Training Teachers to Design
ERIC Identifier: ED482700
Publication Date: 2003-10-00
Author: Battle-Bailey, Lora
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND HOMEWORK
Homework is reportedly a leading factor for improving academic performance for
students who have the ability to work independently and for students who have
adequate parental support to complete home learning assignments (Bailey, 2002;
Bracey, 1996; Comer & Haynes, 1991; Cooper, Jackson, Nye, Y Lindsay, 2001;
Epstein, 1988; Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001; Marjoribanks,
1996; McCarthey, 2000; Swick, 1997; Swick, & Graves, 1993). When parents are
interested in young children's homework, students are more likely to successfully
complete their homework assignments (Cooper et al, 2001).
However, it is important to note that teacher support along with parental support is necessary to significantly
improve student achievement (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). An examination of the
combined effects of teacher support and high parent involvement showed that students'
grade point averages (GPAs) are higher if they experience both high teacher support
and high parent involvement (2.5 on a 4.0 scale), whereas students who experience
high parent involvement and low teacher support earn lower GPAs than their
counterparts (0.5 on a 4.0 scale). Those students who experience both low teacher
support and low parent involvement also earn lower GPAs (0.6 on a 4.0 scale)
(Henderson & Mapp, 2002).
These findings suggest that educators should play an active role in the recruitment of meaningful parent involvement.
Parent training can be helpful for assisting young children with homework. Training is
important because otherwise, some parents may be inadequately prepared to
effectively equip children with skills to improve their overall academic outcomes.
Parents who receive proper training to assist their children with home literacy through
structured homework, can help their children improve academically (Bailey, 2002;
Cooper et al., 2001; Fagella, 1990; Swick & Graves, 1993). To improve parent
involvement, it is important to train teachers to design interactive homework (IH)
assignments based on the following research:
COMPONENTS OF IH ASSIGNMENTS
HOMEWORK FOR DIVERSE STUDENT POPULATIONS
- PARENT-CHILD INTERACTIONS
One key component of IH assignments is the provision for
parent-child interactions. Parents are a crucial part of most children's environments.
Piaget (1954/1981) postulated that children learn best when afforded opportunities to
interact with their environments. If Piaget is correct, then the more children interact with
their parents while completing school assignments, the more likely they are to
Interactive homework promotes meaningful conversations between parents and their
children pertaining to schoolwork (Epstein, 1994; Cooper et al., 2001). This interaction,
between family members and the students helps promote educational interest and
Parental involvement in homework involves academic performance in that it supports
and improves student attitudes related to achievement such as perceptions of personal
competence and self-management (Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey et al.,
2001; Bryan et al., 2001). The implications for teachers are that designing IH can help
- parental involvement,
- students' self-concept, and
- academic achievement.
- PARENT AND STUDENT INTEREST
Parental interest in homework can facilitate student interest, which is crucial for
completing homework assignments that require self-directed and self-management
strategies (Cooper et al., 2001). Cooper et al. (2001) found a positive correlation
between parental interest in homework and homework completion, whereas only a
weak correlation was found between student interest, homework completion and
academic achievement. However, it appeared that elementary students' short attention
spans, their inability to successfully complete homework because of its difficulty,
students' poor study skills, or lack of a supportive home environment was to blame
(Cooper, et al, 2001). This is important for teachers to understand in order to improve
their abilities to design homework that elicits parents' participation and engages
students' thinking (Warton, 2001).
Activities that encourage parents and children to reason through tasks are more
authentic for dealing with daily problems (DeVries & Kohlberg, 1987). Stager (2001)
examined Piaget's philosophy regarding teachers' and children's problem solving.
Piaget found that as children reason through their mistakes, they construct
understandings to complex concepts. When teachers make provisions for engaging
students and parents in meaningful dialogue, students learn to reason through tasks
and arrive at solutions to problems (Warton, 2001). This suggests that teachers should
design IH assignments to foster students' critical thinking skills and to entice parents to
become involved in home learning activities.
Designing homework to increase parent involvement and incorporate goal setting and
self-management or self-directedness should be encouraged (Bronstein & Ginsburg,
1993; Olympia, Sheridan, Jenson & Andrews, 1994; Steinberg, Darling, Dornbusch &
Lamborn, 1992). The use of constructivist techniques (techniques that encourage
children to construct their own understandings through interactions with their
environments, especially with significant adult figures such as parents and teachers)
has been recommended for fostering students' abilities to self-manage the completion of
their own homework. Constructivist approaches are strongly linked with students'
autonomous behaviors in that these approaches appear to foster children's ability to
think and acquire new knowledge independently (DeVries & Kohlberg, 1997).
