homework vs. classworkI am not a proponent of homework. I took a class this past summer titled "Rethinking Homework".  Some of our teachers said that they don't give homework - they assign...

homework vs. classwork

I am not a proponent of homework. I took a class this past summer titled "Rethinking Homework".  Some of our teachers said that they don't give homework - they assign incomplete classwork to be finished at home.  They say that is not the same as homework.  That led to quite a discussion.  I would like input as to what other teachers think.  If a student does not finish their classwork and the teacher chooses to have it completed at home should it be graded? Is it considered classwork or homework? What is the difference between classwork and homework?


Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think at the elementary level, the purpose of homework is to continue practicing knowledge and skills at home.  When I was a 5th grade teacher, homework was to be graded for "completion" only.  I seriously wonder now, how many elementary schools are actually experiencing success with such a practice.  Without parental involvement at home, homework simply doesn't happen.  Then, at the high school level, I think there needs to be a transition away from skill-building and toward time-management.  After all, in college, there is no "homework" per se, but rather, "studying" and simply staying caught up with the material.

As a high school English teacher, I never assign "homework."  In fact, in my public school, I most often require students to complete in-class work before the bell rings.  Otherwise, many students would use the excuse, "I'm going to finish this at home," to sleep through the last 45 minutes of class, and never do the homework.

I realize things are different in a math classroom, where there actually isn't enough time to master a lesson during class time.  But rather than fighting a set of social norms that are out of my control, I've simply decided to work with what I have to be as successful as possible.  This means doing almost everything with my students IN CLASS.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sorry to be the sole dissenter here; but as a high school teacher, I am a firm believer in homework. There is not enough time in class for me to cover the material AND allow time for re-enforcement, reading, etc. A substantial amount of the homework I assign is reading, although I do require some written responses. I am sure there are instances when kids copy each others work; but I can usually detect that rather quickly. A few well placed zeroes and a phone call home usually puts a stop to that.

Aside from re-enforcement, drill and practice, etc., the unwritten curriculum we all teach is accountability and responsibility. When these kids get to college, they are not going to be allowed to finish work in class. It's not technically "homework," but a rose by any other name.... School is not jail where one serves ones time and is released after twelve years. A high school diploma must be earned. To me, the "earning" process is part of the "learning" process. There are a million and one reasons for not assigning homework; but I don't buy any of them. In fifteen years in the classroom, I have yet to have a problem with homework except with the select few who wouldn't do it under any circumstances.

pacorz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it's important to distinguish the type and purpose of homework, and to apply the correct tool to get the desired outcome. Reading assignments certainly are an appropriate tool to conserve valuable class time, particularly when the assigned material is to be discussed in class, or is necessary background to the day's work. On the other hand, simply assigning a chapter of the textbook to be read as a way to avoid actively teaching the material is not appropriate.

I assign problems in chemistry and physics to help students reinforce and retain new skills; however I advise students to be sensible and attempt to do part of the assignment well, rather than rushing through or copying someone else's work just to fill up the paper. If a student gets the first six problems right on the first try, does he really need to do all ten to  prove he has mastered the material?

One thing that homework should not be is punishment. We all have an arsenal of corrective strategies for students who need to be redirected, and we need to use it; slapping an extra twenty pages or problems on them is never going to bring about a cooperative attitude.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problem with homework is that teachers have lost touch with reality when it comes time to assign it. For example, very FEW teachers realize that homework should be a revision of skills that have ALREADY been mastered in order to give the student the chance to demonstrate deeper-analysis of the same skill, and even provide demonstration of an extension.

Homework should be given, yes, but should be given correctly:

-After a lesson has been taught and assessed as a form of refresher.

-As a way to further explore a topic that is ALREADY well known- Google anyone?

-As a way to allow students to extend their schema with creativity.

- As a way to re-expose students to a topic that has been already worked with thoroughly.

This is the only way for students to remain motivated, build more connections, and even enjoy working on an after-school activity which they can master and even add to creatively.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not like assigning homework given the fact that there are certain subjects that my own children bring home that I have trouble with. I know that many parents face this same problem. First, they simply do not remember algebraic equations or what a theme is. Second, many parents do not like to admit to their children that they do not know how to help them.

I keep "homework" in the classroom so that I can help my students and answer their questions as they move through the assignment. I also give plenty of time towards the end of class so they always have time to complete any material needed for the week.

I never give assignments that are due for the following day- they always have multiple days to complete (if homework is given- which is rare). Therefore, if they do not complete the work, they simply have no excuse. I have given them time in class.

I hope that helps.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post #7 -- As a high school English teacher I assign a lot of homework.  The students must read nightly in preparation for the next day's discussion or activity.  I don't have time in my school year to let them have reading time in class and I can't imagine doing it either.  What a waste of their time with the teacher! I also assign short writing responses that are follow-up to to a class discussion or are in anticipation of the next day's lesson.  I use a good variety of quick formative assessments to ensure that students have done their homework and are therefore prepared to participate in the day's lesson.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the previous posts have established that there is no one correct answer for all content areas and all grade levels.

As a middle school social science teacher, I assigned very little homework. I was interested in insuring that my students thought about, reacted to, and hopefully internalized the ideas and concepts being introduced in class. The best way I could find to evaluate those outcomes was to create situations that required students completing activities in the classroom during class time.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't give homework because I do not think it is useful.  I teach history and government and other social science classes.  I assign reading from the book and give study guides to help the students know what they should get from the reading.  But I do not assign graded homework because it encourages people to get grades simply by copying from others.  I do not think homework (in my area, at least) is a useful way of getting students to actually learn anything.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm in total agreement with #7 on this one. Most of my homework is reading and/or responding; without their work tonight, we don't have as much to begin with tomorrow. My class time is too valuable to waste on things students can do on their own, and students practice the basic life skill of accountability when they have something constructive to accomplish.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
It depends on what the classwork is. There are some times when classwork is repetitive and I have students finish it at home. For example, grammar practice. For the most part, there are only three types of homework I assign: practice, reading and studying.
parkourfreak | Student

hi im the only student here in this discussion so i would like to give my opinion. I am totally for the idea of classwork which if not finished in class becomes homework. In my experience, we work harder so that we have no work to do at home. I think that excluding important common assesment assignments which take more than 2 weeks to complete, homework is not needed.