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  • 1. Why is Homework a Dirty Word? Will On-line Homework Improve Completion Rates and By Extension, Improve Test Scores? A Field Project Presented to the Faculty of the College of Education TOURO UNIVERSITY - CALIFORNIA In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree of MASTERS OF ARTS in EDUCATION With Emphasis in Type emphasis here By Lauren Nourse July 2010
  • 2. Why is Homework a Dirty Word? Will On-line Homework Improve Completion Rates and By Extension, Improve Test Scores? In partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE In EDUCATION BY Lauren Nourse TOURO UNIVERSITY – CALIFORNIA July 2010 Under the guidance and approval of the committee and approval by all the members, this field project has been accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree. Approved: ___________________________ ___________________ Pamela A. Redmond, Ed.D. Date __________________________ ___________________ Jim O’Connor, Ph.D, Dean Date
  • 3. TOURO UNIVERSITY CALIFORNIA College of Education Author Release Name: Lauren Nourse The Touro University California College of Education has permission to use my MA thesis or field project as an example of acceptable work. This permission includes the right to duplicate the manuscript as well as permits the document to be checked out from the College Library or School website. In addition, I give Dr. Pamela Redmond permission to share my handbook with others via the Internet. Signature: __________________________________ Date: ______________________________________
  • 4. i Table of Contents CHAPTER I.............................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem...............................................................................................................................1 Background and Need....................................................................................................................................1 Purpose of the Project....................................................................................................................................1 Project Objectives...........................................................................................................................................1 Definition of Terms.........................................................................................................................................1 Summary.........................................................................................................................................................1 ABSTRACT............................................................................................................1 READING OTHER PROJECTS FOR THIS CLASS ONE REALIZES THAT THE PROBLEMS WE ARE FACING AS TEACHERS ARE COMMON THROUGHOUT THE ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES. OUR REASON FOR INVESTIGATING THE USE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY IS TO ALLOW TEACHERS TO BETTER CONNECT WITH OUR STUDENTS WHO HAVE GROWN UP AS TECHNOLOGY NATIVES (HATZIGEORGIOU, 2009). STUDENTS SEEM TO BE FEELING MORE AND MORE DISCONNECTED FROM SCHOOL WITH EACH PASSING YEAR. THEY QUESTION THE RELEVANCE OF THE SUBJECT BEING TAUGHT AND DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS VARIETY OF TOPICS CAN FORM A MAJOR FOUNDATION FOR THEIR FUTURE EDUCATION AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, FOR THEIR LATER SUCCESS IN THE WORK PLACE. (PRENSKY, 2008B) IN OUR EFFORTS TO FIND WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS WANT TO ENGAGE, WE MUST INVESTIGATE HOW WE AS TEACHERS CAN USE THESE NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT STUDENTS USE DAILY (OR EVEN HOURLY). ..................................................................................................2 CHAPTER II............................................................................................................8 CHAPTER III.........................................................................................................23 CHAPTER IV........................................................................................................24 APPENDIX: FIELD PROJECT............................................................................30 Field Project Title.........................................................................................................................................30
  • 5. ii List of Tables
  • 6. Chapter I Statement of the Problem Background and Need Purpose of the Project Project Objectives Definition of Terms Summary Abstract There is an ever increasing complaint from high school teachers that the students we are sending from the junior high are not prepared for the rigors of their classes. Given the premise that homework is a necessity when learning to work independently and in developing self-discipline and responsibility the teachers at Martinez Junior High School instituted a homework lunch for students who did not complete math and science homework when due. The purpose was to provide a location for homework completion with teacher assistance. In spite of this intervention, the rates of completion of homework stayed static. Can we create more opportunities for homework to be done on line and will this increase homework completion rates?
