kitchen table math, the sequel: School starts, always a surprise

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

School starts, always a surprise

Of course, it's not a pleasant one. My 7th graders Algebra I teacher doesn't assign homework. Scientific studies you know.

Can anyone steer me to the pro and con scientific studies? I suspect all I need to do is go through the "homework" label, but the post is "therapy" nonetheless!

Thanks!

23 comments:

greg.johnsong said...

Coincidentally, today's Chronicle of Hired Ed mentions a study that concluded "More Math Homework Does Not Help Average Achievers Increase Test Scores".

ChrisA said...

Greg,

Thanks for the link thats very interesting. This would be considered an advanced class.

Anonymous said...

One pro study can be found here:

http://www.cs.pitt.edu/~chopin/tig/0.pdf

See Table 1.

Benjamin Bloom has a certain cachet amongst the ed crowd (I think).

-Mark Roulo

Parentalcation said...

7th grade Algebra is going to be advanced. I assume your child is pretty bright, gets things pretty quickly, etc...

Homework probably isn't needed.

SteveH said...

"More Math Homework Does Not Help Average Achievers Increase Test Scores".

In other words, if the curriculum or teaching is bad, more homework is not going to create understanding. Homework is for mastery. It reminds me of the definition of insanity.

SteveH said...

Bloom's 2 Sigma study is all well and good, but it assumes that schools want mastery learning or that they can agree upon what it is. The study also seems to ignore the problem of full-inclusion. Everyday Math is defined to allow kids to achieve mastery at their own speed. That's why full-inclusion schools love it so much.

When my son was in fifth grade, the math teacher had to slow down to try and help kids who still hadn't mastered 7 + 8. I suppose you don't get research money to study competence.

SteveH said...

"Scientific studies you know."

Did the teacher actually say this?


My 7th grade son will be taking algebra this year too, and if the teacher said that there was not going to be any homework, he would hear about it from me. I wouldn't use any research. I would just call it stupid and lazy and say that now I have to do his job.

Is this the progressive mantra; less is more?

JE said...

"More Math Homework Does Not Help Average Achievers Increase Test Scores"

It says MORE homework doesn't help. It doesn't say that some homework isn't helpful.

It depends upon what kind of homework you are given. Giving homework that practices previously taught skills is very useful. Giving homework that involves students discovering new concepts, etc. can be very counter-productive. That's where frustration creeps in - when the kids are unable to connect what they are doing to previously learned skills.

ChrisA said...

steveh:

I wasn't there, and I doubt the teacher said it the way I did, but she apparently did justify no homework from scientific studies. There will be optional homework.

parentalcation: I wish I know if she were bright or not. In relation to her peers, yes she is. She took Kumon for a number of years and that has left her bored in 6th grade math and probably 7th grade since they are starting with fractions. It would be nice if she were challenged.

anonymous: A graph where the 'y' axis isn't labeled!?? I'm for "mastery" learning, but I doubt everyone agrees what that is. I seriously doubt I would agree with the schools interpretation of mastery learning.

Can someone tell me what group learning has to do with learning math? I don't have the exact text so I'm probably losing something in translation. This was from the HS and my older daughter.

Anonymous said...

"I wasn't there, and I doubt the teacher said it the way I did, but she apparently did justify no homework from scientific studies."

Alfie Kohn has a book a few years old that argues this. There are other books by other authors, too.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

As an example of Alfie Kohn's position, one can read this article by him:
http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/rethinkinghomework.htm

Excerpt: "In preparation for a book on the topic, I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the research. The results are nothing short of stunning. For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school. For younger students, in fact, there isn’t even a correlation between whether children do homework (or how much they do) and any meaningful measure of achievement. At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied."

-Mark Roulo

SteveH said...

" ... since they are starting with fractions."

What textbook or curriculum are they using?

My son's school uses the Glencoe Algebra 1 textbook. It's not perfect, but it has a lot more real math than the CMP they were using. He could be challenged more or taught better, but at least he is on the right track.


"...what group learning has to do with learning math? "

It makes educators feel all warm and fuzzy.

SteveH said...

"At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied."

Another vote for full school choice.

ChrisA said...

