Prepared by the researcher
Lamyae ZHAOUI,MTEFL student, Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra Morocco
Laila ZHAOUI, Université Ibn-Tofail. Kenitra. – Doctorante, Faculté des langues, lettres et arts, Laboratoire Langage et Société.
Democratic Arab Center
Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies : Twenty-fifth Issue – September 2022
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies
:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link
This research presents the results of a study conducted on a group of 44 9th grade students, studying at Azzohour Junior high school, Lalla Mimouna, Kenitra to analyze their perception of the phenomenon of homework, and its usefulness for them. From my very humble experience in teaching, I have noticed that learners’ interest in doing their homework is dimming. This problem can be caused by several elements namely the absence of motivation, lack of understanding, or the absence of guidance and help from a family member or even from teachers. That is why I decided to work on this matter as a reflection on my classroom practices, and as a tool to help me find possible solutions. The aim of this study is to better understand the students and provide practical suggestions for classroom applications. This paper will answer the following questions: what makes students lose interest in their homework? What are the intervening elements? To what extent do they believe in its usefulness? And what are the possible solutions implemented in the classroom? Results were collected through the analysis of data collected from students using a survey.
Cette recherche présente les résultats d’une étude menée sur un groupe de 44 élèves de 3ème AC au collège Azzohour, Lalla Mimouna, province de Kenitra, pour analyser leur perception des devoirs proposés et leur utilité pour eux. D’après notre propre expérience dans le domaine de l’enseignement, nous avons constaté que l’intérêt des apprenants à faire leurs devoirs s’estompe. Ce problème peut être causé par plusieurs éléments tels que l’absence de motivation, le manque de compréhension, ou encore l’absence d’orientation et d’aide d’un membre de la famille ou même des enseignants. C’est pourquoi nous avons décidé de travailler sur ce sujet comme une réflexion sur nos pratiques de classe, et comme un outil permettant de nous aider à trouver des solutions possibles. Le but de cette étude est de mieux comprendre les étudiants et de fournir des suggestions pratiques pour parfaire notre travail en classe. Cet article répondra aux questions suivantes : Qu’est-ce qui fait que les élèves se désintéressent de leurs devoirs ? Quels sont les éléments intermédiaires ? Dans quelle mesure croient-ils à son utilité ? Et quelles sont les solutions possibles à mettre en œuvre en classe ? Les résultats ont été recueillis grâce à l’analyse des données collectées auprès des élèves à l’aide d’un questionnaire.
Students nowadays have so many distractors around them which make it very challenging for them to do their exercises at home. The use of social media and games has heavily influenced their lack of interest in education. However, these factors can be used by teachers as a plus to encourage learning through other means other than the traditional methods and techniques.
Homework has been a controversial issue for centuries since it plays a significant role in education. It can be seen as an extension of the classroom to the students ‘homes where they get to work on what was discussed in class to reinforce their learning skills. Almost everyone involved in education has something to say about the effectiveness of homework and whether or not it is useful. On one hand, some educators maintain that homework increases academic involvement (Bursuck, 1994), and on the other hand some parents believe it deprives their kids of socializing or having time for themselves. Whether these claims are true or not, to get a closer look at this issue, proper research should be conducted to help solve the problem.
In this paper, the main focus is on learning about the students’ perspectives and interests to increase the effectiveness of homework. Teachers should be reflective practitioners. They have to always question their classroom practices to deliver good quality material and comprehensible instructions suitable for the level of the students. That is why; this study is conducted to shed light on the homework phenomenon through the exploitation of the following questions: what makes students lose interest in their homework? What are the intervening elements? To what extent do they believe in its usefulness? And what are the possible solutions implemented in the classroom?
- THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK:
To build a strong foundation for this paper, few terms need to be defined and clarified.
Homework is all the extra-curricular activities and exercises given to students to complete in their homes. Harris Cooper, a leading expert on the relationship between homework and achievement, defines homework as “tasks assigned by school teachers that are meant to be carried out during no instructional time” (Bembenutty, 2011b, p. 185). This implies that students also play a huge role in constructing and building their knowledge by having exercises as an extension of their classroom learning. They rely on their memory and level of attention when the teacher was delivering the lesson to complete their assignments at home.
