Friday, April 4, 2014

Action Research

When I was down in Marshall, we had to present our Action Research. My action research question was, "Does math homework affect student's abilities to gain new math concepts?"

Homework: Schoolwork that a student is required to do at home. It is suggested that any amount of time spent doing homework has benefits such as time management, how to work independently, and how to problem solve. The question is, “Does math homework increase the students ability to gain new math concepts?”

In my review of literature, I came across many intriguing books and articles online.

-In The Battle over Homework (2007), Cooper noted that homework should have different purposes at different grade levels:

            - For students in the earliest grades, it should foster positive attitudes, habits, and character traits; permit appropriate parent involvement; and reinforce learning of simple skills introduced in class.

-Cathy Vatterott wrote, “Homework is a meaningful opportunity to practice or prepare for new learning in a relatively low- stakes way. The best approaches to homework combine clear and engaging design with policies that focus on bringing students closer to their learning objectives.

- Although a small amount of homework may be good for learning, overloading children with hours of homework can actually decrease achievement (Cooper, 2007). So, we need to set reasonable homework time limits.

-The 10-minute rule, endorsed by the National Education Association and the Parent Teacher Association, recommends the maximum amount of nightly homework should not exceed 10 minutes per grade level per night, all subjects combined (Cooper, 2007).                       

            - That is, a 1st grader should have no more than 10 minutes of homework per night, a 6th grader no more than 60 minutes, and a 12th grader no more than 120 minutes per night.

During my research, twelve students were randomly selected in a 1st grade classroom. The twelve students were given a quiz before the math lesson to test their prior knowledge. They were observed during the math lesson. Group 1 was given a quiz right after the math lesson. Group 2 was given the same quiz but the day after they completed their math homework. Their quizzes were corrected and their average quiz scores were found.

There were some interesting field notes and observations:

- One student noticed the labels on the first quiz were in the same order as the pictures. The student blurted this out and the majority of students ended up with 100% on the initial quiz. When they came back to do the second quiz, I saw a true reflection of who had a firm grasp on the concept when the answers were not right in front of them.

- Students wanted to be taught the information before they took the quiz.

- Students worked independently and quietly during the quizzes.

-Students took their time on the quizzes and did not seem to rush.

- Girls seemed to be more excited to be out in the hallway doing extra work than the boys.

- Students were excited during the math lesson because they had all ready seen the material when they were out in the hallway with me.

- Students were not too thrilled about having to take a second quiz because they had already done it.

- I wanted to keep student quizzes anonymous but some students were adamant about getting their quizzes back so, a number of quizzes have names on them.

I observed 12 students in a first grade classroom to see if homework increases the student’s ability to gain new math concepts. From the data I collected I was able to conclude that homework does not have a significant affect on the students ability to gain new math concepts.

Like any research project though, there were factors that affected my findings:

- The majority of my class is high achieving so I was unable to do a true random selection because when I did, each student got 100% the first time they attempted the quiz.

- During the first quiz, group 2 discovered that the labels were in the same order as the pictures below. When they took the quiz after homework, the pictures were in a different order. Some students were unable to match the shape with its name. This affected their score and brought them down from 97% during the first quiz to an average of 87% on the second quiz.

If I were to do this research over again, my recommendation would be not to put labels on a quiz or if you do triple check to make sure their order is not the exact same as the pictures. Another recommendation would be to conduct research over an extended period of time so that students can be exposed to more difficult concepts where homework would be of greater benefit to their understanding.

This study has yielded interesting and pertinent (relevant) results based on the first grade classroom studied. It has revealed that math homework does not have a significant increase on student’s ability to gain new math concepts.

I plan to use math homework within my own 1st grade classroom, but student’s scores will not be recorded in the grade book. I will review student’s homework and provide them feedback but the unit test is the score that will go in the grade book. Homework is a great re-enforcer for math concepts and it offers students some extra practice. I will set the expectation that homework should be done nightly and it needs to be turned in weekly.

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