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Reasons for Homework

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Why should homework be assigned to students? What is its purpose? The truth is that many teachers do not take the time to examine what role homework is playing in their class. With complaints about too much or too little homework being discussed by parents and even in the press, it is important that we take a close work at homework and ensure that it is being used appropriately and to the greatest benefit for our students.

1. To reinforce what has been taught

An important function of homework is to reinforce what the teacher has taught in the classroom. For example, if the subject of the day's lesson plan is shifts in supply and demand curves, then students might be given a few example problems where they can practice what they learned. When the students hand this is in during the next class period, the teacher can review these in order to ensure that all the students understand what was taught.

2. To provide students with greater choice in learning

Sometimes a teacher might choose to have students learn about a topic or other information through their own research. This often happens in English classes where there is a limited time in class to cover all the literary works available. Students might be assigned book reports or given a choice of authors to study more in depth outside of the classroom. Another very common example is science fair projects where students design their entire project with minimal interaction and help from the teacher.

3. To prepare students for the next lesson

One way that teachers can effectively use homework is to prepare students for the next day's lesson. After having reviewed some introductory material on their own, students come to class with a basic understanding of what is being covered in class. This is especially important when the teacher has created a role-play or interactive assignment that requires a certain amount of background knowledge to be truly effective.

4. To help students review for an assessment

In order to help prepare students for assessments, teachers will often give them review sheets with the necessary topics and information from which they are to base their review. However, an alternative method to help students prepare is to have them create their own review sheets based on a list of terms and study questions. These can be quite effective in ensuring students understand and are ready for what will be covered on quizzes and tests.

5. To enrich the lesson plan

Another way that well designed homework can be quite effective is in enriching lesson plans. Students might be given assignments that take what students have been taught to a greater depth or provide them with additional connections and examples to help enhance their learning experience. For example, students might be given an assignment where they are to research a particular aspect of World War II: women's roles, the homefront, weapons of war, submarine warfare, etc. Students will then learn about these topics in a much deeper way than would be possible in the classroom setting. This outside research could prepare them for an in depth class discussion about the war.

6. To teach a real world skill

Some homework is skill based and helps students actually practice skills outside of the classroom. For example, a student might be asked to participate in a mock interview with their parents rating them as practice for getting a job. Another example might be that students could be required to create budget for life after high school based on real numbers and information that they have researched.
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