Homework can be assigned for so many reasons depending on whose perspective we are taking into consideration. For schools, homework is given to students to create a link between schools and the students’ homes which enables communication so that parents can monitor their kids more closely from the comfort of their homes. Another reason is rooted in parents’ perspectives; they believe that if students are not assigned homework they are not studying well enough. Their only concern is for their kids to score well in their examinations, therefore, assuring a good academic career.
Homework is often a hot-button issue for schools and is thus a frequent topic of educational research. Although teachers believe that doing homework pays off, they do not pay enough attention to its planning and implementation (Hallam, 2004). Homework should be seen as any other part of the lesson where planning and organization are the main steps taken to ensure comprehension and quality learning. To put it differently, teachers’ main concern, in this case, is to guarantee the design of effective homework taking into consideration students’ expectations, needs, interests, and so on.
1.2 Effective homework:
Increasing the effectiveness of homework is a complex matter. Unfortunately, not many teachers acknowledge this, and they often fall into the trap of using homework ineffectively. Teachers sometimes choose to assign homework as a punishment. Using it in this way communicates to students that schoolwork is boring and aversive. It also increases their level of stress and anxiety.
Homework can only be considered effective if it helps students gain a better understanding of the lesson, therefore, scoring higher on their tests. That is why many factors should be taken into consideration when creating helpful and useful exercises. The process of doing homework requires careful examination. Whether pupils have enough resources and whether they (can) do it by themselves may affect the effectiveness of homework. Some homework assignments force parents to help their children with the homework or ‘teach’ them. Moreover, many other parents take homework seriously and do their best to ‘support’ their children (Hallam, 2004).
Besides their parents’ guidance and support, students can do it on their own if it’s the right amount and quality of homework. Teachers can involve their students in the making of their suitable assignments. The best teachers know that children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions (Kohn, 2005). So for homework to yield the best possible results, teachers should take into account the following criteria:
- Create quality exercises:teachers should provide the students with clear and narrow instructions with relative recourses. It is best to revolve the assignments around one concept at a time to not confuse the students or make them feel overwhelmed. If a teacher has a reputation for giving busy work, students will not engage consistently and even miss important assignments.
- Offer choices: when given the choices, students can make the best decisions and excel at their learning. This helps them become more invested and enjoy the process more. So teachers should take into consideration giving their students options whenever possible. For instance, when assigning writing homework, teachers can provide a variety of topics so students can pick the most interesting and relevant to them.
- Align assignments to their skill level: although it can be challenging to assign different types of homework to each individual in the classroom, teachers can group students based on their level and give them exercises accordingly. For example, assigning advanced students exercises that require more abstract thinking.
- Relate homework to real life:if the topic is interesting and relatable students are more likely to complete their homework assignment. Teachers should use entertaining stories inspired by their students’ environment to spark their interest and encourage them to learn. For example, choosing a reading passage from their culture to prepare for their upcoming reading lesson.
Motivation is the most crucial element in teaching and learning. Johnstone (1999, p. 146), considers motivation as a stimulant for achieving a specific target. Similarly, according to Ryan & Deci (2000), to be motivated means to progress or to be in motion to do something. When students believe that they need to learn a language to be able to communicate with others or accomplish a specialized goal, they will be stimulated and inspired to obtain expertise and skill in it.
Motivation comes in two classifications, (1) Integrative & instrumental (2) Intrinsic & extrinsic. Research has confirmed that success or failure in second language learning depends very much on these two kinds of motivation (Lightbrown & Spada, 2001).