  • 7. Will On-line Homework Improve Completion Rates and By Extension, Improve Test Scores? Reading other projects for this class one realizes that the problems we are facing as teachers are common throughout the academic disciplines. Our reason for investigating the use of educational technology is to allow teachers to better connect with our students who have grown up as technology natives (Hatzigeorgiou, 2009). Students seem to be feeling more and more disconnected from school with each passing year. They question the relevance of the subject being taught and don’t understand how this variety of topics can form a major foundation for their future education and, more importantly, for their later success in the work place. (Prensky, 2008b) In our efforts to find ways to help students want to engage, we must investigate how we as teachers can use these new technologies that students use daily (or even hourly). The debate continues to rage on as to the effectiveness of homework: does it translate into higher test scores? How do I cover the language of science and insure students have the background needed to understand our curriculum without asking for some effort on their part outside of the classroom day? Overwhelming evidence exists that homework improves student achievement (Cooper, Robinson, and Patall 2006). With that evidence in mind, how can we insure that: a) homework gets done; b) that homework is deemed to be meaningful to both students and teachers and; c) the new methods to deliver homework will stimulate its completion? Statement of the problem Research has shown improved student learning when meaningful homework assignments are completed and returned to students with constructive comments (Mendicino, Razzaq & 2
  • 8. Heffernan, 2009). In addition, students benefit from completing homework and learning to work independently. Homework also helps to develop self-discipline and responsibility. Given this information I wanted to find research that supported my belief that homework is an essential part of student learning and, more importantly, important for student retention of information. There is an ever growing struggle between schools and parents over the necessity, amount, and usefulness of homework. There are studies for (Cooper, Civey. Robinson, & Patall, 2006) and against (Kravlovec & Buell, 2000) homework, but the majority of studies conclude that homework does improve academic achievement. In spite of these studies, the perception persists and in fact is growing among teachers and administrators that homework is no longer an essential piece of the educational puzzle (Kralovec & Bell, 2003). In an attempt to increase homework completion rates in our eighth grade science classes we have been keeping an accurate tally of students who do not turn in assignments on time. They are then given a lunchtime detention with the principal and an opportunity to complete the work. The assumption has been that this intervention would improve the turn in rates. In the four months of this program there has been little or no improvement in percentage of homework turn in. 40-50% of students routinely do not turn in their assignments on time. In an effort to improve this turn in rate I have investigated studies that offer options to the traditional pen-and-paper homework cycle. The Mendicino fifth grade study concluded that there was a significant improvement in learning for students who completed the homework using the Web-based model. In a college level study, results were negligible. That study concluded that web-based homework is a good alternate but not necessarily a replacement for traditional general homework (Liang, 2002). 3
  • 9. Even though the college level physics results did not show any significant difference in learning outcomes, the study did report a higher level of homework completion for those who completed the web-based homework. They also reported that students found the web-based homework more “interesting” even though they spent more time completing it. Background and Need There is a need to find a new tech savvy way to allow students to participate in homework. In our continuing efforts to engage students in the academic process it appears we must learn from them and employ some new web based methods for completing homework. Obviously a student technology assessment would need to be completed. We are making assumptions that ALL students have access to and routinely use the internet and other technology. This survey would help find out what technology literacy exists among my students. What is the student’s access to computers, their access to the internet, and the ability of their computer to handle the graphic and video components anticipated in the homework events? Following the lead of several other teachers doing research on this topic I would suggest a need to an assessment of the conditions under which students do their homework. Items needing to be assessed would include: a) when and where homework is done; b) lighting conditions; c) study space or surface; and d) music, television, or other noise level factors. From that point, testing parameters would be established and a research time period set. Purpose The purpose of the project is to take existing homework assignments and compare the rates of homework completion between students using the traditional pen-and-paper style versus homework completed on-line and returned to the teacher via the web. Will there be an increase in homework completion rates as indicated by several prior studies? (Bonham, Beichner, & 4
