A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers - February 1998

Tips for Getting Homework Done

2. Create assignments with a purpose

Any homework is not better than no homework at all. "The quality of an assignment makes a huge difference in whether it gets done," says Patricia Cygan, a high school social studies teacher from Washington. "Busywork is no good."

Homework can have several purposes. Ms. Blegen explains:

"We have to ask ourselves, `What good does the homework do? What are we after?' I think it's only good if it's used for something that contributes to the class. Like getting ready for something, or finishing something, or polishing a presentation."

The major academic purposes of homework are to help children:

In elementary school (and to a certain extent in junior high and high school) homework helps children develop good work habits and attitudes. It can:

Homework is meant to be a positive experience and to encourage children to learn. Assignments should not be used as punishment.

Creating high-quality assignments with a purpose can be time-consuming. A high school history and social studies teacher from Wisconsin, Thomas J. Howe, explains:

"For much of the homework I assign, (students) know that the next day I will use it as the basis of a more meaningful whole. They know there is a purpose to what I'm assigning. They know the knowledge is crucial to the next day's activity. So the homework requires a fair amount of planning and thought as to why I'm giving it in the first place."


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[1. Lay out expectations early] [Table of Contents] [3. Make sure students understand the purpose]