Apply the Three-part Type I Test for Homework

This is a section for Daniel Pink’s Drive. A great book I am enjoying and would highly recommend.

Does the homework bulging from your kids’ backpack truly help them learn? Or does it simply steal their free time in the service of a false sense of rigor? Teachers, before you dole out yet another time-consuming assignment, run it through this Type I homework test by asking yourself three questions:

  • Am I offering students any autonomy over how and when to do this work?
  • Does this assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task (as opposed to rote reformulation of something already covered in class)?
  • Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment? That is, can they see how doing this additional activity at home contributes to the larger enterprise in which the class is engaged?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, can you refashion the assignment? And parents, are you looking at homework assignments every so often to see whether they promote compliance or engagement? Let’s not waste our kids’ time on meaningless exercises. With a little thought and effort, we can turn homework into homelearning

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