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
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 2010Under the guidance and approval of the committee and approval by all the members, thisfield 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
TOURO UNIVERSITY CALIFORNIA College of Education Author ReleaseName: Lauren NourseThe Touro University California College of Education has permission to use my MAthesis or field project as an example of acceptable work. This permission includes theright to duplicate the manuscript as well as permits the document to be checked out fromthe College Library or School website.In addition, I give Dr. Pamela Redmond permission to share my handbook with others viathe Internet.Signature: __________________________________Date: ______________________________________
i Table of ContentsCHAPTER I.............................................................................................................1Statement of the Problem...............................................................................................................................1Background and Need....................................................................................................................................1Purpose of the Project....................................................................................................................................1Project Objectives...........................................................................................................................................1Definition of Terms.........................................................................................................................................1Summary.........................................................................................................................................................1ABSTRACT............................................................................................................1 READING OTHER PROJECTS FOR THIS CLASS ONE REALIZES THAT THEPROBLEMS WE ARE FACING AS TEACHERS ARE COMMONTHROUGHOUT THE ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES. OUR REASON FORINVESTIGATING THE USE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY IS TO ALLOWTEACHERS TO BETTER CONNECT WITH OUR STUDENTS WHO HAVEGROWN UP AS TECHNOLOGY NATIVES (HATZIGEORGIOU, 2009).STUDENTS SEEM TO BE FEELING MORE AND MORE DISCONNECTEDFROM SCHOOL WITH EACH PASSING YEAR. THEY QUESTION THERELEVANCE OF THE SUBJECT BEING TAUGHT AND DON’TUNDERSTAND HOW THIS VARIETY OF TOPICS CAN FORM A MAJORFOUNDATION FOR THEIR FUTURE EDUCATION AND, MOREIMPORTANTLY, FOR THEIR LATER SUCCESS IN THE WORK PLACE.(PRENSKY, 2008B) IN OUR EFFORTS TO FIND WAYS TO HELP STUDENTSWANT TO ENGAGE, WE MUST INVESTIGATE HOW WE AS TEACHERS CANUSE THESE NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT STUDENTS USE DAILY (OR EVENHOURLY). .............................................................................................................2CHAPTER II............................................................................................................8CHAPTER III.........................................................................................................23CHAPTER IV........................................................................................................24APPENDIX: FIELD PROJECT............................................................................30Field Project Title.........................................................................................................................................30
Chapter IStatement of the ProblemBackground and NeedPurpose of the ProjectProject ObjectivesDefinition of TermsSummary AbstractThere is an ever increasing complaint from high school teachers that the students we are sendingfrom the junior high are not prepared for the rigors of their classes. Given the premise thathomework is a necessity when learning to work independently and in developing self-disciplineand responsibility the teachers at Martinez Junior High School instituted a homework lunch forstudents who did not complete math and science homework when due. The purpose was toprovide 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 forhomework to be done on line and will this increase homework completion rates?
2 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 asteachers are common throughout the academic disciplines. Our reason for investigating the useof educational technology is to allow teachers to better connect with our students who havegrown up as technology natives (Hatzigeorgiou, 2009). Students seem to be feeling more andmore disconnected from school with each passing year. They question the relevance of thesubject being taught and don’t understand how this variety of topics can form a major foundationfor 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 investigatehow 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 translateinto higher test scores? How do I cover the language of science and insure students have thebackground needed to understand our curriculum without asking for some effort on their partoutside 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) homeworkgets 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 assignmentsare completed and returned to students with constructive comments (Mendicino, Razzaq &Heffernan, 2009). In addition, students benefit from completing homework and learning to workindependently. Homework also helps to develop self-discipline and responsibility. Given this
3information I wanted to find research that supported my belief that homework is an essential partof 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 concludethat homework does improve academic achievement. In spite of these studies, the perceptionpersists and in fact is growing among teachers and administrators that homework is no longer anessential piece of the educational puzzle (Kralovec & Bell, 2003). In an attempt to increase homework completion rates in our eighth grade science classeswe have been keeping an accurate tally of students who do not turn in assignments on time. Theyare 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 fourmonths of this program there has been little or no improvement in percentage of homework turnin. 40-50% of students routinely do not turn in their assignments on time. In an effort to improvethis turn in rate I have investigated studies that offer options to the traditional pen-and-paperhomework cycle. The Mendicino fifth grade study concluded that there was a significant improvement inlearning for students who completed the homework using the Web-based model. In a collegelevel study, results were negligible. That study concluded that web-based homework is a goodalternate but not necessarily a replacement for traditional general homework (Liang, 2002). Even though the college level physics results did not show any significant difference inlearning outcomes, the study did report a higher level of homework completion for those who
4completed the web-based homework. They also reported that students found the web-basedhomework 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 inhomework. In our continuing efforts to engage students in the academic process it appears wemust 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 makingassumptions that ALL students have access to and routinely use the internet and othertechnology. 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 theircomputer 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 needto an assessment of the conditions under which students do their homework. Items needing to beassessed would include: a) when and where homework is done; b) lighting conditions; c) studyspace or surface; and d) music, television, or other noise level factors. From that point, testingparameters would be established and a research time period set.Purpose The purpose of the project is to take existing homework assignments and compare therates of homework completion between students using the traditional pen-and-paper style versushomework completed on-line and returned to the teacher via the web. Will there be an increasein homework completion rates as indicated by several prior studies? (Bonham, Beichner, &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?
