A commenter named Carol recently raised a few questions that I felt warranted a more in-depth response.
I am really enjoying diving into this stuff... but I can't wrap my mind around the homework. How is it that you "require" them to do their homework, when it has no impact on their assessment? And, if a student never completes their homework, yet masters the standards - would they receive the same mark as the ones who do complete all the assignments? What becomes the point of having a deadline? Help!It seems like the question of grading homework comes up quite often when discussing standards-based grading on this blog and in my face-to-face conversations with colleagues, too.
It's easier than you think to 'require' students to continue to do their homework while not using it to impact their grade. I conducted the following exercise with my Geometry students last year:
Me: "How many of you would still do the homework if it was worth 2 points rather than 3?"In my standards-based grading system, students can be re-assessed for full credit on any learning target they'd like to improve on, but one pre-requisite for this second chance opportunity is that they put in the time in the first place. By completing the homework, they have "purchased insurance" which gives them the right to cash in when a crisis hits. If a student does not complete the homework, but masters the standard, then "insurance" wasn't needed on his/her end - shame on me for not catching this in a pre-test! Full disclosure: this scenario of students not completing their homework and mastering a learning target happens more often than I originally envisioned - I will be piloting a few tweaks to help alleviate this "problem" over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the results.
(Most of the class raised their hand)
Me: "How many of you would still do the homework if it was only worth 1 point?"
(Fewer students raised their hands)
Me: "How many of you would still do the homework if it was worth zero points?"
(Several students, but clearly a minority, raised their hand)
Me: "If you did not do the homework, how well do you think you would do on the test?"
(A few students chimed in saying they probably wouldn't do very well)
Me: "How many tests do you think you'd have to fail before you realized that you need to do the homework to be successful?"
(Some said one test while others said a few tests)
Me: "Okay, now that you know this about homework and tests...why would you stop doing your homework if it wasn't worth any points?"
(We then had a discussion about how homework is practice, answers are freely available so why NOT do it?! and that it is acts like "insurance.")
For additional commentary on these subjects, you may want to consider reading a few of my previous posts:
- "Grading: Points vs. Learning" - de-emphasizing a culture of "points" in the classroom and how quizzes, homework and standards-based grading fit in.
- "Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs" - a review of the ASCD book written by the Homework Lady, Cathy Vatterott
- "Standards-based grading & student information systems: the beginning" - making standards-based grading a reality in a system that still requires letter grades
Avid MeTA musings readers, how do you handle homework? If you don't grade it, how do you get buy-in from students, parents and administration? If you are currently grading homework, what's holding you back?