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Homework does not help children

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#1 sephardic-male

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 04:16 PM

http://www.physorg.com/news4333.html

Their findings indicated a frequent lack of positive correlation between the average amount of homework assigned in a nation and corresponding level of academic achievement. For example, many countries with the highest scoring students, such as Japan, the Czech Republic and Denmark, have teachers who give little homework. "At the other end of the spectrum, countries with very low average scores -- Thailand, Greece, Iran -- have teachers who assign a great deal of homework," Baker noted.


"The United States is among the most homework-intensive countries in the world for seventh- and eighth-grade math classes. U.S. math teachers on average assigned more than two hours of mathematics homework per week in 1994-95," said LeTendre. "Contrary to our expectations, one of the lowest levels was recorded in Japan -- about one hour a week. These figures challenge previous stereotypes about the lackadaisical American teenager and his diligent peer in Japan."
During the early 1980s, many U.S. schools and teachers ramped up their homework assignments, at least to younger children, in reaction to intense media focus on studies comparing the mediocre performance of American students to the industriousness of their Japanese counterparts. At the same time, ironically, Japanese educators were attempting to reduce the amount of homework given to their students and allow them more leisure from the rigors of schooling. Neither the American nor the Japanese educational reform of the 1980s seems to have affected general achievement levels in either country, according to the book.
"American students appear to do as much homework as their peers overseas -- if not more -- but still only score around the international average," LeTendre said. "Undue focus on homework as a national quick-fix, rather than a focus on issues of instructional quality and equity of access to opportunity to learn, may lead a country into wasted expenditures of time and energy."


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#2 comfortingsong

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 04:30 PM


<snip>

I think a more appropriate thread title, and the message of this article, is that MORE homework does not correlate with better grades. I don't think it's implying that homework, in general, does not help children, in general.

#3 rvn2590

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 04:37 PM

It also depends on how homework is structured as to whether or not it is effective.
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#4 adiel

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 09:29 PM

Maybe the reason for the discrepancy in grades is that children do not do homework. In places where little homework is given, there is less room to lower their grades when they do not do it (which is why their average report card has higher marks). And in places where homework is given, the poor grades are just a reflection of students lacking to hand in their homework.
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#5 Kalashnikover_Rebbe

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 02:38 AM

How old are you that you're still complaining about homework... It's almost cute...
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#6 Xi

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:47 AM

How old are you that you're still complaining about homework... It's almost cute...

Homework in college is far far far far worse than homework in grade school, and is almost as useless.
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#7 33948

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 10:16 AM

What I have discovered is that different Americans receive totally different educations (even in the same school). Generally poor kids, disruptive, somewhat lower performing etc. get sent on a "low track" and are taught almost nothing and then generally kids who have parents who call up the school everyday, demand that their kids be in gifted programs etc. tend to recieve a fairly high level of education in most cases.

When I went to middle and high school I had terrible teachers. They assigned a lot of work but it was all busy work and a total waste of time. They usually did this to "level the playing field" so the dumb kids could score just as well as the smart ones (by basing grades on work rather than academic achievement). There is too much effort to allow stupid kids to do well in school at the expense of everyone else. Homework would be effective if it actually involved learning something. All my time spent in school was spent on mostly busy work, pointless projects and the teacher lecturing about the same subject we have learned over and over again for the past five years (and the kids still don't get it). I learned more on the weekends on my free time would I could actually grab a book and teach myself than I did during five days of the week. That's the problem with our schools.

The only way to learn anything in school is to make sure you are on the successful track (not in the low standards, busy work track which is where the majority of students usually end up). About the only way to get into a good track is to be in honors or in a gifted program. Or send your children to a private school or home school. Egalitarianism is killing our achievement along with politically correct liberal efforts to lessen the achievement gap between minorities and whites.