  • 10. Deardorff. (2001), Salend, Duhaney, Anderson, Gottschalk, (2004), Cooper, Robinson, Patall, (2006) or has the novelty of the web as an educational homework resource begun to fade? Project Objectives Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? With this project I hope to determine what type of homework is necessary to encourage students to do their homework. I anticipate giving pre- and post- tests for the unit covered under the study. During the course of the project I hope to determine what homework teachers at MJHS deem worthwhile. The project will call for implementation of the use of online homework assignments for at least one project at MJHS. In addition, it will be necessary to find routine weekly homework assignments that can be done online. Hopefully this project will open dialogue and debate at MJHS as to the effectiveness and worth of homework in our specific community. Summary The hypothesis is that web-based homework, particularly well-designed homework with a web component, can provide an alternative to traditional types of homework. Can we create more opportunities for homework to be done on line and will this increase completion of homework assignments and by extension improve student test scores? Will on-line homework improve understanding of the material and thus create improved test scores? Lastly, will this be just a novelty to students who will be interested in completing this new style initially but quickly tire and return to old habits? Definitions: Blog or Web Log – A blog (short for "web log") is essentially an online journal or diary where one can post messages, photos, music and video on their own. 5
  • 11. (http://absolute-digital.co.uk/glossary.php) Blogger – A contributor to a blog or online journal (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/blogger) Computer-based homework: A more general term for any type of homework graded by a computer, including web-based homework. Critical pedagogy- process of learning and relearning Digital Literacy – The ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information. (http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz/Resources/Glossary-of-Key-Terms/) Digital Native – A digital native is a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3 players. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native) Digital Immigrant – A person who was not born into the digital world but has adopted many or most aspects of the new technology. (Prensky, 2001) High quality homework -well prepared cognitively engaging tasks of varying difficulty and involving careful class discussion of homework assignments (Trautwein et al. p 453 2006) Homework- any task assigned to students that is to be done outside the hours of the school day; any paper and pencil activity given by the classroom teacher that the student must complete at home. The activity or activities are not constrained to one subject or content area, but it can also be based on abstract thinking skills and requires mental effort and discipline (adapted from Cooper 2006, Corno 2000, and Taback 2005). Meaningful learning- occurs when students select and organize relevant visual and verbal information and systematically integrate the newly constructed visual and verbal representations. 6
  • 12. Paper-based homework- the more traditional method of students working out their solutions on paper, turning these in for grading, and, after a delay of a few days to a few weeks, receiving the papers back with written comments on them. Web 2.0 – The term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web that is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online. (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Web_2_point_0.html) Web-based homework system- a service which (1) can be accessed from any standard browser and Internet connection (2) password authenticates the user, (3) delivers assignments to students and receives their answers (4) grades student work automatically and (5) keeps a permanent record of student scores which the instructor can access at a latter time. 7
  • 13. Chapter II Introduction Why have students in a suburban middle school stopped completing homework in ever increasing numbers? What is it about homework that has become a battleground for teachers, administrators and students? Why do teachers assign homework? What do parents and teachers want their students to gain from completing the assigned tasks? If in fact homework has become a lightning rod for educational change, how can we facilitate that change and still keep the components of homework that are important to teachers and parents and still motivate students to higher rates of completion? Some investigations have suggested the reasons for non-completion involve the difficulty of the assignment or the inability of students to work independently (Latto- Auld, 2005). Other studies suggest that students do not have adequate facilities at home to complete work (Krovalec & Buell, 2001). Some researchers maintain that the assigned homework is inappropriate (Marzano & Pickering, 2007). Still others maintain that the student voice has been neglected and should be incorporated as best as it can be (Noguera, 2007). In our continuing efforts to engage students in the academic process, it appears we must learn from these various studies and employ some new web based methods for completing homework. As one might expect, the issue of homework creates a complicated debate. While some feel homework is punitive and a detriment to students and families, (Kohn, 2006), other research has shown nice improvements in student learning when assigned homework is completed (Mazzino, Brock, & Heffernan, 2009). Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) in their seemingly exhaustive research of the effects of homework found that homework improves learning but leaves the door open for more study (p. 53). Some of the studies they investigated suggest significant correlation between homework and achievement. There were differing 8
