Working on Homework
Making Homework Matter to Students by Lee Walk and Marshall Lassak
Mathematics Teaching in Middle School, May 1, 2017
In this terrific article, Lee Walk, who teaches 8th grade math and science at Cumberland Middle School in Illinois, walks the reader through his decision to apply in his pre-algebra class current educational research about effective homework practice. Walk provides an excellent summary of several important studies, which demonstrate that while well designed homework results in better learning for students, lengthier assignments or more time on task has virtually no impact on student understanding. Additionally, Walk describes the kinds of homework that dramatically boosts student performance: work with procedures with connections to concepts. Lower level cognitive demands in homework problems, like memorization or procedures without connection to concepts or meaning, had little impact on understanding. Meanwhile, demanding higher level thinking in mathematics is much better suited to work in class where the teacher is present. Walk provides examples of student work, as well. This immensely practical and engaging article is useful to any math or science teacher at any level and would provide a great launching point for collaborative work among math and science faculty who want to improve learning and foster a more positive perception of homework among their students.