Rationale of Homework
Homework is an integral part of the learning process. Learning continues through the completion of homework. Homework may be assigned to a class or a group within a class or individual according to student needs. Teachers assign homework for many reasons. Homework can help to:
- Review and practice what has been learned in class during the day i.e. it is an extension of classroom learning and experience. It helps with the absorption of classroom learning.
- Explore subjects in greater depth than is allowed by class time. It allows for gaining a better understanding of the subject.
- Practise new skills and concepts and enable students to become more competent in their use.
- Introduce students to independent learning – the completion of projects, the use of local library for research, the use of the Internet to find relevant information related to the topic in question.
- Carry out preparatory work for the next day’s class.
- Develop study skills and encourage independence, self-discipline and responsibility.
Organisation of Homework
- Students should expect to receive homework in most subject areas.
- Homework, both written and oral, is considered of equal value and importance.
- Homework is regarded as an extension of classwork and as preparation for the next day’s work.
- In order to achieve their full potential, students must be prepared to spend time studying and revising as well as doing their homework.
- It is very important that a student’s best effort is made at all times. When difficulty is encountered, a student should refer to their textbook or examples given in class. It is required that some evidence of effort made is clear as this enables the teacher to assess the student’s learning needs.
Suggestions for Organising Homework
- Find a quiet place where possible and establish a routine.
- Try to avoid obvious distractions, TV, Radio, Phone calls, text messages, social media.
- When possible homework should be completed early in the evening rather than late at night.
- Try to complete homework on the night it is given, even though it may not be required the next day.
- Design a personal timetable for homework, half hour blocks are recommended followed by a short break. Allocate time for study and revision also.
- Take notes when studying, highlight key areas, headings etc. These will be used later for revision.
- Use the textbook or notes given in class to help answer written questions.
- Where the homework involves solving problems, study the examples given in class first before attempting to solve the problems.
- When a student has to learn off material such as vocabulary, grammar, definitions, diagrams or formulae, they should keep testing themselves regularly and keep testing until they know it.
- Make sure all written work is neat and tidy.
- When homework is completed, timetable and schoolbag should be checked to ensure that all books, copies, PE gear, art materials are ready for the next day.
- The school facilitates students who wish to do school work at lunchtime. Two rooms are provided for this.
Types of Homework
Here are four types of daily homework assignments – preparation, practice, extension, and creative and/or enrichment assignments.
Preparation – This type of assignment is intended to help students get ready for the next day’s classroom lesson. For instance, a reading assignment may be given prior to a lesson. Students might be asked to write their own discussion questions based on a reading assignment. Alternatively, the student may be asked to complete answers based on their reading of a text.
Practice – By successfully completing practice assignments, students have the opportunity to review and reinforce skills, knowledge, and information presented in a previous lesson. For example, studying a maths assignment, students are provided with a range of problems graded in difficulty but based on the formula and manipulations recently covered in class.
Extension – Extension assignments ask students to expand on skills and/or concepts taught during a previous class. For example, after studying a period in history students might be asked to read an article or book pertaining to that period and report their findings to the class.
Creative/Enrichment – This assignment includes analysing, synthesising and evaluating concepts or skills already taught. Students have an opportunity to develop and apply their own ideas about a topic and prepare a presentation for the teachers or class. One example would be to assign students the task of creating an invention that would solve a problem. Another might be to write a scene from a play or short story.
