Authentic Homework Assignments
Today’s teachers struggle to determine the right balance of homework to assign. This chapter considers moving past quantity of homework to focusing on fewer but more meaningful homework tasks with realistic challenge. Emphasizing authentic classroom instruction that carries into homework and problem-based learning is a viable path. These efforts will help address the commonly reported concern by educators that students, especially older students, do not see the meaningfulness in much of the academic subject matter they are exposed to in school. Meaningful homework activities complement classroom instruction, generate genuine interest in learning, and connect school learning to real-life applications. Strategies presented in this chapter situate learning in authentic contexts and encourage student choice and shared decision-making in order to foster students’ academic motivation and meaningful learning of subject matter. The use of educational technology during homework is of particular interest, given rates of children’s exposure. Children learn best when activities are designed around meaningful experiences that relate to their lives, have scaffolding and assistance while learning, and receive praise for effort that encourages a growth mindset and sense of control over their capacity to learn. However, it is essential that parental help does not hinder the self-regulatory behaviors we wish homework activity to promote. Parental autonomy support, or the extent to which parents use strategies that encourage students’ independent problem-solving, choice, and self-determination, is most associated with intrinsic motivation and self-regulated learning.