5Project Objectives Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? With this project I hope to determinewhat type of homework is necessary to encourage students to do their homework. I anticipategiving 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 deemworthwhile. The project will call for implementation of the use of online homework assignments for atleast one project at MJHS. In addition, it will be necessary to find routine weekly homeworkassignments that can be done online. Hopefully this project will open dialogue and debate atMJHS as to the effectiveness and worth of homework in our specific community.Summary The hypothesis is that web-based homework, particularly well-designed homework witha web component, can provide an alternative to traditional types of homework. Can we createmore opportunities for homework to be done on line and will this increase completion ofhomework assignments and by extension improve student test scores? Will on-line homeworkimprove understanding of the material and thus create improved test scores? Lastly, will this bejust a novelty to students who will be interested in completing this new style initially but quicklytire and return to old habits?Definitions:Blog or Web Log – A blog (short for "web log") is essentially an online journal or diary whereone can post messages, photos, music and video on their own.(http://absolute-digital.co.uk/glossary.php)Blogger – A contributor to a blog or online journal (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/blogger)
6Computer-based homework: A more general term for any type of homework graded by acomputer, including web-based homework.Critical pedagogy- process of learning and relearningDigital Literacy – The ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks tolocate, 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 ascomputers, 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 ormost aspects of the new technology. (Prensky, 2001)High quality homework -well prepared cognitively engaging tasks of varying difficulty andinvolving 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 athome. The activity or activities are not constrained to one subject or content area, but it can alsobe based on abstract thinking skills and requires mental effort and discipline (adapted fromCooper 2006, Corno 2000, and Taback 2005).Meaningful learning- occurs when students select and organize relevant visual and verbalinformation and systematically integrate the newly constructed visual and verbal representations.Paper-based homework- the more traditional method of students working out their solutions onpaper, turning these in for grading, and, after a delay of a few days to a few weeks, receiving thepapers back with written comments on them.
7Web 2.0 – The term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web that isfocused 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 browserand Internet connection (2) password authenticates the user, (3) delivers assignments to studentsand receives their answers (4) grades student work automatically and (5) keeps a permanentrecord of student scores which the instructor can access at a latter time.
8 Chapter IIIntroduction Why have students in a suburban middle school stopped completing homework in everincreasing 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 teacherswant their students to gain from completing the assigned tasks? If in fact homework has becomea lightning rod for educational change, how can we facilitate that change and still keep thecomponents of homework that are important to teachers and parents and still motivate students tohigher rates of completion? Some investigations have suggested the reasons for non-completioninvolve 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 tocomplete work (Krovalec & Buell, 2001). Some researchers maintain that the assignedhomework is inappropriate (Marzano & Pickering, 2007). Still others maintain that the studentvoice 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 mustlearn from these various studies and employ some new web based methods for completinghomework. As one might expect, the issue of homework creates a complicated debate. Whilesome feel homework is punitive and a detriment to students and families, (Kohn, 2006), otherresearch has shown nice improvements in student learning when assigned homework iscompleted (Mazzino, Brock, & Heffernan, 2009). Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) in theirseemingly exhaustive research of the effects of homework found that homework improveslearning but leaves the door open for more study (p. 53). Some of the studies they investigatedsuggest significant correlation between homework and achievement. There were differing
9conclusions based on grade level and subject matter, which leads the topic open to futureinvestigation. Coutts (2004) argued that more homework is needed to achieve educationalexcellence. The debate rages on as to the necessity of homework. Homework is such a complicated issue. The ever-changing demographics of acommunity and the classroom continually cloud the issue of homework’s worth. Those whosubscribe to the theory that homework is evil, tend to focus on the amount of time it takes for astudent to complete the homework. This can create conflict at home between parents andstudents (Kohn, 2006a). Simplicio (2005) offers the argument that because there is littleconsistency between teachers on amounts and types of assigned homework students cannotadequately plan for homework time. This then leads to an investigation of the type of homeworkassigned: routine worksheets based on the day’s lesson, practice, review, research for a report, orperhaps a response to an inquiry based lesson. There are also homework assignments that fallunder the non-instructional design (Xu, 2005). These include punishment assignments, socialskill development, and homework involving parents that is intended intended to improvecommunication between parents and students. Those who support homework feel that itpromotes a positive attitude towards school, cements the classroom learning, and helps to dispelthe notion that learning occurs only in school. Homework also reinforces concepts introduced inthe 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 toolthat can contribute to the advancement of children’s education, or it can do more damage thangood to their education and development. The difference between the two outcomes depends onthe quality of decisions as how to homework is implemented” (p. 203).
10Theoretical Rationale Killoran (2003) proposed that there are four theories of development that can be appliedto the homework question. These development theories can be used to explain many of thereasons for not completing homework and can also be used to specify what interventions couldbe 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 activelearning and allowed students to investigate new ways to solve old problems. Students used theweb and Internet to complete routine homework assignments. This study proposed to examine if
11they could become active learners using a medium they have embraced. Xu (2005) suggestedthat when students complete homework for intrinsic reasons, the result is a higher grade. Hedefined intrinsic characteristics as ones that develop responsibility, allow the learner to workindependently, help them to learn study skills, develop good discipline and reinforce schoollearning. One piece to the homework puzzle is to ask why a teacher assigned the homework in thefirst place – what were they hoping students would get out of the assignment and how long didthe teacher think it would take the student to complete the assigned work. Some of the researchstudies focused on the value of the assigned homework (Marzano & Pickering, 2007). Therewere fewer studies that addressed the ideas of computer-based homework. There were somestudies on the effect of web-based versus paper and pencil based homework at the university andupper 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 thefoundation they need for science literacy and comprehension. It asked, could a teacher createhomework that would combine student love of the computer and its instant gratification withinstant feedback on assigned homework? Would this then translate into better understanding?Would this create better science literacy? More importantly, would this create a greater interestin science learning? Having been born into an era in which technology surrounds them, studentsborn after 1991 can be considered Digital Natives. While they access technology and the internetdaily through their computers and cell phones, it is usually for social networking purposes ratherthan for educational reasons. It is increasingly important to integrate the student’s use oftechnology into classroom instruction for Digital Natives. The custom of students having a
12passive 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, andthe 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. Marzanoand Pickering (2007) looked at both sides of the homework issue. They reviewed the work of 7studies 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 asense of competition” (p. 74). Analyzing Bennett and Kalish (2006 as cited in Marzano &Pickering, 2007), Marzano and Pickering ascertained that too much homework can harmstudents’ health and family time. They also suggested that most homework is not designed welland teachers are not trained in how to assign homework. Another study examined by Marzanoand Pickering took aim at other homework researchers and said that they fail to show thathomework is effective (Kohn, 2006 as cited in Marzano & Pickering, 2007). Homework shouldbe designed to involve activities appropriate for the home. Marzano and Pickering take note thatKohn may have misunderstood or misrepresented the research which then sent the wrongmessage that research does not support homework. The Marzano and Pickering study suggestedthat inappropriate or poorly designed homework may even decrease student achievement. Krovalec and Buell (2001) discussed how homework punishes students in poverty whomay not have the time or place or equipment to adequately complete homework. In their followup to a study in the 1990s on why students drop out, an inability to complete homework was amajor factor. This study led to a further analysis of other research reports and interviews withteachers, parents, high school dropouts, and current high school students. In addition to being
13punitive on those who are poor, their investigations showed that homework can be a major factorin disrupting family life and being a major cause of family conflict. They suggested thatacademic skills needed to complete long-term independent projects should be taught within theschool day. The drill and practice that is so often assigned as homework would be better placedwithin the school day to allow students to get help when needed when they are stuck or lackunderstanding. 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 thevarious studies. His investigations rebutted those studies that showed a positive effect ofhomework on younger children. He went on to suggest that giving homework is just a form ofpunishment. Why does a teacher bother assigning homework? Connor (2004) reported that teachersassign homework with the notion that they do it to “promote good attitudes toward school, toimprove study habits, to dispel the notion that learning occurs only in school, and to allowparents 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 littleprofessional development in what constitutes effective and well-designed homework. Schuster’s study involved 9th grade geography students (2009). In addition to measuringthe impact of homework on learning, the study also measured the impact of student homeworkpreferences on homework completion and on learning. Schuster’s investigation also involved a
14study of the homework environment, time management, the handling of distractions, amonitoring of motivation, and the controlling emotions related to homework. This research didnot find an improvement in quiz scores for those students assigned homework. Thus one is leftpondering 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 studentunderstanding, promote responsibility, and provide for practice. Cooper, Robinson, and Patell(2006) completed a major study updating their 1989 study investigating over 69 studies onhomework 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 allrevealed that homework had a positive effect on unit tests. Because Cooper’s investigation ofhomework studies was so vast, there was difficulty in connecting the effects of homework onachievement due to the different foci for each of the studies. Looking at nine studies that useddata collected as part of various waves of the National Education Longitudinal Study, he foundthat all but one had a positive association with homework. There were 12 other studies thatexamined the relationship between homework and achievement in Cooper’s analysis. Again,positive results between homework and achievement were recorded although caution wasadvised 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 tonarrow the research to look for the impact of web and internet based homework on learning.