What is stressed here is that not all homework is alike in nature and purpose. In considering different types of homework to set teachers might usefully refer to the different kinds of questioning employed in class
Appropriate Tasks for Homework
The range of tasks which are appropriate for students of various ages are many and varied. Some examples are as follows:
- Written assignments
- Learning assignments
- Essay writing
- Drill practice
- Simple experiments
- Public Library visit
- Report Writing
- Revision Work
- Practice of some procedure
- Problem solving
- Preparing for debates, role-plays etc
- Preparing for class tests or exams
- Making a model
- Word processing
- Watching a television documentary
- Listening comprehension
Tasks should have a clear objective, linked to study programmes. They should be both challenging and interesting. Teachers are encouraged to check that their overall homework programme is meaningful and balanced in the type and scale of tasks and manageable for students. This balance is not always possible and can vary considerably from day to day. However, it should be noted that homework time devoted to reading and learning is as important as written work
Teachers may expect that:
- Students will record all homework in the school journal
- Students will meet agreed deadlines
- Students will make an honest effort to complete homework fully
- All work will be well presented
- Parents will supervise homework as appropriate
- Parents will furnish a signed and dated explanatory note in the event that homework is incomplete or not done
- Students missing class time due to extra-curricular activities will obtain and complete assigned homework
- Students will make every effort to catch up on work when absent for a period of time due to illness or other reasons.
Students may expect that:
- Homework in each subject area will take up a reasonable amount of time
- Adequate allowance is made for time-consuming homework, such as essays etc .
- Homework will be relevant to class work
- Homework will be monitored
- Adequate time will be given in class for the recording of homework.
Parents may expect:
- To be kept informed of difficulties regarding homework
- To be given the opportunity to discuss homework problems with relevant teachers, at a time mutually convenient to the teacher and parent
- That teachers would be conscious of learning difficulties when assigning homework
- That parents of first years should sign the journal every day
- That parents of 2nd ,3rd ,5th ,T.Y.,6th year should sign the journal once a week .
All students should spend time at home on their studies whether or not work has been assigned. If no homework has been set then students have an obligation to go over material they have recently studied in class to make sure that they have fully understood it.
Procedures and Sanctions
As homework is an essential part of school life, it is reasonable to expect that all students will make an honest effort to complete it satisfactorily.
Situations may arise from time to time which prevents students from having their homework done. Naturally in these cases, no sanctions will apply provided a note of explanation is provided in the student journal by the parents.
Teachers may impose reasonable sanctions for:
- Failure to present homework
- Poor effort in presentation of homework.
Suggestions for teachers:
- Problems with students not completing homework should be recorded in the student journal
- Extra homework may be assigned
- Detention may be imposed on students who repeatedly fail to produce homework repeatedly
- Where homework problems continue to be an issue, the student may be referred to the Year Head
- Where all other sanctions have been exhausted, Management may contact parents.
The Role Of Parents/Guardians In Supporting Students
Parents/guardians are encouraged, as far as possible, to provide a reasonably quiet, suitable place in which students can do their homework free of distractions such as television, mobile phones, laptops etc. e.g. Provide suitable desk, chair, adequate light and heat.
- A regular time should be set aside for homework.
- Students are encouraged to attend after-school study.
- It is the parents’/guardians’ responsibility to inform the school or class teacher of any reasons why a student was unable to complete a homework assignment. A parent/guardian may communicate this through the student’s journal.
- If a parent/guardian feels that their son is struggling with the amount of homework or degree of difficulty of some he/she may communicate this to the class teacher.
- Parents/Guardians are expected to check and sign the Journal weekly, or daily in the case of First Years.
- Individual notes from school personnel should also be acknowledged.
- Parents/Guardians may communicate with a class teacher at parent/teacher meetings regarding homework.
- Since computers are an integral part of today’s world, it is inevitable and essential that the Internet is a source for much of their Parents/Guardians are encouraged to monitor their son’s use of the Internet.
- It is recommended that students should not be employed in part-time work during the school term.
Duration of Homework
Time management is an important skill and students must learn to be responsible for their homework and reasonable in the time they allocate to it. The length of time spent on homework will vary, depending on year group, level of ability, time of year etc., but the following time allocation may be useful as a guide:
- First year: 1 ½ hours
- Second year: 1 ½ to 2 hours
- Third year: 2 to 3 hours
- Fourth Year: Homework will be given but may be less structured than in Junior Years and will often consist of research for extended essays or project work
- Fifth year: 3 to 3 ½ hours
- Sixth year: 4 hours (Weekend study and revision is also essential)
If students complete some homework during the school day they are advised to spend the above number of hours at homework/study.