  • 14. conclusions based on grade level and subject matter, which leads the topic open to future investigation. Coutts (2004) argued that more homework is needed to achieve educational excellence. The debate rages on as to the necessity of homework. Homework is such a complicated issue. The ever-changing demographics of a community and the classroom continually cloud the issue of homework’s worth. Those who subscribe to the theory that homework is evil, tend to focus on the amount of time it takes for a student to complete the homework. This can create conflict at home between parents and students (Kohn, 2006a). Simplicio (2005) offers the argument that because there is little consistency between teachers on amounts and types of assigned homework students cannot adequately plan for homework time. This then leads to an investigation of the type of homework assigned: routine worksheets based on the day’s lesson, practice, review, research for a report, or perhaps a response to an inquiry based lesson. There are also homework assignments that fall under the non-instructional design (Xu, 2005). These include punishment assignments, social skill development, and homework involving parents that is intended intended to improve communication between parents and students. Those who support homework feel that it promotes a positive attitude towards school, cements the classroom learning, and helps to dispel the notion that learning occurs only in school. Homework also reinforces concepts introduced in the classroom. Students can learn to cope with mistakes and difficulties (Bempechat, 2004). Hong, Milgram, & Rowell (2004). Hong et al (2007) stated that “Homework is a powerful tool that can contribute to the advancement of children’s education, or it can do more damage than good to their education and development. The difference between the two outcomes depends on the quality of decisions as how to homework is implemented” (p. 203). 9
  • 15. Theoretical Rationale Killoran (2003) proposed that there are four theories of development that can be applied to the homework question. These development theories can be used to explain many of the reasons for not completing homework and can also be used to specify what interventions could be applied. 1. Behaviorism identifies the homework problem as being an issue of reinforcement. It is anything that results in a behavior increasing or staying the same. One must find a way to reinforce the desired behavior. 2. Constructivism suggests that a child should be the initiator of activity and is the person responsible for interacting with the environment. The child will manipulate the environment. The teacher would set up the environment so that the child could progress up the developmental scale. 3. Maturational theory believes in the biological reasons behind the development level. In order for the student to be successful the teacher must give homework that is at the appropriate developmental level. 4. Ecological systems theory maintains that there are extraneous issues that should be resolved before the student can be successful (Killoran, I. (2003). Why Is Your Homework Not Done? How Theories of Development Affect Your Approach in the Classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 30(4), 309-311) The constructivist view was applied to the proposed research because it supported active learning and allowed students to investigate new ways to solve old problems. Students used the web and Internet to complete routine homework assignments. This study proposed to examine if 10
  • 16. they could become active learners using a medium they have embraced. Xu (2005) suggested that when students complete homework for intrinsic reasons, the result is a higher grade. He defined intrinsic characteristics as ones that develop responsibility, allow the learner to work independently, help them to learn study skills, develop good discipline and reinforce school learning. One piece to the homework puzzle is to ask why a teacher assigned the homework in the first place – what were they hoping students would get out of the assignment and how long did the teacher think it would take the student to complete the assigned work. Some of the research studies focused on the value of the assigned homework (Marzano & Pickering, 2007). There were fewer studies that addressed the ideas of computer-based homework. There were some studies on the effect of web-based versus paper and pencil based homework at the university and upper high school level (Cole, 2003; Mendicino, Roth & Ivanchencko, 2008; Pritchard & Morote, 2002). The study proposed that homework could be a good way to help students create the foundation they need for science literacy and comprehension. It asked, could a teacher create homework that would combine student love of the computer and its instant gratification with instant feedback on assigned homework? Would this then translate into better understanding? Would this create better science literacy? More importantly, would this create a greater interest in science learning? Having been born into an era in which technology surrounds them, students born after 1991 can be considered Digital Natives. While they access technology and the internet daily through their computers and cell phones, it is usually for social networking purposes rather than for educational reasons. It is increasingly important to integrate the student’s use of technology into classroom instruction for Digital Natives. The custom of students having a 11