There are only three classifications of students in American schools: "exceptional" students who are learning disabled (the extremely handicapped), average (this is where a relatively intelligent student will be lumped with students who cannot or will not learn, then the effort will be put into getting the stragglers to pass and thus the vast majority of these "average" students suffer and are given almost no education. This also is because a lot of teachers don't want to do their job), and then there's the honors/gifted group who are given good teachers and actually taught something.

I guess the thinking is that average students are all mostly going to be flipping burgers or working in a factory. They don't really care to teach them anything other than obedience (do your work or fail). They figure the honors students are college bound so actually teach them something. I would say if you aren't in an honors program school is a waste of time. No wonder most children don't like going.

#8 starwolf

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 10:20 AM

Of course the real question is not about the quantity of homework, but the quality. and without measuring that, such studies are worthless.

Homework in college is far far far far worse than homework in grade school, and is almost as useless.


This is not quite true; again, it depends on the subject, and what kind of work is given.
Let me give a couple of examples:
A university statistics class (I have taught a few in my time). In most cases, homework is essential. the student must solve statistics problems during the semester. And the reason is that the student will then come to the exam with enough experience to solve the problems presented on the exam. I have long lost count of the number of students who look at exams (open or closed book) with panic in their eyes. How many students (male and female) have I seen cry when they look at exams? A lot of that is caused by test anxiety, and those cases are easily solved by the instructor telling the student--"you have everything you need in your notes. there are no problems on this exam that you did not solve at home. Take a deep breath, a drink, calm down, and concentrate".

Just like elementary school math, there are some subjects that need practice--and for that, homework is essential.

There are other subjects that require breadth and depth of knowledge that there is simply not enough frontal classroom time to teach. How else can the student learn this than by homework? Of course, this is not the kind of homework that needs to be graded during the year. if the instructor says that the students are responsible for 10 chapters in textbook X, then the students are required to know the material, and that is that. Nobody checks your progress; nothing to hand in. Of course, the instructor should be available to answer questions about that material. Here's a clue: it is easy to distinguish between the students who have been regularly reading during the course of the semester, and those who try to do it all in the week before the final.

In a well-designed course, homework is not useless.

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#9 Emunah613

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 10:27 AM

I am an English teacher. I have between 29-35 students in my classes. It would be impossible to see where their strengths and weaknesses are without regular assignments. Are they having trouble remembering phonetic rules-which ones? How about writing mechanics? Vocabulary? Writing style and content? Homework helps a teacher pick up on areas of excellence and areas needing correction. These can be improved upon by the student by bringing it to her attention before being tested on the material.
As for those who propose no homework-the Chinese and the Russians give three to four hours of homework everyday after school, and it is done without complaint! Students in these countries fortunate enough to attend school usually are well prepared for life. Additionally, the way for any person to become a true lamdan is to review many many times whatever it is that is being taught.

#10 politico

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 05:59 PM

This is not quite true; again, it depends on the subject, and what kind of work is given.

IME, it depends much more on the student. even in subjects that are assumed to need out-of-class practice (math/stats and languages, mostly), some students retain and perform quite well without it.

I am an English teacher. I have between 29-35 students in my classes. It would be impossible to see where their strengths and weaknesses are without regular assignments. Are they having trouble remembering phonetic rules-which ones? How about writing mechanics? Vocabulary? Writing style and content? Homework helps a teacher pick up on areas of excellence and areas needing correction. These can be improved upon by the student by bringing it to her attention before being tested on the material.

what are they so busy with during classtime that you can't gauge their strengths and weaknesses then?
zinh.

#11 Xi

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:01 PM

Of course the real question is not about the quantity of homework, but the quality. and without measuring that, such studies are worthless.

This is not quite true; again, it depends on the subject, and what kind of work is given.
Let me give a couple of examples:
A university statistics class (I have taught a few in my time). In most cases, homework is essential. the student must solve statistics problems during the semester. And the reason is that the student will then come to the exam with enough experience to solve the problems presented on the exam. I have long lost count of the number of students who look at exams (open or closed book) with panic in their eyes. How many students (male and female) have I seen cry when they look at exams? A lot of that is caused by test anxiety, and those cases are easily solved by the instructor telling the student--"you have everything you need in your notes. there are no problems on this exam that you did not solve at home. Take a deep breath, a drink, calm down, and concentrate".

