Thursday, February 18, 2016

44 features of effective homework!

I'm doing a workshop this weekend, "Do your homework!" at the BCTEAL
Regional Conference in Victoria, British Columbi
, that focuses on good homework practices in English Language Teaching.
Although there is some obvious overlap in the 44 parameters that we pulled from research on homework in general, much of it from North America and Europe (See Reference Section), it is still a helpful inventory. Here is an adapted version of the workshop handout. Just for fun, go through it and see just how many features are evident in your courses (or at least your thinking!) If you can think of more, please add them as comments!
Some parameters of effective homework 

do it?
1. Differentiated (for individuals)

2  Can be done independently (with no help from parents or other students)

3. Get started on homework in class

4. Students understand the purpose and value

5. Developmentally appropriate

6. Allows students choice(s) in what to do

7. Students can stop when they believe they understand the  concept well enough

8. Graded (but not figuring in to course grade)

9. Comments requiring follow up

10. Subject matter differences evident.

11. Optimal hours per week? (max 2 per day/night)

12. Integration with lesson(s) recognizable and consistent

13. Student autonomy encouraged

14. Time management required or encouraged

15. Scaffolding implicit or explicit

16. Mentoring/coaching function evident

17. “embodied practice” (Do something other than sit and think and take notes.)

18. Data management system supplied

19. Multi-modality practice

20. Overlearning (especially for beginners)

21. Homework practice interviews done with instructors

22. Tasks that cannot be performed in class

23. Predicted time required indicated

24. Tracking actual homework task time

25. Homework counts toward grades

26. Homework packets provided

27. Recognized benefits to students & teacher presented and acknowledged

28. Effective in class follow up (i.e., checking homework orally; checking homework on the board; and collecting and grading homework)

29. Student “enjoyment” of homework

30. Online applications and storage

31. Cultural expectations met or moderated

32. Gains (8 ~ 31%) evident

33. Reflective practice required

34. Meta-cognitive (planned practice)

35. “learning lexicon” developed over time by students and/or instructor

36. Incidental study recognition

37. Portfolio review

38. Student recommendations, evaluations of homework effectiveness

39. “Filing” system required and reviewed

40. Homework ethnography (f2f interviews focusing on more than just practice)

41. Group homework proposals and review

43. Demonstrates competence

44. Is aesthetically pleasing

Selected references
Cooper, H., Robinson, J., & Patall, E. (2006). Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987–2003 Review of Educational Research 76:1, 1-62.
Galloway, M., Conner, J., & Pope, D. (2013). Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools, Journal of Experimental Education, 81:4, 490-510.
Ozkan E., & Henderson, D.  (2011). Are we wasting our children’s time by giving them more homework?, Economics of Education Review Economics of Education Review, 30:5, 950-961.
National Education Commission on Time and Learning (1994). Retrieved February 2, 2016,
The Hechinger report (2015). Retrieved from
Rosario, P., Nunez, J., Vallejo, G., Cunha, J., Nunes, T., Suarez, N., Fuentes, S., & Moreira, T. (2015) The effects of teachers' homework follow-up practices on students' EFL performance: a randomized-group design
ASCD (2007). The case for and against homework. Retrieved February 4, 2016,
Challenge Success (2012). Retrieved February 2, 2016,
Vatterott, C. (2016). Retrieved February 2, 2016,
Safakova, Z. (2015). Reasons for doing/not online homework: insights from EFL students, A. & Cubri, M. (Eds).  ECEL2015-14th European Conference on e-Learning, 510-518.

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