Assessment for Learning – Section 22 of the Education Act, 1998, states that the principal and teachers in a school shall encourage and foster learning in students………..regularly evaluate students and periodically report the results of the evaluation to the students and their parents.
Some methods of Assessment for Learning practiced by teachers include:
Oral Feedback: Where the teacher responds to the questions or answers of students, or responding to classroom or homework assignments, or where the teacher draws attention to the quality of student involvement in classwork. Generally speaking, focused oral feedback makes the most powerful impact on the learner.
Marks or grading: Where the teacher offers measurement of student achievement in tests or homework assignments. There is considerable evidence to suggest that reliance on marks or grades does little to improve learning.
Written comment: Where the teacher offers feedback on student assignments. The frequency of reporting is not at all as significant as the quality of the feedback given to students. It is important, then, to consider some ways of improving the quality of reporting to the student.
Sharing learning intentions: Outlining the expected learning with students is an important means of preparation for accurate assessment and reporting of achievement. Students who are clear about learning intentions and who know the criteria for success can focus more fully on the purpose of classroom and homework tasks and are thereby encouraged towards greater involvement in their own learning.
Open questioning: Open questions accompanied by wait time to encourage students to think about their answers. On answering, students are asked not to put hands up but picked at random to answer.
Discussed responses: Students are allowed to discuss some answers with their neighbours before they are asked to reply to a question
Self-Evaluation: Some test questions are marked by the students themselves using a copy of the marking scheme to encourage them to be familiar with what is required for the marks assigned
Peer Assessment: Homework exercises are often swopped between peers for correction.
Assessment of Learning – The traditional methods of assessment still need to be applied to monitor students overall progress, even monitoring the outcome of the assessment for learning procedures.
Some methods of Assessment of Learning practiced by teachers include:
- Oral questioning on each topic as answer is written on the white board.
- Individuals asked to write answers on the white board.
- Regular class examinations at the end of each topic covered.
- Regular monitoring of copies to ensure they are up to date and notes are being taken down.
- Timetabled examinations at Christmas and Summer to get an overall picture of progress to date.
- Class presentations of the results of group work ensures all groups actually engage in the task assigned and ensures the accuracy of the work they engaged in.
- Revision examination questions handed up as a method of revision and monitoring progress
- Students are encourages to keep a progress sheet recording all their test results for the year. This will give allow them to see improvements in grades and identify areas they need to work harder at.
Use of School Journal
The journal is an essential item, purchased in September by all students, containing the following elements Space in which to record student’s homework. Homework includes written work, oral work, learning and revision of the topic in class and should be recorded as such in the journal. Space is provided at the end of each week in the journal, which teachers may use to communicate with parents. A space where parents may sign daily or weekly to indicate that they have examined the journal for that day or week will be introduced from September. The journal is not a private document and both teachers and parents must be shown the journal on request. It is one of the methods used by the school for communication between teachers and parents. Parents are strongly encouraged to examine it on a regular basis. This will keep them informed on any issues regarding homework
Formal Introduction of Study Skills and Time Management
Study skills and time management skills is formally included for 1st, 2nd and 3rd years in the S.P.H.E. curriculum. Study skills and time management skills will also be taught by individual class teachers relevant to the subject area
Special Educational Needs
In setting homework for students with special needs teachers are encouraged to balance the right of students to share fully in the work of the class, including homework tasks, with their individual learning needs. These needs may include consolidation and reinforcement of specific skills. For some students, the continuing involvement of parents is very valuable. Subject teachers will collaborate where possible with Learning Support/Resource teacher to ensure class tasks are manageable, and individual skill practice can be incorporated without overloading the students.