Just like elementary school math, there are some subjects that need practice--and for that, homework is essential.

There are other subjects that require breadth and depth of knowledge that there is simply not enough frontal classroom time to teach. How else can the student learn this than by homework? Of course, this is not the kind of homework that needs to be graded during the year. if the instructor says that the students are responsible for 10 chapters in textbook X, then the students are required to know the material, and that is that. Nobody checks your progress; nothing to hand in. Of course, the instructor should be available to answer questions about that material. Here's a clue: it is easy to distinguish between the students who have been regularly reading during the course of the semester, and those who try to do it all in the week before the final.

In a well-designed course, homework is not useless.

Agreed about the quality vs quantity. That's actually the reason homework is often useless -- it's not that the homework given is in itself unhelpful, but there is too much repetition (which is problematic when homework is mandatory; do it once and you'll learn something, do it seven times and you'll try to procrastinate that homework as much as possible because it will make you vomit).

Same with reading. Often it does supplement the lectures. But then you have classes where the readings are unrelated the the lectures, which means that neither are as useful as they could be.

So I agree, in a well-designed course homework is not useless. But many courses are poorly-designed.
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#12 Xi

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 09:17 PM

To go Bezalelesque, I just completed a lab assignment that, including the report, took several hours. 90% of it was the same as the previous week's lab (with different numbers), and 85% of the time spent doing the lab is going into school to use the computers with special software, fighting with said software, waiting for the software to uncrash, waiting to get a turn to use the FPGAs, and let's not forget, taking a bunch of screenshots and making the report look nice and have the appropriate amount of fluff.

Did I learn anything from the second lab? Only what I had skimped on when doing the first lab, because I knew I had twice the amount of work to do and so dedicated half the time to each.


Then let's move on to the chemistry homework. I happen to find them very useful. But not so useful that I want to do the same problem (with different numbers) twice, or that I want to write 16 (only a bit of exaggeration) electron configurations. I can't say I'm upset that it's mandatory, as I might not have done all types of problems otherwise, but I do wish repetition wasn't mandatory.


And did I really have to compute the encodings and decodings of 8 4-bit patterns? I might've not skipped that homework had we only had to do it twice. But since I can't hand in the homework anyway, I'll just save it for when I have time.
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#13 starwolf

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 12:00 AM

IME, it depends much more on the student. even in subjects that are assumed to need out-of-class practice (math/stats and languages, mostly), some students retain and perform quite well without it.


That is precisely the reason that, in my classes, homework grades do not count.
Nor does turning in assignments.
Nor does attending class.
I think that students at the university level should be responsible enough to know what they need. If they can pass the final without any of the above, fine.

However, if they do not do the work given during the semester, and therefore receive a poor grade on the exam because they did not know how to do a problem that they should have practiced, I do not feel that it is my responsibility to explain what they should have learned, and did not.

Of course, i am aware that many teachers, and many universities, do not agree with the above approach. I also know that it is not usually practical at the junior undergraduate level.


Did I learn anything from the second lab? Only what I had skimped on when doing the first lab, because I knew I had twice the amount of work to do and so dedicated half the time to each.
.....
Then let's move on to the chemistry homework. ...........but I do wish repetition wasn't mandatory.
.....


Sometimes learning things takes repetition, and teachers do not always have the option (or the will) to use the methods I described above.

Also, if the coursework actually requires a laboratory, one of the things that we are trying to teach is lab procedure. for that, actual presence and participation in the lab is necessary, as is writing very detailed reports.

(The above applies to the "wet" sciences. I'm not sure if applies to CS.)

