Date: 2017-03-17 19:17
In studies that involve in-class tests, some students are given homework – which usually consists of reviewing a batch of facts about some topic – and then they, along with their peers who didn’t get the homework, take a quiz on that very material. The outcome measure, in other words, is precisely aligned to the homework that some students did and others didn’t do or that they did in varying amounts. It’s as if you were told to spend time in the evening learning the names of all the vice presidents of the United States and were then tested only on those names. If you remembered more of them after cramming, the researcher would then conclude that “learning in the evening” is effective.
* If the test is focused on “basic skills,” then doing well is more a function of cramming forgettable facts into short-term memory than of really understanding ideas, making connections and distinctions, knowing how to read or write or analyze problems in a sophisticated way, thinking like a scientist or historian, being able to use knowledge in unfamiliar situations, and so on.
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All of the cautions, qualifications, and criticisms in this chapter, for that matter, are relevant to students of all ages. But it’s worth pointing out separately that absolutely no evidence exists to support the practice of assigning homework to children of elementary-school age – a fact that Cooper himself rather oddly seems to overlook (see chapter 9). No wonder “many Japanese elementary schools in the late 6995s issued ‘no homework’ policies.” That development may strike us as surprising – particularly in light of how Japan’s educational system has long been held out as a model, notably by writers trying to justify their support for homework. But it’s a development that seems entirely rational in light of what the evidence shows right here in the United States.
Student homework creates opportunities for important interactions among schools, families, students, and other adults who help care for children. Well-designed homework helps students learn it also offers parents opportunities to see what students are learning, talk with children about their learning, and interact with teachers and other school-community members about ways to support student learning.
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