Research - Homework and Practice

Homework

  • There is evidence that students who do more homework (and watch less TV) have higher grades, even when other factors are considered (SES, gender, ethnicity, etc.). (Cooper, et al.)
  • Students should see the connection between the lesson and the homework. Also students must understand the assignment and be able to do it independently, with minimal help needed from parents. (Woolfolk, 2001).
  • Differentiate the amount of homework per grade level (increase with grade level). Studies have not revealed a specific number of minutes per night that is ideal, but homework is recommended for 2nd grade and up.
  • Hold students accountable for homework. Providing feedback does not have to be limited to teacher feedback or a grade. Students can check each other's work, for example.
  • Communicate homework expectations and policies as well as learning objectives for the unit to families. This can be in the form of a calendar, list, or posted on the Internet. (Woolfolk, 2001).

Practice

  • In order to master a skill, practice is required. Students reached 80 percent proficiency after practicing the skill approximately 24 times. (Anderson; Newell & Rosenbloom, cited in Marzano, et al.)
  • Students should practice to attain automaticity.
  • While practicing, students should focus on understanding the processes and/or reasoning behind the concept.
  • To learn new language, students need to USE it. Structured Oral Language Practice routines ensure each student practices utilizing new language multiple times during every lesson. (Levy & Dutro, 2008). Constructing Meaning: Explicit Language for Content Instruction.
  • David A. Sousa (2006), in How the Brain Learns, calls practice "rehearsal." He recommends using different types of rehearsal methods:

"simple repetition" (oral practice for remembering shorter items)

"cumulative repetition" (oral repetition, adding on parts for longer items such as songs and poems)

"paraphrasing" (orally restating ideas in their own words)

"selecting & note taking" (review items and decide which items are important; adding kinesthetic exercise of writing increases retention)

"predicting" (students predict upcoming material-keeps students focused and adds interest; helps them make connections)

"questioning" (students generate questions about content-when students design questions of varying complexity they engage in deeper cognitive processing (Sousa, p. 119).)

"summarizing" (this rehearsal is also called "closure" where students attach sense and meaning to new learning)

While rehearsal doesn't guarantee that students will recall and apply information, there is almost no long-term retention without rehearsal (Sousa p. 88). Rote memorization has its place, however, students also need to attach meaning to learning, which actually creates pathways in the brain to enhance recall! Practice doesn't make perfect, PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT! Hence the need for guided practice, to assure students learn what was intended.