Evaluating homework in high school physics

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


What are the best and most effective methods of administering homework in the high school physics class to maximize learning? The project to investigate this question was conducted at Harwood Union High School, a school of about 550 students. I worked with two standard algebra-based physics classes. Two specific policies were analyzed: Checking off for completion only and collecting and grading on correctness. The effectiveness of the policies were measured by giving student quizzes based strictly on previous assigned and completed homework and tracking improvement in seven areas: identifying knowns and unknowns, equation usage, substitution skills, algebraic manipulation, calculations and concept understanding. The results of the project show that the same growth in problem solving skills was obtained whether homework was just checked off for completion or thoroughly examined for correctness. The one area that did seem to make a difference was student's understanding of physics concepts. Students seemed to put in much more thought in answering conceptual questions when they knew their work would be graded on correctness. I also surveyed the other teachers of science and math at my school to see what their homework policies were.




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