The purpose of assigning homework is often to provide students with independent practice, allowing them to master math concepts and skills. Unfortunately, this is not what's happening in many classrooms. Many students are not completing the work, cheating, or just going through the motions, missing out on valuable learning opportunities.

Here are some reasons why your math homework is not delivering the results you expect it to:

1. Lack of Completion: A significant number of students do not complete their homework, either due to time constraints or a lack of understanding. How often, have the teachers heard the statement: “I forgot to do it ma’am” ? They miss out on the opportunity to practice and learn from mistakes.

2. Cheating: With easy access to technology, cheating has become increasingly prevalent. Students who cheat are not benefiting from the work and missing out on the opportunity to learn.

3. No Immediate Feedback: Even students who complete the work without cheating may not receive immediate feedback, making the practice less valuable. Feedback is crucial in helping students master new concepts, build confidence, and learn from their mistakes. However, teachers correct the homework independently of their students and at most, the students get to know if they got the answers right or not. They don’t usually know why, and definitely do not get to know what they need to do to fix it.

More often than not, the teacher just reads out or shows the solution in the classroom, letting students determine if they were right or wrong. More importantly, this feedback is never immediate. The teacher, therefore, loses the power to make the homework a learning activity, simply because she is unable to provide immediate feedback. Ideally, immediate feedback is the most effective way of helping the student learn and correct course.

4. Wrong Motivation: Students often do homework for the teacher (or for their parents), not for themselves. This means they may take shortcuts or cheat instead of truly engaging with the material and understanding the problems. As long as they can present something on the due date, they are fine.

5. Lack of Differentiation: Every student in the classroom gets the same homework, irrespective of their skill and ability. This “standardized” homework demotivates both, the high performers who may not find it challenging enough, and the strugglers who find it too challenging.

6. Mere Formality: Many teachers assign homework as a mere formality. This passes the onus of learning to the child, instead of making it the teachers’ responsibility to have the child learn from it. The focus shifts from achieving learning outcomes, to simply completing tasks and checking them off a list.

So, how do we make homework not just valuable, but a powerful tool for both, the teachers and students, and even parents, that leads to achieving learning outcomes?

Here are some ways of making homework highly effective:

Provide Differentiated Homework: Average students may have to practice problems anywhere from 10-30 times to become proficient. But mere practice is not effective, unless it is correct practice. Assigning homework that is differentiated based on the child’s skill, ability and knowledge sets the child up for success. It also develops confidence in the child and makes her more interested in completing the homework.

Give Immediate Feedback: The lack of immediate feedback is a major factor in the ineffectiveness of homework. To make homework more valuable, students need to receive feedback after each problem, allowing them to learn from mistakes and build confidence as they progress. Giving feedback immediately as the child completes the task ensures maximum learning. Feedback delivered in a positive way, also helps to build confidence.

Recommend a Follow-up/Learning Plan: Along with feedback, a follow up plan that either helps the child with remedial or take the next step forward, helps the child become better self-learners. Here, the role of the teacher evolves into a facilitator. In the right setting, the teacher even becomes a collaborator.

How Technology Can Help

Technology solutions exist that allow teachers to not just assign homework, but also correct it and give immediate feedback to the student. Schools and teachers who remain wary of implementing technology because of fear (“Technology will replace the teacher, better to keep it out”) or lack of interest, often cite constraints like finances (technology is cheaper than you imagine), extra work (it actually reduces your workload) or lack of parental support (“parents only want their kids to use real books and not mobile phones or computers any more”) are depriving themselves and their students of the power to achieve real learning and progress.

By using the right solutions, teachers can be freed up from the administrative burden of correcting homework and instead, focus on providing specific interventions and instructions to struggling children.

Personalized intervention, and one-on-one feedback for every assignment can take forever. This is why teachers quickly revert to chalk-and-talk method of reviewing homework. With the right set of tools, this can be eliminated from the homework process and replaced by personalized learning plans and recommendations, driven by technology and data.

Additionally, a good tech solution, can also capture data from every problem that the child solves and create a rich data set and recommendations for the teacher, which she can use to provide remedials in the classroom. When such data is presented properly, the teacher can also identify cases that require one-on-one attention, vs. those which can be resolved through group interventions and peer learning.

The Shameless Marketing Plug

Before I conclude, I would be remiss in not mentioning Countingwell's role elevating homework from Work to an Instrument of Learning.

Its unique Maths homework platform allows teachers to assign personalized homework to children. Countingwell’s Formative assessment-driven AI determines the child’s skill, ability and knowledge level and assigns tasks at that level.

It delivers immediate feedback on homework completion and then enables the child with remedial learning content.

Finally, it gathers data from the child’s attempts to complete the homework problems and provides the teacher with rich reports that help them make data driven decisions and make appropriate interventions in the classroom, to the point of even identifying learning deficits from earlier years.

This process makes the teachers’ role much more effective and works towards helping children not just overcome Maths-anxiety but also start developing confidence and mastery in the subject

Do write back if you would like to learn more.

Happy Technology to You :-)

The future of maths education is not solitary; it's synergistic. So, are you ready to make the shift?

I look forward to hearing stories of innovations and ideas you implemented. You may have read about it in my blogs or tried something of your own. Either way, please do write to me and I will be happy to share them (and credit you) with the world through my blogs.

Contact Me

Nirmal Shah


Nirmal is the Co-Founder of Countingwell. He is on a mission to make Maths learning easy, anxiety-free, and participative for schoolchildren. He is responsible for developing and delivering engaging and effective Math lessons and courses that help students develop confidence and problem-solving skills. He has also designed career and life-oriented courses for schoolchildren that show the relevance and importance of Mathematics in various domains and situations, particularly in the domain in financial literacy and money management.

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