Will using interaction in small groups about homework assignments increase students’ completion of homework assignments?

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2007

17 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents


1. Research Question

2. Problem Relevance

3. Definitions

4. Review of Literature

5. Hypotheses

6. Outcome Measures

7. Methods Design

8. Data Collection

9. Schedule

10. Data Analysis
10.1 Baseline Data
10.2 Post-intervention Data

11. Report of Findings

12. Interpretation

13. Practice Decisions

14. Bibliography
14.1 Internet sources


This paper is part of an observation as a clinical experience requirement of the course listed on the title page. It takes place at a High School in a 10th grade history class under Mr.E.’s leadership. The class, which I attend twice a week for one period, consists of 16 students (eight of them are male, eight female). As far as I’m concerned, I am a German exchange student spending one semester at Samford University with the main objective of improving my English since I’m going to be a secondary school teacher back in Germany. English is – alongside with German and Physical Education – one of the subjects that I’m going to teach. This semester is my fourth one, so I would be pretty much a sophomore in the American Educational System. However, the German Educational System works quite differently which is the reason for still having approximately four years of study to complete.

1. Research Question

Before being able to start an action research, the researcher has to identify a research question. It is raised the question which matters could be of interest. After having led a conversation with my mentor about an interesting field of investigation, we came to the conclusion that the completion of homework was an important concern. He told me about his difficulties in coping with this problem in 10th grade in history. He was willing to figure out a solution to the apparently big problem. Since some students don’t do any homework at all regularly, it is definitely a problem worth taking into focus. There are multiple ways to deal with unsatisfactory homework behavior of students. Punishment in form of extra work is probably one of the most common means to encounter it. Yet, multiple generations of teachers have already applied this measure, but the problem has, quite obviously, not vanished. Therefore, this method doesn’t seem to work appropriately. This is, in my opinion, due to the fact that students are only extrinsically motivated in this case. Another example of extrinsic motivation is rewarding. Yet it may be helpful in some cases, it is still a means of extrinsic motivation and therefore not last perpetual wisdom. Extrinsic motivation is not a long-ranging solution to the problem. There are other options to take.

2. Problem Relevance

There has been enough research going on in the past decades to strengthen the importance of homework. I will commit myself to its importance later on in this chapter. First, I would like to mention some causes of the general problem “homework”. By talking to students and by reminding myself of my school career, I came to the conclusion that one of the most staggering opinions out of students’ point of view is the needlessness of homework. They don’t consider it as a vital and helpful part of learning. Homework is regarded as an annoying and superfluous activity invented by teachers in order to take away students’ leisure time in the afternoon. What a naive assumption. But that is exactly the way I felt when I was young and lazy. If we try to summarize all these causes to a big cause, we can state a lack of intrinsic motivation. Of course, there are students who feel motivated to do their homework regularly, completely and in an effort to perform well. Yet, those students who do not feel intrinsically motivated, lack this ability to motivate themselves intrinsically. Though, I think that there is another major cause for not doing homework. It is the awareness that it will not be read by anybody anyway. Why make an effort, if nobody is interested in it. There is no audience to homework. How can we as teachers ask our students to write reader-oriented if they know that there is no readership. Students have to “receive feedback on their homework”.[1]

So, as already announced above, I will now list up some reasons in favor of homework. There are lots of reasons, thus I will keep my focus on the most essential ones. There is no doubt about its deepening effect with reference to newly acquired knowledge. Moreover, homework often serves as a revision. Furthermore, it is necessary to accomplish homework in order to build up new knowledge which needs a basis. Considering the four branches of knowledge (functional, methodological, social and personal), homework does not only enhance factional knowledge, but also methodological and personal knowledge. The students’ ability to learn methodologically is boosted by the necessity of own problem solving, since there is usually nobody else to ask. Personal progress is supported by taking responsibility of fulfilling one’s duties. On the whole, we can say that homework is a vital part of everyday school life and it scientifically proven that it is a very useful tool to improve learning and to improve achievement.[2]

The next step is to think about one’s expectation of results. Well, it goes without saying that there is hope to raise the number of students doing their homework completely. To achieve this, I intend to increase the intrinsic motivation because this is probably the only way to improve homework performance in the long term. Since homework is, as I said, a vital and absolutely necessary part of school, I am eager to figure out a possibility of getting a grip on this seemingly eternal problem.

There is no doubt about its significance to teaching. You need to make sure that your class fulfills homework, otherwise it is hardly possible to go on with the subject matter successfully. Besides, it does not help a lot if some students do their homework because we as teachers need to take care for all students. It is not difficult to teach smart and accountable students, but the more difficult is it to teach ungifted and irresponsible ones. For my part I can say that homework is going to be a daily part of school life. There is no way to do without homework. School is homework to some extent. I even firmly believe that many students learn most at home doing homework. It is scientifically detected that only twenty per cent of what a teacher says is absorbed by human memory. Learning takes place actively and is a unique process which means that each pupil learns differently.

3. Definitions

“Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom work. There are three types of homework: practice, preparation, and extension.”[3] Taking my specific action research into consideration, it must be said that my teacher and I will try to increase both the percentage of students doing their homework in general and the percentage of entirely completed homework assignments. Many students only do parts of it which is not satisfying and not the purpose of homework. It is supposed to be completed.

