Sunday, 15 February 2015

Homework research

Homework has always been an issue for me, from when I was in school to now when I have to mark it. I have been reading Visible Learning by John Hattie  and smiled as he references Richard Russo (Russo, 2007, p.157 in Hattie, 2009, p. 235):

"She tried shit like doing her homework for a while, but it was counterproductive since she always did it wrong. Doing homework wrong, to her, was worse than not doing it at all, because doing it required time and effort and yielded the same results as not doing it, which required neither."

This is what Additional Maths and English were like for me at school; put in a lot of effort and not get the answers correct in maths, or receive greater criticism from the English teacher for misinterpreting what was expected.

Hattie refers to various research on the effect of homework on learning. The main conclusion is that it needs to not be complex, and has the highest effects "when homework involves rote learning, practice, or rehearsal of subject matter."

In an effort to generate time in class to allow students to do more practical investigations and increase their skills, I have been using a flipped learning model where students most access the basic knowledge of the topic and learn that before they attend class. Students access interactive learning resources that have poster style worksheets for them to complete as the view the presentation/video/simulation, after which they most complete a quiz. 

This model has been working but there are those students who do not do what is required of them and are not in a position to do the higher order application of the new knowledge in the investigation context. These students are given the opportunity to access the content with their teacher guiding them in class while the other students carry on developing their independent skills acquisition or application/analysis skills.

I expect students to get 100% on the quizzes; the quizzes provide immediate feedback with the correct answer! If a student can get 100% first time then well done, however if they cannot because they have not viewed the presentation content with an eye to identify and learn the content, then there is an issue. Is the task too complex? Are the students rushing the task? Are they even looking at the presentation before doing the quiz?

I need to eliminate the possibilities. The webpages I place the content in can be traced as to who accesses them and when. I believe I can eliminate the possibility of the students not accessing the content and if they rush the tasks by checking if they access and when. This will leave the possibility that the cloze passage activities I set are too complex--I don't think so, but by letting the students know that I am monitoring what they do and when, if there still is no improvement in their performances  then I can only conclude that complexity is an issue. If this is the case, I will have to reconsider my flip design or, at least, the style of pre-lesson homework I assign.