On one hand, (1) Integrative motivation means learning the language with the interest of participating in the culture of its people or joining a certain group or crowd. While instrumental motivation is concerned with using the language as a tool to achieve a goal or purpose. Students who don’t have instrumental or integrative motivation will face problems and difficulties to learn and gain knowledge of a second language in the classroom and generally, learning the language would be difficult for them (Cook, 2000). On the other hand, (2) intrinsic motivation is concerned with how much activity is interesting or enjoyable to the learner, Students who have intrinsic motivation are inclined to stay with intricate and complicated problems and gain knowledge from their slips and mistakes (Walker, Greene, & Mansell, 2006). Extrinsic motivation however is the need to do an activity or complete an assignment to get a reward or punishment, like being successful in an exam or getting a good grade. All in all, these classifications help a learner get to the desired level in the target language, and teachers should consider these elements when choosing suitable methods to adopt.
To draw a link between homework and motivation, teachers should encourage their students to do their assignments by letting them make mistakes, and embracing their learning difficulties. Teachers should admire, respect, and value the students’ differences and they should never contrast the language learners with one another.
- PRACTICAL PART:
This study was conducted on 44 9th grade students from Azzohour junior high school, Lalla Mimouna, Kenitra. These students were selected randomly from 10 classes to be able to get a sample from each class and learn about their experiences concerning the homework phenomenon.
The selected students were given a survey where they were asked a mixture of open and close-ended questions. All students were able to answer 13 questions. So no copy got illuminated, therefor 44 copies were selected for analysis. Students were asked to return the survey within 2 days.
In this part, we are going to describe the specificities of this research barring in mind the different qualitative and quantitative variables as well as the target sample and its time and space as seen below:
- Target zone: Azzohour junior high school, Lalla Mimouna, Kenitra.
- Target age: 9th grade students between the age of 14 and 15 years old
- The studied variables:
- Opinion on the English language
- Use of English outside the classroom
- Guidance received at home
- Types of Homework
- Importance of Homework
- Teacher’s intention
- With or against Homework
- Obstacles faced in doing homework
- Favourite Homework
- Target Variables: Students use of English outside the classroom, guidance or help received at home, the importance of homework, and their favourite type of homework.
- Data collection procedure: after collecting the surveys, students’ answers got filled in the Excel software then transformed into figures using the XLSTAT 2022 software.
2.3 Data analysis:
59% of the participants are girls since the school contains a high percentage of girl students.
Figure 1 : Gender
The target age is between 14 and 15 years old because none of the participants is a repeater.
Figure 2: Age
100% of students are 9th graders since it is the only level we teach.
Figure 3 : Level
2.3.4 Opinion on the English language:
41% of students find the English language fun because they are motivated to learn it due to their interest in English songs and movies.
Figure 4 : Opinion on the English language
2.3.5 Use of English outside school:
64% of students do not use English outside their classrooms because they do not necessary communicate with it in their environment.
Figure 5: Use of English outside school.
2.3.6 Guidance received at home:
68% do not receive any help or guidance from their parents or relatives because the majority of them did not receive any formal education.
Figure 6 : Guidance or help
2.3.7 Type of homework:
48% of students find assignments easy because we try to adapt them to their level as much as possible.
Figure7 : Type of homework
2.3.8 Importance of homework
66% are conscious of the importance of homework even if they do not like to complete them.
Figure 8: Importance of homework
2.3.9 Teacher’s intention:
41% believe that teachers want to test their level of comprehension through assigning homework.
23% believe that homework provides them with a sense of autonomy.
Figure 9 : Teacher’s intentio
2.3.10 With or against homework:
77% are against homework even if they know its importance.
Figure 10 : With or against homework
27% find difficulty in doing or completing their homework due to lack of time or absence of help.
Figure 11 : Obstacles
2.3.12 Favorite Homework
52% prefer homework in the form of games.
15% prefer textbook homework.
Figure 12: Favorite Homework
2.4 Target variables:
In this research, the main focus is on analyzing the four variables as seen in figures 5, 6, and 8 12. Due to the lack of opportunities outside the classroom, only 36% of students claim to communicate in English with others, mainly while gaming or chatting on social media. Consequently, they believe that doing homework will not help them in gaining fluency which is why they skip it.
On another dimension, 68% of students do not do their homework because they do not receive any help or guidance from their relatives and family members. Their parents’ socioeconomic background is important in understanding this matter. The majority of families in this region are busy with work and farming, they do not find time to see or spend time with their kids. In addition to that, they did not receive any formal education to equip them with the tools needed to help their kids with their homework.