We will use a quantitative method to measure homework completion. First, baseline data will be collected to see how many students did their homework and how many per cent of homework assignment was carried out. After carrying out the measure to abolish parts of the problem, we will have a look at the figures again and then state differences or not.

Concerning the need for feedback, it is my intention to apply the following measure. The class will be divided in groups of three to five people at the beginning of the lesson in order to discuss homework. Each student will have the chance and the obligation to present his answers. This ensures an audience of one’s transcripts and thus provides the feeling that one’s accomplished homework is of interest to somebody else. It is important and therefore it is worth striving to do it completely and well. Those listening to the answers are encouraged to comment constructively on them and to give notes how to improve parts of it. The class teacher as well as the researcher will take care of group seriousness. If the class is not used to group work at all, it will be difficult to succeed short-dated. However, it is worth an attempt anyway.

The measure intended to apply is supposed to increase students’ intrinsic motivation. Edward L. Deci, a professor of psychology, is famous for his theories of intrinsic motivation. He says that intrinsic motivation “is evident when people engage in an activity for its own sake, without some obvious external incentive present.”[4] In his research he gives an example of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation which is pretty self-explanatory.

“He presented a series of puzzles to two groups of college students. Members of one group were paid for their efforts; the other students were not. When observers left the room, study participants receiving payment stopped working on the puzzles, while their unpaid counterparts carried on. This experiment—and many others that have shown similar results—demonstrates that people are more likely to become engaged in an activity if their motivation is intrinsic, rather than extrinsic.”[5]

Since we will split the class into groups, cooperative learning will be the teaching method.

Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement. Students work through the assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it.”[6]

Lightbown and Spada define corrective feedback in the following way (even though referring to language learners in particular, it is still very evident):

“Any indication to the learners that their use of the target language is incorrect. This includes various responses that the learners receive. When a language learner says, ‘He go to school every day’, corrective feedback can be explicit, for example, ‘No, you should say goes, not go’, or implicit, ‘Yes, he goes to school every day’, and may or may not include metalinguistic information, for example, ‘Don’t forget to make the verb agree with the subject’.”[7]

4. Review of Literature

Since there is an enormous amount of research on homework, I will condense its basic outcomes. As stated before, homework is helpful and improves students’ learning in various ways. It does not only contribute to factual knowledge, but also to methodological and personal competences. Hence, it serves as a lesson for professional life, too. It “bridges the gap between learning at school and learning at home”.[8] It is often considered to be the job of childhood. There has not yet been meaningful research in the field of homework completion. This is the one major reason for me and my teacher to investigate into this problem. Of course, we’re totally aware about the limited expressiveness of our research, though it is an action research and will therefore help to see the effects of our measure.

5. Hypotheses

The motivation to do some action research is based upon the willingness to “effect change”.[9] In cooperation with my mentor who assists my work, I predict that the total figure of students doing their homework could increase since they know that they will be allowed or will have to, respectively, present what they’ve done. Additionally, I expect a raise of percentage considering completion of homework. Since the measure can only be conducted a few times and for a mere 10-15 minutes every time, I don’t expect a significant increase, but would be content to notice up to five per cent more of students’ homework assignments completed. Students will feel that their work is of interest to others, so it remunerates to fulfill it and to fulfill it in an adequate way. Nobody wants others to laugh at one’s poor performance. Due to an audience, more students will take efforts to do their assigned homework. However, not knowing the class at all and therefore being more a less a stranger to them, it is my firm belief that the research’s outcome might be a pure coincidence. Although I am very positive about the measure, it is impossible to have a meaningful impact under the circumstances listed. To cut a long story short, I am sure that intrinsic motivation will be increased and it might therefore also support overall completion of homework.[10]


[1] http://www.netc.org/focus/strategies/home.php, 09/30/2007.

[2] http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/HOW_IMPORTANT_HOMEWORK.html, 09/30/2007.

[3] http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/HOW_IMPORTANT_HOMEWORK.html, 09/30/2007.

[4] Deci, E.L. ,1975,. Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum Publishing Co. Japanese Edition, Tokyo: Seishin Shobo, 1980.

[5] http://www.teambuildinginc.com/article_motivating_factors.htm, 10/02/2007.

[6] http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/intech/cooperativelearning.htm, 10/02/2007.

[7] Lightbown, Patsy M. & Spada, Nina, 1999. How Languages Are Learned. Revised Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.171f.

[8] http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/gotoschool/a-z/homework.php, 09/30/2007.

[9] Parsons, R. D. & Brown, K. S., 2002. Teacher as reflective practitioner and action researcher. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson, p.160.

[10] Ibid., p.159f.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


Will using interaction in small groups about homework assignments increase students’ completion of homework assignments?
Samford University  (Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education & Professional Studies)
The professional secondary language Arts/English teacher
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
752 KB
Projekt, Homewood High School, Erziehungswissenschaften, Education, interaction in small groups, school project, homework improvement, homework assignments, homework completion, small groups, history class, Birmingham, Samford University
Quote paper
Johannes Vees (Author), 2007, Will using interaction in small groups about homework assignments increase students’ completion of homework assignments?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/139855


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