Homework assignments are tasks that teachers send to students for them to complete after school hours. In general, these activities consist in completing tasks given in the classes, preparing work to be done in subsequent classes, or practicing regular tasks and reviewing for tests and exams. The definition also includes activities such as “out-of-school study groups” where students have the possibility to complete their homework outside of school hours and invested learning activities, where students prepare and work the content at home and then discuss it in classrooms. or take the exams.

Homework is an indispensable and obligatory part of the student’s job and plays an important role in academic success. By doing his homework, the student consolidates his learning and deepens his knowledge. The homework also informs parents about curriculum requirements and content and encourages parents’ participation in their child’s education.

Types of homework

1. Scheduled compulsory homework (at a certain date)

In order to make the most of this learning moment, it is important for the student to do their homework in a quiet place without the help of their parents. Parents should limit themselves to psychological support of the child. However, they can intervene if the child requests it. If a student can not do homework independently, it is important for parents to share it with the teacher.

There is evidence that homework are more effective when used in short, focused periods of time.

There is some evidence that school tasks are more effective when they are used as brief and focused interventions (for example, in the form of a project or a specific objective related to a certain element of learning), with a reduced number of studies that show a Positive impact of up to eight additional months on academic performance. If they are assigned as part of a routine (for example, daily vocabulary exercises or mathematical problem solving), their benefits are likely to be more discrete, with an average progress of up to two or three additional months.

2. Ongoing homework (repetition / learning of vocabulary, etc.)

Homework is a complement to the teaching that is done in class. They come from the school curriculum and are usually done at home. The types of homework can vary according to the degree, the type of class or the specificity of the disciplines. They allow the student to consolidate his learning.

On average, the impact of homework on learning is consistently positive (tending, on average, to an additional five months of learning). However, there is a wide variation of the potential impact, which suggests that, probably, the manner in which the duties are assigned is very important.

Likewise, the evidence points out the importance of relating homework with the subject taught during school hours. In successful cases, they have been an integral part of learning and not just additional activities. To maximize its impact, it also appears relevant that students receive adequate feedback in this regard.

The studies mention that the optimum amount of homework is one to two hours per school day (slightly longer for older students), and that the effects of homework decrease as the time devoted to them increases.

3. Tasks that are the responsibility of the students (eg research)

It is difficult to specify the time to devote to homework because it differs from one student to another. More than the duration, it is the regularity and the frequency of the time devoted to the homework which has a positive impact on the apprenticeships.

When assigning homework, regardless if it will be carried out in the classroom or at home, we must not forget that, all homework must involve:

1. A learning achievement
2. Generic and disciplinary competences .
3. It must be the product of a learning process.
4. They must produce meaningful experiences that stimulate continuous learning.

What pedagogical characteristics should be included in a homework assignment?

In recent years there has been debate over whether it is necessary to continue this practice, since it is sometimes attributed with being unnecessary, which is just a way of avoiding the responsibilities we have as teachers, and there are those who profile it as a punitive activity when students misbehave in class.

But beyond all that debate, what should be pursued with this type of assignment is the autonomy of the student, where they themselves, with minimal help from adults, have the responsibility of carrying out their activity, learning to make decisions and stimulating their creativity by choosing among several options the best way to face the challenge.

Starting from this premise, the homework to be carried out at home must meet the following characteristics:
1. Reinforcement exercises with the same level as those seen in class.
2. Collaborative projects that are exhibited in class with the accompaniment of the teacher.
3. They must be done entirely by the student and his classmates.
4. They should not take place in a time that limits their leisure time with family and friends.
5. In one week, one assignment per subject must be requested.
6. Students should be provided with sources for consultation, i.e. web pages, books, educational portal, etc.
7. If research is assigned, products should be specified through structured schematics of all information to be delivered.
8. Those activities that were assigned to finish in class and the student finished them at home should not be considered homework.
9. Homework should be clear and detailed so that it can be done by students without confusion.

The projects must be produced by the students together with the supervision of the work by the teacher. In other words, this responsibility should not be relegated to the parents.

Important

By no means, more homework means more learning, on the contrary, it can increase exhaustion and therefore disinterest in study.

Tips for a research-associated school assignment
– Provide students with a list of web repositories, libraries, books, journals, etc. of academic and scientific value where they can go to conduct their research.
– Avoid research for the search of definitions or isolated information, without relation to a context linked to the learning objectives.
– Research should demand an added value from the student, therefore, questions should demand a higher level of thinking, i.e.: summarize, analyze, compare synthesize, etc.
– To provide students with standardized formats for the presentation of their research in case it is: an essay, report, reflection, laboratory activity, etc. In order to make it easier for the students to present their homework and for the teacher to present the evaluation indicators.
– The research work should be communicated by the teacher, in advance, accompanied by the learning objectives pursued, the instructions that guide the student’s activity, recommendations, evaluation indicators, etc.

Scheme for structuring a school activity for the home

Homework should be planned to meet their objective within Instructional Design; the idea is to stimulate new challenges and projects.

They must start from a link with the skills with performance criteria, evaluation criteria and indicators, and, at the same time, with situations to real, daily problems, or that simulate reality, in order to generate an added value at cognitive, procedural and attitudinal level.

What aspects of home should we consider before assigning homework?

Other no less important aspects that we must take into consideration before requesting a homework assignment in order to meet the proposed goal and test the learning of students, product of this experience in class are:

  • Socio-economic situation: it is not advisable to leave projects that involve excessive monetary expenditure, since this can affect the family economy, causing students to fail to deliver homework, simply because they cannot cover the costs.
  • Parents’ academic level: The more academic preparation parents have, the more concerned they are about their children’s academic achievement.
  • Uses and customs: greater attention and motivation will be achieved in those school activities with which the student feels identified and has an important value in his daily life.
  • The availability of encounters outside school hours: we must take into account the age of the students, distances from their homes, affinity between them and if they are very young, the relationship between their parents.
  • The level of emotional achievement to be obtained: the fact that parents may be involved in their children’s activities may generate improvements in students’ self-esteem, which will motivate them to study inside and outside the classroom.

Note

The amount of homework should not be excessive, as a large amount of homework can also lead to family distress and conflict.

Recommendations for homework assignments

I therefore recommend that, in order to avoid problems such as frustration and students’ dependence on their parents when doing homework, the following recommendations should be considered:

1. Structure homework in a clear and concise manner to avoid stressing students when doing assignments.
2. At the secondary school level, the teachers of the different subjects must work together in order to organize the homework so that it does not saturate the student and his parents, due to the excessive amount of homework and the short time to carry it out.
3. If an activity is initiated at home, it should be followed up by the teacher until its completion, in order to strengthen confidence in the students.
4. At home, students should reinforce and produce what they have learnt, giving space and time to parents so as not to become saturated with activities that seek to strengthen family unity and recreation.

Conclusions

Homework is a responsibility that, when planned on the basis of the student’s abilities according to age, allows for the acquisition of new skills.

Sometimes and almost always with the best intentions, parents fall into the misunderstanding of always sitting with their children to study, or worse, to do their own homework, thus falling into the so harmful overprotection or inculcating an inappropriate sense of “sacrifice”.

The homework should be done by the students themselves, in a reasonable time, and supervised by the teachers, where the parents will help in the preparation, but the main actors and responsible are our students.

Do not underestimate the homework to be done at home, as activities ranging from painting, writing, solving problems, summarizing, drawing main ideas, to organizing group activities, are very valuable skills no matter how simple they may seem.

These will allow students not only to meet a learning objective, but also become necessary tools to face their lives and be prepared to perform activities as part of the discipline and their daily habits.

The idea of this type of homework is not to limit the hours of spacing of students and their parents, on the contrary, they seek to stimulate creativity, where they will have a challenge to face to get their activity and parents will be their companions to stimulate their curiosity, take initiatives, and develop their inventiveness in order to solve their projects.