Autonomous students are more able to complete homework assignments than students
who are not intrinsically motivated and self-directed (Bronstein & Ginsburg, 1993;
Steinberg et al., 1992). Autonomous students are also better able to interact with their
parents during the completion of IH to draw their own conclusions and construct their
own understandings of home learning activities. Teachers are wise to design homework
to incorporate constructivist techniques to foster autonomy, goal setting,
self-management or self-directness.
Injecting homework into students' homes without regard to their backgrounds can be
ineffective, inadvisable, and patronizing (Auerbach 1995; Henderson & Mapp, 2002;
(Taylor, 1997). Teachers should assign homework subsequent to teacher-parent
collaborations, when the teacher is fully aware of children's and parents' backgrounds
and fully regards them (Auerbach, 1995; Fagella, 1990; Taylor, 1997).
In conclusion, when designing homework teachers should consider elements that will
Teachers should also ensure that homework is suitable for diverse populations of students and families.
- parent-child interactions,
- parent-child interest,
- students' reasoning, and
- students' self-management/self-directness.
Teacher training can provide teachers with strategies to help students and parents
develop positibve dispositions for home learning activities that are intended to increase
parental involvement and student academic outcomes (Bailey, 2002: Epstein & Van
Voorhis, 2001). Initial training should last from 3-4 days, with at least 45 hours of
follow-up training throughout the following school year. Training sessions can
accommodate multiple grade levels, K-3, because strategies are not grade-level
specific. Workshops are intended to train teachers how to:
Because it is important for teachers to consider parents' and children's interests when
designing interactive homework assignments (Cooper, et al, 2001; Warton, 2001),
teachers should receive recommendations for gathering data regarding family
backgrounds and interests using an Interest Inventory Checklist. The checklist can be
teacher-made or be copied from teacher resource booklets. The idea is to determine
specific interests of the parent and student audience to increase the likelihood that
homework will be completed and that parents will be involved. Interest inventories can
also provide pertinent information to assure that homework is suitable for the families in
which it is intended.
- evaluate parents'/children's interests using "Interest Inventories";
- develop vocabulary lists to involve students in word study across the curriculum;
- write clear directions for homework assignments to facilitate productive parent-child
dialogue about vocabulary and inference questions or word problems;
- encourage parents to use their experiences to tutor students during the completion
- develop developmentally effective inference questions or word problems across the
- analyze the quality of students' inference making/problem solving in order to make
recommendations for increasing parent involvement and student outcomes.
Workshops should serve to train teachers how to develop strategies that help students
learn new vocabulary across the curriculum. Teachers often make the mistake of
assigning vocabulary words for reading, spelling, science, social studies, and math
separately, which may overwhelm students with the responsibility for "memorizing" the
spelling and or definitions to a myriad of new terms. Creating an integrated vocabulary
list of key words can help link content areas and alleviate the pressure of over
burdening students with unproductive homework.
Training can also help teachers formulate developmentally appropriate inference
questions or word problems across the curriculum. Workshops should train teachers to
selectively extract questions already found within content area teacher manuals.
Teachers can look for questions that require students to
Many curriculum guides provide provocative
questions that involve students in similar activities. Trainings should focus on showing
teachers how to select and design inference questions or word problems to include in
interactive homework assignments.
- reason through scenarios,
- link student matter to home experiences,
- justify or explain solutions, and or
- create models to apply knowledge.
The workshops can also provide teachers with research evidence that supports parent
involvement in homework. Teaches can use this evidence to encourage parental
involvement for increasing academic outcomes and students' self-concepts through the
effective design of IH.
Finally, teachers can learn to provide effective verbal and written directions for
completing homework for parents and children. Teachers often assign homework at the
end of the day or as the bell rings without fully explaining homework directions or
objectives. Researchers recommend that teachers involve students in discussions
related to the objectives and expected outcomes of the assignments. (Bailey 2002;
Bracey, 1996; Comer & Haynes, 1991; Cooper et al., 2001; Epstein, 1988; Henderson &
Mapp, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001; Majoribanks, 1996; McCarthey, 2000;
Swick, 1997; Swick, & Graves, 1993). Additionally, teachers should write directions and
explanations for each assignment in steps so parents and children can interpret how
homework is to be completed. Homework should be assigned in a way that gives the
family some flexibility. For example, if the teacher gives three assignments for the week,
parents/families and children can be given a time frame in which to complete the
assignments rather than one specific date to turn in their work. Allowing for flexibility
and providing clear directions serve to improve students self-directness and ability to
self-manage their work, and increases the likelihood that homework will be completed.
Recent research seems to indicate that these activities positively impact student
academic outcomes, parental involvement and teachers' abilities to design IH
assignments (Bailey, 2002; Henderson & Mapp, 2002).
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S.
Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, under contract number
ED-99-CO-0007. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views
of or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names,
commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
This Digest is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced.
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