03/25/2013

NEXT POST
The Devastating Power of Zero I was recently working with a group of great educators in Illinois who were learning about McREL’s classroom recommendations on providing feedback, taken from our second edition of Classroom Instruction That Works, when I inadvertently opened a Pandora’s Box regarding the grading of missing or incomplete assignments. Two of the recommendations from the book are: Provide feedback that addresses what is correct and elaborates on what students need to do next. Provide feedback appropriately in time to meet students’ needs. Additionally, in our Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.), Bj Stone and I expand those recommendations by suggesting that teachers should allow students to rework their assignments until correct, based on the feedback they receive. When discussing this with the Illinois educators, our conversation quickly moved to grading and the power of the zero. While there was general agreement with the notion that the grades a student receives should accurately reflect that student’s understanding and mastery of the content, some of the educators felt that allowing students to rework missing or incomplete assignments was unfair to the other students who turned in their work on time and demonstrated higher levels of understanding on the first attempt. These educators felt that if a student didn’t complete an assignment, they should get a zero with no opportunity to rework the assignment after receiving feedback. Which of these two approaches—giving zeros or allowing rework—leads to a final grade that more accurately reflects the student’s understanding and mastery of content? To explore...
PREVIOUS POST
What is the Purpose of Homework? If you walk into a typical teachers’ workroom and ask the question, “What’s the purpose of homework?” you’ll likely find that most teachers have a definite opinion. But ask them what research says about homework, and you’ll get less definitive answers. What does research really say about homework as a strategy to improve student achievement? The effects of homework on student achievement are not entirely clear; a number of factors, such as degree of parental involvement and support, homework quality, students’ learning preferences, and structure and monitoring of assignments can affect the influence of homework on achievement (Hong, Milgram, & Rowell, 2004; Minotti, 2005). One synthesis of research on the relationship between homework time and achievement showed some gains at the middle and high school levels, but less so at the elementary school level (Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006). Others have found that homework can help students strengthen their self-regulation skills such as managing time, setting goals, self-reflecting on their performance, and delaying gratification (Ramdass & Zimmerman, 2011). On the flip side, there’s some research highlighting negative aspects of homework, including disruption of family time, stress, conflicts between student and parent, and restricted access to community and leisure time (e.g., Coutts, 2004; Warton, 2001). So what’s the best approach to take? In Cathy Vatterott’s 2009 book, Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs, she outlines practices she refers to as her “New Paradigm for Homework”: design quality homework tasks; differentiate homework tasks; move from grading to checking; decriminalize the...

Recent Comments