher number of students to engage in the homework process and attempt tocomplete their homework on time. Since so many students showed an aversion to a
traditional pen-and-paper style of homework, was it possible to get them interested byoffering the same homework through the internet?Components Initially conceived as an action research project the intent was to assign Period 1as a control group, periods 2 and 5 being offered only an opportunity to complete theassignment on-line, and periods 3 and 6 being offered the opportunity to complete theirhomework on the web. It quickly became apparent that this would be punitive to studentswho did not have ready access to a computer and the internet. Even if students had accessto the internet there were issues of the necessary programs to support the assigned work.It became necessary to redesign the research. All students were given instruction onaccessing the homework on-line, completing it, and sending the completed work back tothe teacher. Once these instructions were given, students were then asked to decide whichmethod of homework completion they would prefer.Description of Project The project took place over a 4 week period covering one chapter of theirtextbook on the topic of Force and Motion. Each student is given a “consumable”science notebook at the beginning of the school year. It serves as a method to guidestudents to the important information to be gleaned from the chapter. There are typically3 to 4 pages per lesson and 3 to 4 lessons per chapter. The routine assignment were thepages for one lesson per week. Casual inquiry of the test subjects suggested that it tookmost students 20 to 30 minutes to complete all the assigned pages for the week.Occasionally there would also be additional homework in the form of completing lab
work or other supplemental worksheets. Students had been assigned a similar style ofhomework over the prior 6 weeks to insure that they had a familiarity with the length andstyle of a typical homework assignment. The study was restricted to homework pagesfrom the Science Notebook and Chapter Outline. Homework was assigned on Mondayand due on Thursday. The initial research proposed a pre-test prior to beginning theresearch. Due to time constraints the research was modified to include a homework quizgiven the day after the homework was due and reviewed in class. This gave all studentsan opportunity to review the assigned material even if they had not done the assignment. In order to make the notebook pages easily accessible to students, links wereembedded in the school-maintained teacher web page. Students opened the web page anddownloaded the necessary Science Notebook pages to their own computers. Oncecompleted, they attached the completed pages to an email and sent them back to theteacher. The teacher review of the completed work was emailed back to the student thenext day. Comments were attached along with the grade. This afforded the opportunityto give feedback to the student in a more timely fashion. This was an important feature asprior studies had indicated that getting information back to the student in a timely fashionwas instrumental in an improved comprehension of the material (Mendicino, Razza &Heffernan, 2009). Initially the researcher had hoped to use products already offered on-line by thetextbook publisher. These products proved to be unusable because the same work couldnot be offered to students NOT doing their homework via the internet.
No control over their review of the feedback – no different than when papers are returnedto students with comments.How to fit in the info on the math mall and the implications of read 180 etc.