  • 17. passive role in the learning process should be left behind (Strom, Strom, Wing & Beckert, 2009). This opens the door for studying the effects of web-based homework, its completion rates, and the effect of completing that homework on quiz and test scores. Differing Opinions: What makes Homework Bad? As noted previously, there are differing opinions as to the value of homework. Marzano and Pickering (2007) looked at both sides of the homework issue. They reviewed the work of 7 studies and articles. One of those studies by Kralovec and Buell (2000, as cited in Marzano & Pickering, 2007) suggested that homework “teaches students to overvalue work and increase a sense of competition” (p. 74). Analyzing Bennett and Kalish (2006 as cited in Marzano & Pickering, 2007), Marzano and Pickering ascertained that too much homework can harm students’ health and family time. They also suggested that most homework is not designed well and teachers are not trained in how to assign homework. Another study examined by Marzano and Pickering took aim at other homework researchers and said that they fail to show that homework is effective (Kohn, 2006 as cited in Marzano & Pickering, 2007). Homework should be designed to involve activities appropriate for the home. Marzano and Pickering take note that Kohn may have misunderstood or misrepresented the research which then sent the wrong message that research does not support homework. The Marzano and Pickering study suggested that inappropriate or poorly designed homework may even decrease student achievement. Krovalec and Buell (2001) discussed how homework punishes students in poverty who may not have the time or place or equipment to adequately complete homework. In their follow up to a study in the 1990s on why students drop out, an inability to complete homework was a major factor. This study led to a further analysis of other research reports and interviews with teachers, parents, high school dropouts, and current high school students. In addition to being 12
  • 18. punitive on those who are poor, their investigations showed that homework can be a major factor in disrupting family life and being a major cause of family conflict. They suggested that academic skills needed to complete long-term independent projects should be taught within the school day. The drill and practice that is so often assigned as homework would be better placed within the school day to allow students to get help when needed when they are stuck or lack understanding. Krovalec and Buell go on to tackle and debunk three homework myths: 1. homework increases academic achievement 2. homework is needed for improved test scores 3. no homework will dilute the curriculum and cater to lazy students. Kohn (2006) in his article Abusing Research; The study of homework and other examples, tackled several studies and argued against their findings by reinterpreting the results of the various studies. His investigations rebutted those studies that showed a positive effect of homework on younger children. He went on to suggest that giving homework is just a form of punishment. Why does a teacher bother assigning homework? Connor (2004) reported that teachers assign homework with the notion that they do it to “promote good attitudes toward school, to improve study habits, to dispel the notion that learning occurs only in school, and to allow parents the opportunity to express to children how much they value education” (p.31). Conversely Van Voorhis (2004) pointed out that teachers have very little training and little professional development in what constitutes effective and well-designed homework. Schuster’s study involved 9th grade geography students (2009). In addition to measuring the impact of homework on learning, the study also measured the impact of student homework preferences on homework completion and on learning. Schuster’s investigation also involved a 13
  • 19. study of the homework environment, time management, the handling of distractions, a monitoring of motivation, and the controlling emotions related to homework. This research did not find an improvement in quiz scores for those students assigned homework. Thus one is left pondering whether there is a simple solution to the question of the value of homework. Differing Opinions: What makes Homework Good? When questioned, most teachers will say that they give homework to cement student understanding, promote responsibility, and provide for practice. Cooper, Robinson, and Patell (2006) completed a major study updating their 1989 study investigating over 69 studies on homework effectiveness. While other authors have debated their conclusions (Kohn, 2006), Cooper et al (2006) found that there was a positive influence of homework on achievement, particularly in upper grades. In six studies that employed exogenous manipulations, they all revealed that homework had a positive effect on unit tests. Because Cooper’s investigation of homework studies was so vast, there was difficulty in connecting the effects of homework on achievement due to the different foci for each of the studies. Looking at nine studies that used data collected as part of various waves of the National Education Longitudinal Study, he found that all but one had a positive association with homework. There were 12 other studies that examined the relationship between homework and achievement in Cooper’s analysis. Again, positive results between homework and achievement were recorded although caution was advised against drawing conclusions from this set as their variables and methods were diverse. Cooper recommended that future research was needed because of these variables. With the debate raging on the value and effectiveness of homework, it was important to narrow the research to look for the impact of web and internet based homework on learning. 14
  • 20. Mendicino, Razzaq and Heffernan (2009) conducted a study of 54 5th graders. Using a counterbalanced experimental design they got positive quantitative results. They ascertained that students learned significantly more with web-based homework than with paper and pencil based homework. In their short 1 week study, they compared the effects of web-based homework using the ASSISTment system to the effectiveness of paper and pencil homework. The ASSISTment system was used to provide tutoring at each step of the homework. Each tutoring step was constructed around a cognitive model of the problem-solving knowledge students have and the knowledge needed to solve each problem. It was modeled as a set of independent production rules which represented different pieces of knowledge. The ASSISTment system provided both interactive scaffolding and hints on demand. The results of this study showed that students