15Mendicino, Razzaq and Heffernan (2009) conducted a study of 54 5th graders. Using acounterbalanced experimental design they got positive quantitative results. They ascertained thatstudents learned significantly more with web-based homework than with paper and pencil basedhomework. In their short 1 week study, they compared the effects of web-based homeworkusing the ASSISTment system to the effectiveness of paper and pencil homework. TheASSISTment system was used to provide tutoring at each step of the homework. Each tutoringstep was constructed around a cognitive model of the problem-solving knowledge students haveand the knowledge needed to solve each problem. It was modeled as a set of independentproduction rules which represented different pieces of knowledge. The ASSISTment systemprovided both interactive scaffolding and hints on demand. The results of this study showed thatstudents performed better on assessments after using the web-based homework. Salend, Duhaney, Anderson and Gottschalk (2004) found that setting up a homework siteon the internet was an effective tool to guide students and their families when attempting tocomplete homework successfully. Several studies Roth, Ivanchenko, and Record (2007),Pritchard and Morote, (2000), and Melis, et al (2001) focused on the effectiveness of variouscollege 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 largenumbers of homework assignments. Getting information back to the student in a timely fashionwas shown to be a key in the student’s better comprehension of material. It appeared thatlooking at ways to improve assessment is critical. Cole and Todd (2003) studied the use ofcomputer animation and multimedia presentations. This was also a college level study. Whilethey found that all forms of computer based instruction were effective at the college level theirresearch showed that they were somewhat less effective at the pre-college level. Strom, Strom,
16Wing, and Becket (2007) found that students considered internet homework to be helpful andfound that understanding of topics was increased. In addition, independent learning wasfacilitated and the internet allowed for more practice with research skills. Bonham, Becker, andDeardorff (2001) in their study of 294 college physics students found that while there was littledifference in performance between web and paper assignments, students generally preferred todo their homework on the web. This was also the finding of Liang’s (2002) study of students incourses in introductory college level physics. Table 1 presents a summary of the major advantages and disadvantages surrounding thehomework debate as highlighted in the majority of the research.Table 1:Summary of Homework Pluses and MinusesAdvantages Disadvantages • Integrates separately learned skills and • Major cause of stress in students’ concepts lives • Dispels notion that learning occurs only • Major cause of family stress in school • Supplements in-school academic • Can promote a negative attitude activities; reinforces school learning toward school • Prompts greater self direction and self • Can deny students access to leisure discipline 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 obstaclesTable 2:Summary of Recent Studies on Effectiveness of Homework
17 Author Date Sample Age, Quantitative Qualitative difference in Grade and difference in performance. gender performance1. 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 2003 College No measurable Appreciated on line Todd freshman quantitative component of homework effect on the High GALT students students outcome preferred paper and pencil Low GALT students preferred web and liked immediate feedback to HW3, Razza and 2009 5th graders Yes: students Students take hw more Heffernan 50% male learned more seriously when they 50% female with Web-based know it will be graded hw than with paper-and pencil hw.4. Cooper, 2006 K-12 Yes: doing hw Of 69 studies, 50 were Robinson, & 1987- improved positive and 19 were Patall 2003 academic negative pg 48 achievement. Too much hw leads to More effect at poor attitude towards middle and upper school grades than elementary.5. Schuster 2009 9th graders No: hw had little Inconclusive relationship impact on between homework and learning in quiz scores and geography homework preferences and homework completion and homework preferences and quiz scores6. Pritchard & 2000 Yes Final exam, weekly tests, Morote and Socratic tutor Tutor based assessment
