101: Homework & Practice





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  • What research has to say about homework:
    • Amount of homework should differ in elementary, middle and high school.  Homework has a more positive impact on student achievement at higher grade levels.
    • Parent involvement in homework should be kept to a minimum
      • Encourage students to complete homework in a set time and location
    • The purpose of homework should be communicated.
      • Purposes:
        • Practice – build fluency and accuracy in familiar content
        • Preparation – prepare mind for upcoming activities
        • Elaboration – elaborate on familiar content
  • Classroom practices related to homework:
    • Establish and communicate a homework policy – communicate purposes of homework and helpful ways parent can support students at home in homework policy
    • State outcome and purpose of homework assignments
    • Vary approaches for providing feedback on homework
      • homework has more affect on achievement when paired with feedback
      • teacher / self / peer feedback
  • What research has to say about practice:
    • Mastering a skill requires a fair amount of practice spread over time
    • When practicing students should adapt and shape what they learned
      • While shaping skills – students develop conceptual understanding of them
      • During shaping phase – use less problems and more reflection
  • Classroom practices related to practice:
    • Chart speed and accuracy to see if mastery is growing
    • Target specific elements of complex skill or process – ex – one phase of scientific method
    • Include time for students to increase conceptual understanding of skills or processes
Homework and practice provide students with the reps needed to build proficiency in skills.  Knowing how to communicate the purpose of practice & homework and how to implement these effectively can help teachers assign and support homework in ways that are helpful.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide main purposes for assigning homework in a specific course
  • Brainstorm / research helpful ways parents can support student learning at home – e.g. helping them set aside a common location and time for homework, helping them track their completion times
  • Develop a homework policy that communicates the purposes of homework and ways that parents can help students with their homework
Early Implementation Steps
  • As homework sets are assigned explain the purposes for homework and the impacts homework and practice will have on future work
  • Have students track how their understanding and fluency is growing as a result of practice and homework
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Develop homework support systems that give students in-class and out-of-class support on homework
  • Figure out smart ways to incorporate homework into grading systems.  See this article for ideas.



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