performed better on assessments after using the web-based homework. Salend, Duhaney, Anderson and Gottschalk (2004) found that setting up a homework site on the internet was an effective tool to guide students and their families when attempting to complete homework successfully. Several studies Roth, Ivanchenko, and Record (2007), Pritchard and Morote, (2000), and Melis, et al (2001) focused on the effectiveness of various college level programs. The products researched were Web Work, Cybertutor, and ActiveMath. All three found these programs to be helpful in alleviating the problem of assessing large numbers of homework assignments. Getting information back to the student in a timely fashion was shown to be a key in the student’s better comprehension of material. It appeared that looking at ways to improve assessment is critical. Cole and Todd (2003) studied the use of computer animation and multimedia presentations. This was also a college level study. While they found that all forms of computer based instruction were effective at the college level their research showed that they were somewhat less effective at the pre-college level. Strom, Strom, 15
  • 21. Wing, and Becket (2007) found that students considered internet homework to be helpful and found that understanding of topics was increased. In addition, independent learning was facilitated and the internet allowed for more practice with research skills. Bonham, Becker, and Deardorff (2001) in their study of 294 college physics students found that while there was little difference in performance between web and paper assignments, students generally preferred to do their homework on the web. This was also the finding of Liang’s (2002) study of students in courses in introductory college level physics. Table 1 presents a summary of the major advantages and disadvantages surrounding the homework debate as highlighted in the majority of the research. Table 1: Summary of Homework Pluses and Minuses Advantages Disadvantages • Integrates separately learned skills and concepts • Major cause of stress in students’ lives • Dispels notion that learning occurs only in school • Major cause of family stress • Supplements in-school academic activities; reinforces school learning • Can promote a negative attitude toward school • Prompts greater self direction and self discipline • Can deny students access to leisure time and community activities • Promotes better time organization • Can increase differences between high-and low-achieving students • Invites more independent problem solving • Can increase parent involvement • Prepares students to be prepared for academic demands and obstacles 16
  • 22. Table 2: Summary of Recent Studies on Effectiveness of Homework Author Date Sample Age, Grade and gender Quantitative difference in performance Qualitative difference in performance. 1. Xu 2005 8th grade No Rural students took significantly less initiative in monitoring their motivation. High achieving students made greater use of all 5 subscales of homework management strategies. 2. Cole and Todd 2003 College freshman No measurable quantitative effect on the students outcome Appreciated on line component of homework High GALT students preferred paper and pencil Low GALT students preferred web and liked immediate feedback to HW 3, Razza and Heffernan 2009 5th graders 50% male 50% female Yes: students learned more with Web-based hw than with paper-and pencil hw. Students take hw more seriously when they know it will be graded 4. Cooper, Robinson, & Patall 2006 1987- 2003 K-12 Yes: doing hw improved academic achievement. More effect at middle and upper grades than elementary. Of 69 studies, 50 were positive and 19 were negative pg 48 Too much hw leads to poor attitude towards school 5. Schuster 2009 9th graders No: hw had little impact on learning in geography Inconclusive relationship between homework and quiz scores and homework preferences and homework completion and homework preferences and quiz scores 6. Pritchard & 2000 Yes Final exam, weekly tests, 17
  • 23. Morote and Socratic tutor Tutor based assessment was able to provide more accurate was to deal fairly with students’ capabilities (pg 6) 7. Bonham, Beichner, & Deardorff 2001 College physics Student performance was similar between paper and web sections (pg 294) Students overwhelmingly preferred web-based hw system. 8. Bonham, Deardorff, & Beichner 2003 College physics No statistical difference More effective for teacher in assessing student work 9. Roth, Ivenchecnko & Record 2008 Postsecondary math and science Students perceptions positive: liked immediate feedback Resubmissions of work Every study had unique findings. Table 2 summarizes the various research. While studies 1, 2, 5, and 8 showed no measurable quantitative differences in performance between students assigned homework and those not assigned homework, studies 3, 4,and 6 do show a measurable improvement. In addition, studies 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 suggested students prefer using a web-based homework system. Student Engagement and Student Perception It would be a common conclusion to assume that the findings of Cooper’s study lead to a conclusion that there is a distinct and measurable value to homework. However, broadening the research base revealed articles and books with distinctly different opinions. Schuster, in his 2009 study of ninth grade geography students, found inconclusive evidence that homework improved quiz scores. Kohn (2006a, 2006b) in several books and articles argued that homework is usually assigned simply because it is expected of teachers to assign homework. Kohn contends that homework “should not be assigned unless there are good data to demonstrate its value for most 18