18 was able to provide more accurate was to deal fairly with students’ capabilities (pg 6)7. Bonham, 2001 College Student Students overwhelmingly Beichner, & physics performance was preferred web-based hw Deardorff similar between system. paper and web sections (pg 294)8. Bonham, 2003 College No statistical More effective for Deardorff, & physics difference teacher in assessing Beichner student work9. Roth, 2008 Postsecondary Students perceptions Ivenchecnko & math and positive: liked immediate Record science feedback Resubmissions of workEvery 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 studentsassigned homework and those not assigned homework, studies 3, 4,and 6 do show a measurableimprovement. In addition, studies 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 suggested students prefer using a web-basedhomework system.Student Engagement and Student Perception It would be a common conclusion to assume that the findings of Cooper’s study lead to aconclusion that there is a distinct and measurable value to homework. However, broadening theresearch base revealed articles and books with distinctly different opinions. Schuster, in his 2009study of ninth grade geography students, found inconclusive evidence that homework improvedquiz scores. Kohn (2006a, 2006b) in several books and articles argued that homework is usuallyassigned simply because it is expected of teachers to assign homework. Kohn contends thathomework “should not be assigned unless there are good data to demonstrate its value for moststudents” (p7). There is also a body of research that discussed how little teachers really know
19about the homework they assign-how long it will take a student and what their reasons are forassigning it. Often student teachers are given little or no instruction on how to decide whatmakes a good homework assignment. Bryan and Burstein (2004), who are pro-homework, foundthat the amount of homework completed had an effect on student academic achievement, incontrast to the amount of homework assigned. These arguments gave rise to the idea thatstudents 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 arelooking for teachers to hop on the digital bandwagon. Mendicino, Razzaq and Heffernan in their2009 study of 5th graders found that students learned significantly more with web-basedhomework as compared to traditional paper and pencil homework. Strom, Strom, Wing, andBeckert (2009) reminded us that students now consider the internet to be their most importantsource for most anything. Recent reports suggested that adolescents spend upwards of 15 hoursa week online. This has been refuted by another study suggesting that the amount of timestudents 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 ofhomework 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 statisticsCoutts (2004) reported that many mid and high school students find homework to be sociallyisolating. According to Lenhart and Madden’s 2007 survey, 87% of students go online dailyafter school. Teachers must begin to tap into this technology to facilitate the digital native’slearning. Students like the fact that on the internet they can proceed at their own pace. Withstudent participation in social networking sites so high, there is an avenue opening for online
20teamwork tasks and use of the internet to expand group learning. A student’s perceptions ofhomework 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 thenone must answer the question of how that achievement is measured. Relative to this study, whileit would seem that achievement in science could be measured in terms of science literacy andcuriosity about the topic, the reality is that achievement must hold to our state and nationalmeasures of judging literacy which currently is by standardized tests scores. More recent studies showed that students prefer using the web and computer for theirhomework regardless of its direct impact on test or quiz scores. Prensky (2007) suggested thatstudents are asking for new technologies since they realize how useful they can be. As Strom etal (2009) reported, students are frustrated by teachers who do not embrace the digitalenvironment. As Digital Natives they are said to prefer receiving information quickly; are adeptat 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 oncommunications technologies to access information and to carry out social and professionalinteractions (Prensky 2001). As we can see from Figure 1, students are spending increasingly larger amounts of timeon the internet. As adolescents increase their online time, it will be important to tap into theirbelief 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 tomiddle school students. There is strong evidence that teachers can lead the way in showing
21students 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 testscores? Will these higher test scores come because the teachers can devote more in class time toexperiments and work at a lab station? Even though other studies have shown that the samelearning can be affected with computer simulations, is there a way to get students more interestedand involved in the classroom during the day? A higher percentage of students attach littleimportance to what is happening in the classroom. Will providing more computer time and/ormore time working on hands-on labs rather than “seat” time make their science education morerelevant to them? Noguera (2007) reminds us to include the student voice in this discussion as
22students’ can often come up with acceptable solutions to a problem. How homework isimplemented can determine whether it will be helpful or a detriment (Hong, Milgram, & Rowell2004).
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