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Reducing Homework Headaches

Learning SupportReducing Homework Headaches

December 8, 2021

Homework has been a mainstay of our educational experiences, but it is a practice that has been the subject of much debate. Elsewhere on Yup’s blog we have detailed the cyclical discourse for and against homework. Homework has experienced these pendulum swings - from a ban on homework imposed in California in 1901 to widespread support for the practice in the 1950s to accelerate the United State’s competitiveness - for numerous reasons.

Proponents say that at-home assignments extend the time available for learning and augment in-school instruction. There is also evidence of a positive correlation between homework and achievement; studies have shown that students who spend more time doing homework may do better in school. On the other hand, opponents contend that the data doesn’t necessarily suggest an academic benefit to homework. And, nearly everyone agrees that too much homework quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns.

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Research aside, homework can cause real, daily challenges for students and teachers alike:

Students (and the families at home who want to support them) contend with numerous headaches:

  • Time: Completing homework assignments competes with time students need and want for other priorities, like engaging in activities that let them pursue other interests, working or taking care of siblings at home, spending time with friends and family, or finding time to rest.
  • Confusion: If students struggle with an assignment at home, they don’t necessarily have ready access to get help when they need it. This tends to be particularly true in the case of math, when parents may struggle to help with math assignments.

Teachers are keenly aware of the stresses homework can put on their students:

  • Time: Teachers feel students’ pain when it comes to time required for at-home work, as one teacher sympathizes: “Students work really hard when they’re at school. To then say that they’re going to have to work more when they get home doesn’t seem to honor how much energy they were expending during the day.”
  • Confusion: Teachers also worry about the compounding effect of homework on confused students. “For the kids who understand the information, additional practice is unnecessary. The kids who need more support are going to go home and not do it right,” one long-time teacher explains. “It's just going to confuse them more. They don’t have the understanding and they need guidance.”

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Yup: Your homework helper

As long as homework is here, Yup is here to help. Our math tutors can curb the effects of homework headaches:

  • Time: Yup offers on-demand access to one-on-one tutoring anytime (24/7) and anywhere (on a laptop or mobile device), so that students can get help whenever and wherever they need it.
  • Confusion: Our tutors are math content experts who are also trained to help students build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding. They assess prior knowledge, provide examples with visual aids, and check for understanding throughout each session.

In addition to helping curb daily homework challenges, Yup’s Teaching Framework also aligns with recommendations by policy makers and educators to ensure homework is a productive tool for learning. Consider the following best practices from a report published by the Department of Education:

Provide constructive feedback

Feedback is the most helpful when teachers provide specific suggestions on how the homework can be improved and discuss problems and remedies.

✅ Yup tutors pay close attention to precision throughout the entire problem-solving process - not just the correct, final answer. For instance, if a student makes a mistake or uses an imprecise word to describe a part of the problem, tutors will gently but clearly point out the error. If a student asks to have their answer checked, the tutors will ask that they explain their work or reasoning first.

Give praise and motivate

Encouragement and praise can be very motivating. However, praise must be genuine since students recognize insincere compliments.

✅ Yup tutors praise students for effort, perseverance, and excellence throughout sessions. They use genuine, positive, upbeat, and specific language to motivate students and make them feel supported.

Give help as needed

Students who don't understand an assignment need to know that help is available from the teacher or other appropriate person. It is important that they know it is okay to ask for help.

✅ Yup tutors address all questions and are also trained to be attuned to emotional cues or more subtle signs of confusion. When a student stumbles, tutors ask questions that scaffold students’ own thinking, rather than stepping in to do the work for them.

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Communicate with parents

Teachers can also help create situations that allow parents and educators to work together to strengthen all learning, including what takes place at home.

✅ All Yup tutoring sessions are transcribed and stored on a student dashboard along with metrics and tutor summaries. This way, parents and teachers can monitor student successes and areas where they might need more support.

Show respect for students

Students are more inclined to complete assignments when teachers and students respect one another. Students sense when teachers care about them and want them to do their best work.

✅ Empathy is the first of three core pillars of Yup’s Teaching Framework. Yup tutors aim to create a safe, non-judgmental environment. The student is in the driver’s seat in every session: tutors keep the thinking squarely on the student, recognize their effort and skills, and in the end it's always up to the student whether they want to log off or stick around for more learning.

Learn more

Teachers and Administrators: Whether during class, study hall, or at home, Yup makes personalized tutoring simple and a natural extension of your classrooms. Yup delivers 1:1 math tutoring that expands math teacher capacity and supports student learning.

Contact partnerships@yup.com to learn more about bringing Yup to your school or district.

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