When analyzing figure 8, 66% of students claim that homework is important in the teaching and learning process. Even if they do not necessarily do it, the majority of learners are conscious of the crucial position of informal education.
As for figure 12, students have mixed opinions on the type of homework they usually prefer. 52% of them prioritize exercises in the form of games. They get the opportunity to have fun while learning new things. However, 31% like homework with pictures, mainly due to their visual learning style. Lastly, only 16% of students prefer textbook exercises because they are available and accessible to them anytime.
2.5 Other responses:
In figure 11, the data shows the various obstacles students face which prevent them from doing or completing their homework. However, not all students live in the same circumstances therefore another section was added so students can express their personal opinion based on their situation.
Here are some of their personalized answers mentioned in the section of “Other”:
- Students do not do their homework because they simply forget about it.
- Where they live there is no electricity.
- They cannot focus.
- They spend the majority of their time helping their families with house chores.
- They lack expressiveness in the target language.
- They do not have a textbook.
2.6 Research limitations:
In the process of conducting this research, we faced several obstacles as mentioned below:
– The first obstacle was choosing a suitable and researchable problem. There were so many suggestions such as working on the problem of assessment for mixed-ability classes, the reliability of comprehension texts in writing, and the efficacy of using games in the classroom. After so many readings and observational sessions inside the classroom, I finally decided to work on the phenomenon of homework.
– The huge number of students made it hard for me to choose the number of participants to work on. Each student is different in her/his way, so generalizing the findings on almost 400 students, and claiming that they all have the same perspective is tricky.
– The lack of prior knowledge of data analysis made it difficult for me to treat and organize the data collected from the surveys. However, I took this as an opportunity to learn a new skill, and develop myself in this area.
– I would’ve loved to compare results from two different categories of participants with different teachers but unfortunately I am the only teacher at Azzohour junior high school, and I did not find the opportunity to contact other teachers from different schools.
– Due to lack of time, the solutions presented in this research paper were not put into practice therefore I could not provide before and after results.
2.7 Solutions and recommendations:
For teachers to yield the best possible results concerning the phenomenon of homework, and to reinforce the habit of effective homework, these solutions and recommendations should be taken into consideration:
– Teachers should always check homework to hold students accountable and make them realize the importance of its importance. Once students realize you are the type of teacher who always checks homework, they’ll be more likely to complete it.
– Teachers should design homework based on their students’ needs, interests and socioeconomic environment. It should be fun and engaging where students get to learn without feeling stressed or anxious.
– Always praise students for their time and effort even if they do their homework incorrectly, but make sure you don’t overdo it since students can sense when you are being genuine.
– Teachers should provide clear instructions so students won’t feel the need to ask for help, and if they do, their teacher should be available. Teachers also should create links with their students outside the school such as working using online platforms, or study groups where they can check for mistakes or get help from their peers.
Homework has the potential to be an extremely valuable part of students’ learning experience. It provides them with the privilege of succeeding in their tests and getting better grades. Educators can set students up for success by communicating with parents about homework expectations and student needs, taking into account varying exceptionalities in homework design, and teaching students self-regulation techniques through homework assignments. The purpose of this research is to shed light on the importance of this phenomenon, and its effective role in students’ academic achievements.
Survey on Students ‘lack of interest in homework and its negative effect on their academic achievement:
- Gender (X): Boy Girl
- Age: ……………………………………………………………
- Level: ………………………………………………………….
- School: ………………………………………………………..
- Your opinion on the English language: Fun Useful Boring Not useful
- Is there anyone in your area who know English: Yes No
- What is your opinion on the assignments provided by your teacher:
Easy Hard A lot
- Do you consider homework important: Yes No
- Why do teachers assign homework: Measure students’ level Test students comprehension Promote autonomous learning
- Are you with or against homework: With Against
- What prevents you from doing homework: Time Lack of understanding No help other: …………………………
- What type of homework do you prefer: Textbook exercises Exercises with picture Games other: ……………….
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