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How to Increase Homework Completion

Janelle Cox

 

How can teachers increase homework completion in their classrooms? Before we can attempt to answer that question we must ask ourselves, “Are we using homework to assess students’ learning, or is it reinforce what we taught them in class?”

We can assess students’ learning with a test or classroom assignment. Research shows that homework is meant to cement and practice concepts and skills that students’ have learned in the classroom, not for assessment or to teach new concepts. Now that we have cleared that up, we can focus on how teachers can increase homework completion.

Here are a few strategies and ideas to increase homework completion in your classroom.

Incorporating Student Interest

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, when teachers incorporated student interest into the homework assignments of a fifth grade classroom, homework completion increased to more than 95 percent.  When you appeal to students’ interest they may not even think of it as “homework.” For instance, today’s children are up to date on all of the latest technology. Since you know that the majority of students are online, create a class website where students can answer questions and discuss online the steps to finding the answer.

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Have a Consistent Routine

All students can benefit from having a consistent homework routine. For example, math homework is due on Mondays and spelling is due on Fridays. Or, give all homework assignments for the week on Monday and have them due on Friday. You can also make it so if it’s turned in early, students get extra credit.  Another idea is to have a choice board. The teacher would write five homework assignments on the board on Monday, and students must choose three assignments to turn in by Friday.

Keep it Short and Simple

Give students shorter homework assignments. Students don’t need to do 20 math problems to see if they understand it. If they did it wrong, then they just practiced it wrong 20 times. Pick five to eight  problems that represent the core concept, and that should be enough to show if they understood or not. Students are more likely to complete the homework if it can be done in a short amount of time.

Homework for Practice Skills

If you are going to give students a homework assignment and you expect them to turn it in, choose an assignment that is connected to what they have already learned in class. Use homework as practice not to learn a new concept. Don’t assume that all students have help at home.

Use Incentives

In life, when you do well at your job, you get paid. You may receive a bonus for meeting a deadline, or get promoted for doing a job well done.  Just like in the real world, students too like to be rewarded for their efforts. There are many extrinsic ways to motivate students to complete their homework. Here are a few.

For an everyday homework assignment that is complete from all students, the class earns a point. Once they reach 10 points, they earn something. Students can remind one another to turn in homework so their class can earn points.

  • Create cards that spell put the word “homework.” Each time everyone in class turns in their homework flip a letter of the word. If someone forgets their homework, start over. Once the word is spelled the class earns something.
  • Assign each student a number. Each day the teacher draws a number and if that student completed their homework their number gets put into a “reward can.” At the end of the month the teacher draws a number from the reward can and that students wins something.
  • Create a homework chart. Each table or row receives a point each time they all complete a homework assignment. This makes each student accountable for their peers. Students who have the most points can win a prize every six to eight weeks.
  • For older grades, pin classes against one another. Have each class compete to see who hands in the most homework in a six-week span. The winners not only receive bragging rights but a homework pass.

Try an Online Resource

Websites such as Kidblog.org and Smartkiddies.com are a great way to engage and motivate students to do their homework. Smartkiddies.com students get to create an avatar and receive interactive rewards and certificates for completing homework. Kidblog.org students can discuss questions and answers with their peers and practice skills.

Create a Homework Club

Create a homework club. Students can meet before or after school, or during lunch or study hall. A homework club can give students the help and structure they need to complete assignments on time.

How do you increase homework completion at your school? Do you have tips or suggestions that work for your students? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. As a trained educational professional, she utilizes her experience to provide content and knowledge to the online community. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe.