Are teachers misusing homework? Beyond the question of whether or not to assign it

Neil Heffernan
November 21, 2019

Quick summary:

How much, if any, homework should elementary school students receive? It is an age-old and ongoing debate. But the discussion misses a fundamental part of the controversy: Teachers often don’t take advantage of homework as an instructional tool. Professor Neil Heffernan who runs the ASSISTments project at WPI weighs in about how homework can be utilized best to enhance student learning.

One of the reasons that educators take days to grade homework is that they’re overwhelmed; aside from pay, stress and burnout are the number one reasons that teachers want to quit. This suggests that a teacher’s own workload is an important dimension of the discussion of how much homework is appropriate. One emerging answer can be educational technology, which can help make it easier to wade through these tasks, helping to track submissions, flag common errors, and record grades.

In the end, according to Heffernan, the adults in the education system need to do their homework just like students, and we should work to do a better job to make sure that students get the practice that they need — and the quality homework that they deserve. 


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