My homework policy is something that I change every year and always try to tweak. I feel like it’s such a hard balance to get students to practice, without going overboard. I want it to be beneficial, without students just blowing it off.
In the past, I’ve done homework as a completion grade only. All homework assignments were worth the same amount of points (regardless of the length of the assignment). I gave points based on a sliding scale if it was turned in late or not complete. That worked fine, but I always seemed to have students just filling in random answers. While doing that only hurts themselves, it bothered me that they thought they could get credit without doing any work. So, I started having students check their homework at the beginning of class and write the correct answers for any problems they missed. The idea was that they could then go back and work the problem again to get the correct answer. Who knows if they actually did it.
One thing that I’ve found that helps students take homework assignments seriously is putting questions from the homework on tests and quizzes. Students always kick themselves when they miss a problem on a test that was on the homework. I also feel like this gives students that work hard, but get nervous for tests a chance to relax. For hard workers, it can help them relax to see a familiar problem. I also gave pop quizzes consisting of only homework questions and would let them use their homework on the quiz. While that wasn’t great, it worked once or twice per school year.
In my perfect world, I would just tell my students to “work enough problems so that you understand the material”, but that’s a joke in high school. I think for homework to work well, students must be intrinsically motivated. It is so hard to get apathetic students to care and see the importance of homework.
How do you handle homework in your classroom?