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ


doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#14 int

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 12:11 AM

A lot of that is caused by test anxiety, and those cases are easily solved by the instructor telling the student--"you have everything you need in your notes. there are no problems on this exam that you did not solve at home. Take a deep breath, a drink, calm down, and concentrate".


If only all instructors were as benevolent as this.

Back in college, I had a few courses where the problems on the exam required creative thinking - and not just recall of methods learned in the textbook and their application to the exam questions.

#15 Xi

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 07:08 AM

Back in college, I had a few courses where the problems on the exam required creative thinking - and not just recall of methods learned in the textbook and their application to the exam questions.

At least those exams are fun, and you often don't have to (can't) study for them. Plus everyone fails them which means you pass. ;)
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#16 Xi

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 04:25 PM

That is precisely the reason that, in my classes, homework grades do not count.
Nor does turning in assignments.
Nor does attending class.
I think that students at the university level should be responsible enough to know what they need. If they can pass the final without any of the above, fine.

Oh how I wish you were my professor.

However, if they do not do the work given during the semester, and therefore receive a poor grade on the exam because they did not know how to do a problem that they should have practiced, I do not feel that it is my responsibility to explain what they should have learned, and did not.

Agreed.

Sometimes learning things takes repetition, and teachers do not always have the option (or the will) to use the methods I described above.

Right, you can assign repetition without making it mandatory.

Also, if the coursework actually requires a laboratory, one of the things that we are trying to teach is lab procedure. for that, actual presence and participation in the lab is necessary, as is writing very detailed reports.

(The above applies to the "wet" sciences. I'm not sure if applies to CS.)

I do see that about labs. And yes, a lot of real-world lab work is repetition (although I'm guessing you hand that to your grad student?).

CS labs are often about giving student programming assignments to do in a structured environment (if the lab is structured). Often the lab will involve putting into practice the theory you learn in the lectures (so you'll learn the theory behind, for example, operating systems, and then in the lab you'll actually modify Linux).
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#17 33948

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 02:00 PM

It all depends on the individual. Some people catch on to something quicker than others. If a person is having trouble understanding something he/she should do more practice, reading etc. Because children are irresponsible of course in lower grades they are forced to do the work. Even here the teacher should be flexible and focused on making sure they learn something rather than giving them work only for the sake of keeping them busy (which rarely happens).

Yet by the time someone is in college they should only be given mostly suggested homework (even with math). They should be responsible enough to know how much they need and the final grade should be about 90% to 100% based on tests and other evaluations.

I believe that an emphasis on "participation" and piles of busy work is just a way to dumb down school curriculum. It harms the more intelligent students while boosting the grades of those who really don't undertand what they are doing.

#18 Xi

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:02 PM

I believe that an emphasis on "participation" and piles of busy work is just a way to dumb down school curriculum. It harms the more intelligent students while boosting the grades of those who really don't undertand what they are doing.

Participation is not always ######.
Xi is intimidating, in an endearing sort of way. --Gretchen

#19 starwolf

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 02:09 PM

It all depends on the individual. Some people catch on to something quicker than others. If a person is having trouble understanding something he/she should do more practice, reading etc. Because children are irresponsible of course in lower grades they are forced to do the work. Even here the teacher should be flexible and focused on making sure they learn something rather than giving them work only for the sake of keeping them busy (which rarely happens).

Yet by the time someone is in college they should only be given mostly suggested homework (even with math). They should be responsible enough to know how much they need and the final grade should be about 90% to 100% based on tests and other evaluations.

I believe that an emphasis on "participation" and piles of busy work is just a way to dumb down school curriculum. It harms the more intelligent students while boosting the grades of those who really don't undertand what they are doing.


Let me guess--not a science major........

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ


doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#20 int

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 04:24 PM

Often the lab will involve putting into practice the theory you learn in the lectures (so you'll learn the theory behind, for example, operating systems, and then in the lab you'll actually modify Linux).


Modifying linux is so last century. Modify WIndows instead. Or Leopard.





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