Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Homework policy 

I've had a chance to talk a bit more with both of my mentors about homework policy. The two have rather different policies. My algebra mentor's policy is that late homework is accepted (but with a 50% penalty). Students who are missing three or more homework problems are given detention and have to come in to complete the homework. Most students will get themselves caught up to avoid this, but it also provides a chance to get additional assistance.

My geometry mentor on the other hand does not accept late homework, largely justifying this on the basis that students will abuse the policy.

My own feeling is that the point of homework is to reinforce classroom learning. If late homework is not accepted, there is almost no chance that the student will do it. On the other hand, if late homework is accepted, perhaps the student will just copy the answers, but if we give homework with the answers in the back of the book to begin with, then that's not really an issue (plus it allows students to more immediately get feedback on their efforts).

Much of this is discipline-dependent. In math classes, homework is a learning tool. In other disciplines, such as English, the homework is the assessment so in that case it's more important to insist on timely completion of the work.

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