  • 24. students” (p7). There is also a body of research that discussed how little teachers really know about the homework they assign-how long it will take a student and what their reasons are for assigning it. Often student teachers are given little or no instruction on how to decide what makes a good homework assignment. Bryan and Burstein (2004), who are pro-homework, found that the amount of homework completed had an effect on student academic achievement, in contrast to the amount of homework assigned. These arguments gave rise to the idea that students should have more of a voice in their homework and in their learning. There seems to be a fit for homework done and submitted on the computer. Students are looking for teachers to hop on the digital bandwagon. Mendicino, Razzaq and Heffernan in their 2009 study of 5th graders found that students learned significantly more with web-based homework as compared to traditional paper and pencil homework. Strom, Strom, Wing, and Beckert (2009) reminded us that students now consider the internet to be their most important source for most anything. Recent reports suggested that adolescents spend upwards of 15 hours a week online. This has been refuted by another study suggesting that the amount of time students spend on homework has not changed in 20 years (Van Voorhis, 2004). The U. S. Department of Education 2001 survey found that 26% of 13 year olds had one to two hours of homework per night while 37% had less than one hour. 30-40% spend no time on homework, either because they were not assigned any or did not complete it. Even with these statistics Coutts (2004) reported that many mid and high school students find homework to be socially isolating. According to Lenhart and Madden’s 2007 survey, 87% of students go online daily after school. Teachers must begin to tap into this technology to facilitate the digital native’s learning. Students like the fact that on the internet they can proceed at their own pace. With student participation in social networking sites so high, there is an avenue opening for online 19
  • 25. teamwork tasks and use of the internet to expand group learning. A student’s perceptions of homework and school in general play a major part in their future success. Summary If, in fact, homework is being assigned in an effort to improve student achievement then one must answer the question of how that achievement is measured. Relative to this study, while it would seem that achievement in science could be measured in terms of science literacy and curiosity about the topic, the reality is that achievement must hold to our state and national measures of judging literacy which currently is by standardized tests scores. More recent studies showed that students prefer using the web and computer for their homework regardless of its direct impact on test or quiz scores. Prensky (2007) suggested that students are asking for new technologies since they realize how useful they can be. As Strom et al (2009) reported, students are frustrated by teachers who do not embrace the digital environment. As Digital Natives they are said to prefer receiving information quickly; are adept at processing information rapidly; prefer multi-tasking and non-linear access to information; have a low tolerance for lectures; prefer active rather than passive learning, and rely heavily on communications technologies to access information and to carry out social and professional interactions (Prensky 2001). As we can see from Figure 1, students are spending increasingly larger amounts of time on the internet. As adolescents increase their online time, it will be important to tap into their belief that their homework can be improved through the use of the internet. (Lenhart & Madden, 2007). The focus of Chapter 3 will be to narrow the study of homework on the Internet to middle school students. There is strong evidence that teachers can lead the way in showing 20
  • 26. students how to employ technology based tools to optimize the learning experience. (Kirkwood & Price, 2005). The idea is to teach with technology – not just teach about technology. Figure 1. Percentage of students in nursery school and students in K-12 using computers or the internet, by grade level: 2003. Reprinted from “Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003: A Statistical Analysis Report,” by M. DeBell, and C. Chapman, 2006, National Center for Education Statistics, p.7. Copyright 2006 by the U.S.Department of Education Once we improve the completion rate for homework, will that translate into higher test scores? Will these higher test scores come because the teachers can devote more in class time to experiments and work at a lab station? Even though other studies have shown that the same learning can be affected with computer simulations, is there a way to get students more interested and involved in the classroom during the day? A higher percentage of students attach little importance to what is happening in the classroom. Will providing more computer time and/or more time working on hands-on labs rather than “seat” time make their science education more relevant to them? Noguera (2007) reminds us to include the student voice in this discussion as 21
  • 27. students’ can often come up with acceptable solutions to a problem. How homework is implemented can determine whether it will be helpful or a detriment (Hong, Milgram, & Rowell 2004). 22
  • 28. Chapter III 23
  • 29. Chapter IV 24