Steve,

The math textbook here is also Glencoe Algebra I as well.

ChrisA said...

From a recent post over at Joanne Jacobs site:

“When we found shortcomings, we went back and taught it again. We pulled kids for tutoring. I just break it down to little pieces of math and show (students) what they mean so they can remember. I’m also big on homework to keep them on their toes.”

And Joanne comments...

Checking to see if students understand, reteaching concepts they missed and making students practice skills . . . This is a new idea?

Well....

http://joannejacobs.com/2008/08/20/new-idea-teach-students-to-understand-math/

SteveH said...

I like the response by Rob:

"I would abbreviate the headline to this:

New Idea: Teach Students"


I've always said that schools like to dance (color) all around learning and not dive right in. They want kids to learn by osmosis. "Direct" means drill-and-kill to them. It all translates to low expectations.

They talk about higher-order thinking and doing things better, but it's all a lie. It's not about long division. It's about low versus high expectations.

Anonymous said...

I have always found Marzano's research on homework very compelling. There's also a nice article on the subject in the March 2007 issue of Educational Leadership. You can view it online at http://www.marzanoandassociates.com/pdf/homework.pdf

Anonymous said...

With respect to the Alfie Kohn citation, I do not think that the majority of readers on this blog would be receptive to Alfie Kohn's body of work. We are talking about the man who wrote "The Case Against Standardized Tests." It's a worthwhile read, but probably not the cup of tea of the readers of KTM.

Anonymous said...

"With respect to the Alfie Kohn citation, I do not think that the majority of readers on this blog would be receptive to Alfie Kohn's body of work."

Well, yeah :-)

The Alfie Kohn reference wasn't something I expect most of the KTM readers to agree with (I don't agree with it myself). But ... the 7th grade teacher is referring to scientific studies to justify the "no homework" position. Knowing what these are (or, more likely, knowing what the popularized versions are) can be useful when dealing with this situation.

-Mark Roulo

ChrisA said...

steveh: I like the not dive right in idea. Seems to be my experience.

I'm already getting the multiple ways of solving problems thesis. Not just alternate, but 2 or 3 additional ways.

annonymous: The Marzano article looks interesting. I will read it more fully this evening.

SteveH said...

We went through the homework debate quite a while ago. Less can't be more except when it's really, really bad. Unfortunately, many times it is. Their solution? Get rid of homework. Kudos for their grand thinking.


"Knowing what these are (or, more likely, knowing what the popularized versions are) can be useful when dealing with this situation."

This is true. It prevents you from being struck completely dumb when educators talk about research. You might be able to recover enough to tell them that it is the stupidest thing you ever heard. Of course, it won't make any difference. They are in charge and you're not.


"The Case Against Standardized Tests."

Some search for the truth and some search for a product.

ChrisA said...

Textbook update: My previously supplied textbook information was wrong. The textbook is:

Pearson/Prentice Hall: Algebra I by "Bellman, Bragg, Charles, Hall, Handlin, Kennedy"

SteveH said...

I've mentioned before that a good clue when it comes to math textbooks is to look at the title. If the title is a simple declaration, like Pre-Algebra, or Algebra 1, then it usually means that the book is (relatively) serious about the subject.

If the book adds something on after the title, like "Tools for a Changing World", then you know that you're in trouble. My son is using Glencoe's "Algebra 1" this year and it isn't too bad, but let's compare it with Glencoe's "Algebra: Concepts and Applications."


This is from their online site:


Glencoe Algebra: Concepts and Applications

Chapter 10 Factoring

From their Chapter readiness quiz.

2. Write 10 · 10 · 10 · 10 using exponents.

5. Find 8^10/8^5.

8. Simplify 6(5n + 2).




Glencoe Algebra 1

Chapter 8 Factoring

[Not chapter 10!]

From their Chapter readiness quiz.

2. Find (3x + 4)(5x^2 – 4x + 6).

5. Factor 3x^3 + 2x^2y + 3xy^2 + 2y^3.

7. Factor 6y^2 + 22y – 8.


The textbook people know that code words like "real world" mean lower expectations and easier material. Why do schools insist that these sorts of texts are better? Better for those they have ruined in K-6 math?