Yesterday I shared three keys for designing effective homework:
- Interest: students need to find the material itself interesting
- Relevance: students need to believe that the activity will cause them to learn the material
- Appropriate Level of Challenge: students need to be stretched, not broken
When an assignment fails in one of these areas, students disengage. Some will skip the assignment, many put in a lousy effort, while others will copy the answers.
Today I’m talking to the students: if your professor isn’t designing homework that hits these keys, what can you do?
Do them for Yourself
Any time you’re tempted to skimp on your homework efforts, ask yourself which of these issues it is, and fix it yourself.
Not interested in the subject?
Find ways to get interested: read articles, browse websites of companies that operate in that area, search the web for videos and blogs related to keywords from the chapter. Form a study group and argue about it.
Not sure if the assignment is relevant?
Ask the professor what the educational purpose is. Compare your assignment to others. Read a blog or two about teaching and learning. Try to understand the mechanics of teaching and you’ll grow as an independent learner.
Not sure if the challenge is appropriate?
If you’re stuck, work an easier question first. Yes, even if it wasn’t assigned. Pick a few questions from the beginning of the homework section in your text. Work an example or two from the chapter before reading the solution. Turn them in with the rest of your work to help show the professor what you needed to learn effectively. Believe it or not, gaining traction by solving a few easy questions first might reduce the overall time you spend on your homework. It will certainly drop the frustration and increase the learning!
Don’t let bad Homework ruin a class!
I get it. You’re paying good money to learn content from excellent teachers. Sometimes you get an instructor who isn’t very effective at meeting your learning needs. You can check out and learn nothing, or you can stop romanticizing about how the world should be and live in the one that is.
Life is yours to co-create, not consume. You’re in the business of making your life incredible