Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Self-Efficacy and Homework" or "The 'ifs' of Homework"

Today I was reading this summary of studies about the roles of homework and self-efficacy in closing the mathematics achievement gap. (http://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/how-much-homework-should-you-give-your-students-math-achievement/)

It seems to suggest two things...
1. Self-efficacy is essential in closing the achievement gap
2. Math homework is the way for students to develop self-efficacy

Number 1 seems very reasonable. Indeed, I have come across many other studies regarding self-efficacy and its role in math anxiety, achievement gap, and gender differences.

Number 2, however, has me scratching my head. It is unclear to me why the authors of this study single out homework as the means for developing self-efficacy. Especially because it is entirely dependent upon the student having access to all necessary support resources at home in order to complete the math homework thereby developing the self-efficacy.

It seems that many who support math homework do so with several "ifs" attached. For example, this blog post ends with a series of such "ifs".
Unless and until we work our the "ifs", issues such as math anxiety, ethnic/racial achievement gaps, and gender achievement gaps are likely to continue vexing our profession.

While the adults are working out the "ifs" it seems we need to ensure we are doing no harm to the students. Reading for K-5 homework? No question...yes! No "ifs" there. Math for K-5 homework? Hold your horses...let's carefully work out the "ifs". In the meantime, definitely do this!