With less than a month to go until the grade-grubbing eager beavers enter my classroom, I once again tackle the ever-challenging question of how to handle homework. I know it’s necessary. If I didn’t make it worth something, the students wouldn’t do it. And if I made it optional, they wouldn’t see that the increased quiz and tests scores would be reward enough for their time and effort for doing such tedious work. In Daniel Pink’s new book Drive, he notes that we should acknowledge the tediousness of homework and offer a small, but worthwhile, carrot.
Sorry, Danny, but I think I am going to disagree here. I truly want the students to understand that completing homework for the sake of the 10-15% homework grade is not the point. Thoroughly and completely solving homework problems creates a familiarity that can only be learned through practice. Students need that practice (let’s be honest, we all need practice to be consistently good at anything) to be proficient. So how can I make sure that my students are practicing proficiency at home and not just going through the motions to get credit for completeness?
My idea is radical. I stole it from a friend who stole it from a speaker (aren’t all good ideas stolen?). I am going to attempt this:
- assign homework, as usual, in class
- make worked-out solutions available online after ~6pm the night of the assignment
- offer clarification during morning tutorial for students who do not understand solutions
- give 2 problem homework quiz at the start of class – no notes, no book, just 2 problems similar to ones assigned and grade on a scale of 0-2 or 0-4 (haven’t decided yet) that assess mastery
In terms of class-time, it will take the same amount of time in class as checking the homework typically does. In terms of my time, it will take a bit of time to grade, but I’m a super grader and my classes are pretty small (thank you private school student:teacher).
Ideas? Suggestions for improvement? Since no one reads this, these questions are basically rhetorical, so I’ll stew on them a bit more in my quickly diminishing spare time…