  • 30. References Bennett, S, & Kalish, N. (2006). The Case against homework: how homework is hurting our children and what can we do about it. New York: Crown Publishers. Bempechat, J. (2004). The Motivational benefits of homework: a social-cognitive perspective. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 189-196. Bonham, S, Beichner, R, & Deardorff, D. (2001). Online homework: does it make a difference?. The Physics teacher, 30, 293-296. Bonham, S, Deardorff, D, & Beichner, R. (2003). A Comparison of student performance using web and paper-based homework in college-level physics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(10), 1050-1071. Bonham, S, Titus, A, Beichner, R, & Martin, L. (2000). Education research using web-based assessment systems. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(1), 282-299. Bryan, T, Burstein, K, & Bryan, J. (2004). Improving homework comletion and academic performance; lessons from special education. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 213-219. Cole, R, & Todd, J. (2003). Effects of web-based multimedia homework with immediate rich feedback on student learning in general chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 80(11), 1338-1343. Conner, C.D. (2004) Teacher attitudes toward the assignment of homework. Tennessee State University, Dissertation Cooper, H, Robinson, J, & Patall, E. (2006). Does Homework improve academic achievement? a synthesis of reserach, 1987-2003. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 1-62. Corno, L. (2000). Looking at homework differently. The Elementary School Journal, 100 (5), 529-548 25
  • 31. Coutts, P.M. (2004). Meanings of homework and implications for practice. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 182-188. DeBell, M., and Chapman, C. (2006). Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003 (NCES 2006–065). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Hong, E, Milgram, R, & Rowell, L. (2004). Homework motivation and preferences: a learner- centered homework approach. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 197-204. Hong, E., Peng, Y., Rowell, L. (2009) Homework self-regulation: Grade, gender, and achievement-level differences. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(2), 269-276. Killoran, I. (2003). Why Is Your Homework Not Done? How Theories of Development Affect Your Approach in the Classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 30(4), 309-315 Kirkwood, A., Price, L. 2005. Learners and learning in the 21st century: What do we know about students’ attitudes towards and experiences of information and communication technologies that will help us design courses? Studies in Higher Education 30(3), 257-74. Kohn, A. (2006a). The Homework myth; why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Philadelphia, PA: De Capo Press. Kohn, A. (2006b). Abusing research; the study of homework and other examples. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(1), Kralovec, E. & Buell, J. (2000). The end of homework: How homework disrupts families, overburdens children, and limits learning. Boston: Beacon Press Kralovec, E, & Buell, J. (2001). End homework now. Educational Leadership, 58(7), 39-42. Landing-Corretjer, G. (2009). Listen to me! An exploration of the students’ voices regarding homework. Doctoral Study, Walden University. 26
  • 32. Latto-Auld, I. (2005). The use of a student-implements intervention to decrease homework problems in elementary school students. Dissertation. MI. ProQuest Information and Learning Company. Lenhart, A., (2009). Teens and social media; an overview. PEW Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org Liang, J. (2002, May 11). Study of the effectiveness of a web-based interactive homework. Retrieved from www.msstate.edu/dept/physics/research/ms-thesis-jie-liang.pdf Marzano, R, & Pickering , D. (2007). The Case for and against homework. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 74-79. Melis, E., Andres, E., Büdenberder, J., Frishauf, A., Goguadse, G., Libbrecht, P., Pollet, M., and Ullrich, C. (2001) A generic and adaptive Web-based learning environment. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education 12 Mendicino, M, Razzaq, L, & Heffernan, N. (2009). A Comparison of traditional homework to computer-supported homework. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(3), 331-358. Noguera, P.A. (2007). How Listening to students can help schools to improve. Theory into Practice, 46(3), 205-211. Prensky, M. (2008b, November-December). The role of technology in teaching and the classroom. Educational Technology. Retrieved December 8, 2008, from http://marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky-The_Role_of_Technology-ET-11-12-08.pdf Pritchard, Morote, World Conference on E-learning in Corporate, Government, HealthCare, and Higher Education, E-Learn 2002: Reliable Assessment with Cybertutor, a Web-Based Homework Tutor 27
  • 33. Roth, V, Ivanchenko, V, & Record, N. (2008). Evaluating stuedent response to webwork, a web- based homework delivery and grading system. Computers & Education, 50, 1462-1482. Salend, S, Duhaney, D, Anderson, D, & Gottschalk, C. (2004). Using the Internet to improve homework communication and completion. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 36(3), 64- 75. Schuster, N. (2009). The Impact of Homework and Homework Preferences in Ninth Grade Geography. University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Simplicio, J.S.C. (2005). Homework in the 21st century: The antiquated and ineffectual implementation of a time honored educational strategy. Education. 126(1), 138-142 Strom, P, Strom, R, Wing, C, & Beckert, T. (2009). Adolescent learning and the internet implications for school leadership and student engagement in learning. NASSP Bulletin, 93(2), 111-121. Trautwein, U. & Koller, O. (2003). The relationship between homework and achievement-still such a mystery. Educational Psychology Review, 15(2), 115-145 Van Voorhis, F. (2003). Interactive homework in middle school: effects on family involvement and science achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 96(6) 323-338 Van Voorhis, F. (2004). Reflecting on the homework ritual: assignments and designs. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 205-212. Whipp, J. (2003). Scaffolding critical reflection in online discussions. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(4), 321-333. Xu, J. (2009). School location, student achievement, and homework management reported by middle school students. The School Community Journal, 19(2), 27-43. 28
  • 34. 29
  • 35. Appendix: Field Project Field Project Title 30