Among a plethora of excuses, from ‘the dog ate it’ to ‘my little brother drew all over it’, there are clearly some things teachers can do to help make setting homework more engaging. Having explored a range of research articles, student feedback plus my own and colleagues’ personal experiences, we’ve summarised some of the key reasons homework becomes difficult for students to complete. However, homework when most successful, has a significant impact on their knowledge, understanding and ultimately their progress.

Below is a summary of our findings: (they’re not in any particular order)

Parents find it difficult to support their child because they don’t have access to all the information, feel ill-informed and struggle to provide effective guidance

Ofsted acknowledges the vital role parents play in supporting their child’s learning…

‘Parental involvement in the form of ‘at-home good parenting’ has a significant positive effect on children’s achievement and adjustment even after all other factors shaping attainment have been taken out of the equation. In the primary age range the impact caused by different levels of parental involvement is much bigger than differences associated with variations in the quality of schools. The scale of the impact is evident across all social classes and all ethnic groups.’

Research Report DFE-RR156

Providing effective tools for students, teachers and parents to accurately and thoroughly communicate homework requirements and share rich resources, is vital in building that home school partnership. Homework4 makes this really easy to address as parents have access to the identical information and resources as their child, allowing them to be kept informed and to access supporting materials. Homework4 provides parents quick access to their child’s timetable, attendance and behaviour information plus any messages teachers have shared with their classes. All this completes the circle of sharing important information to ensure they’re fully informed and in turn better placed to support their child.

Homework is disconnected to subject lessons and plays little part in assessed work in the classroom

Clearly identifying the purpose of homework set and establishing how it will impact on students making progress in their subject, is really important. It brings greater understanding of the value it will have on their understanding and learning, and they’ll see the point of the effort they’re required to put in. Students will quickly dismiss homework that’s set purely as a filler and may resent work they feel as not helping them make progress or meet their targets. Spending those extra few minutes developing effective, relevant homework will bring obvious dividends. Homework4 allows teachers to record detailed information about the task and share relevant resources.

Set tasks are unrealistic and require too much time to complete

Students face many challenges from inside and outside school. With many schools having a rigid and inflexible homework policy and the expectation on teachers to set weekly tasks, it’s understandable these can sometimes be less thought out or organised in a way which doesn’t really achieve their intended goals. This can lead to tasks too ambitious for the allocated time for that evening’s homework. Setting effective homework with clear and realistic ambition will result in better learning outcomes and students who’re more willing to engage. It will also save teachers time in the future as these tasks will effectively support learning and progress.

Students are uncertain or ill-equipped to plan and organise their time for home learning

Whilst many students have good organisational skills, from time to time, as workloads increase and external factors stack up, students are easily overwhelmed. This is when their organisational skills will be tested. Homework4 makes is super easy for students and parents to quickly see what work has been set, when it’s due and when it becomes overdue. The timetable view provides quick access to help plan the week ahead. Building students’ ownership of their learning is an ambition shared by everyone and Homework4 makes it easier to achieve. With Homework4’s easy-to-use app for smartphones and portal for tablets and web, students have 360-degree access, 24/7 and can effectively plan and organise their time.

Students do not receive feedback effectively

When students have taken valuable time to produce work, sometimes representing considerable effort and commitment, there’s nothing worse that it sitting on a teacher’s desk, seemingly forgotten with no acknowledgement for the effort put in. This is a sure-fire way to demotivate students from completing your homework. Smart homework can reduce the marking process and can include self-marking tasks, tasks that extend knowledge, rather than test it and tasks that students assess and mark themselves in class. Homework4 provides an intuitive and easy to use tool for setting, tracking and monitoring homework. Teachers can quickly remind and message students regarding missed homework if it’s not handed in. The timetable view allows teachers to add lesson notes and reminders for themselves, streamlines the whole process and saves considerable time, allowing more time to get other goals completed.

Tasks are often set for the whole class and ignore the different abilities of the class 

The most effective tasks, regardless of if it’s in or outside of the classroom, should take into consideration the student’s ability and look to build skills, knowledge and understanding they’ll find challenging but achievable. A single task set for all levels of ability which won’t test the most able or overwhelm those struggling in your subject is no longer the norm. Homework4 provides a simple solution, enabling teachers the facility to quickly and easily select individual students, small groups or whole class homework. This ensures your students can be set targeted homework which they’ll find challenging but also appropriate.

The job of the teacher is a very difficult one and any tool which can make that easier is a step forward in reducing workload and increasing productivity. Engaging parents is crucial and keeping them as informed as possible will ensure they’ll offer more support with its recognised significant impact on their child’s learning. Students need tools which utilise their openness and competences with technology will always be welcomed.

Why not explore how Homework4 can support your school and provide a welcome tool by taking advantage of our free, no strings 6 week trial?  Homework4 provides a highly effective tool for all aspects of homework for students, teachers, parents and school leaders. Enhancing how homework is set, tracked and monitored, it provides a vehicle for easily attaching rich resources to improve engagement and scaffold learning. It’s intuitive and highly reliable. All this results in streamlining the whole process, saving time and effort. Built with simplicity and reliability in mind, Homework4 is an invaluable tool for schools looking to support students, teachers and parents to get the most out of homework.