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Homework is NOT inherently good

DPR’s approach to homework setting and tracking is uniquely different

“Homework refers to tasks given to pupils by their teachers to be completed outside of the usual lessons.” - EEF

If you are serious about improving the standard of assignment set and the quality of assignment submitted, then strongly consider introducing the DPR Assignment. The conceptual approach DPR assignments takes to improve the standard of ‘homework’ as we traditionally know it is unmatched by any other application available.

The problem associated with homework

Homework is very popular with parents, often an indication to suggest a school’s dedication towards education. It is because of this expectation, schools feel that they have to set regular homework. Setting regular homework often overrides the quality of work, resulting in the feeling of unnecessary burden and stress, felt by both teachers and students. This experience has led some schools to question the impact of homework, leading to banning homework altogether! But why throw the baby out with the bath water, especially when research shows that homework has good impact?

Consider the following routine chores in schools:

Lesson delivery: we can sometimes experience inadequate lessons being delivered. We try resolving this by providing support and training to the teachers involved.

Marking: this can be quite burdensome, especially when teachers mark to prove themselves to their seniors and to Ofsted. Retrospective marking that doesn't lead to students fixing their misconceptions is of no benefit to either teachers or students. So we address it by thinking of ways that can make it meaningful and worthwhile.

The point is, if schools ban everything that is being implemented badly, then there will be no need for a school improvement plan.

DPR assignments (homework)

The broader evidence suggests that the quality of homework is more important than the quantity - EEF

DPR assignments was born out of the following question: how can we improve the standards of assignments set and therefore improve the level of impact this has on student learning?

In order to tackle this question, we addressed two key areas:

  1. The process of setting the assignments by teachers to ensure the quality of the assignment set is likely to be guaranteed

  2. The way in which the quality of assignments submitted by students can be monitored by senior leaders, subject leaders and class teachers

The process of setting assignments in DPR

“Have you made the purpose of homework clear to children (e.g. to increase a specific area of knowledge, or fluency in a particular area)?” EEF

There are two key areas to consider when setting assignments in DPR and these closely follow recommendations provided by the EEF report on effective homework setting:

  • We want teachers to think about the types of assignments they set to ensure a sense of purpose.

  • We then expect teachers to explicitly link all assignments set to at least one key learning objective.

“In the most effective examples, homework was an integral part of learning, rather than an add-on.” EEF

The process of monitoring the quality of assignments set (by teachers) and submitted (by students) on DPR

The leadership tracking of the quality of assignments in DPR is four-fold:

  1. Leadership of assignments by the teachers: the ability for the class teacher to track the assignment completion and its quality

  2. Leadership of assignments by the middle leaders: the ability for the heads of departments to track and monitor the frequency and quality of assignments set for their subject areas. This also includes the ability for heads of years to track the amount of assignments completed by the students in their year group

  3. Leadership of assignments by the senior leaders: the ability for senior leaders to comparatively track and monitor the frequency and quality of assignments set for all subject areas in the school, broken down to individual teachers

  4. Leadership of assignments by parents: the ability for parents and teachers to make connections between assignments set, completed and the impact this is having on their key learning objectives (school curriculum)

Leadership of assignments by the teachers

“Pupils should receive specific and timely feedback on homework.”-EEF

This process is made simple for the teachers. It takes them no more than a couple of minutes to both record the quality of assignments submitted and the ability to provide feedback for improvement to one or multiple students at the same time. Feedback can be given by the use of DPR Voice.

Data on assignments can be collected and teachers are able to track, in real time, the performance of students in their classes. See here for an example of real-time data downloaded from ‘DPR Strategic Overview’.

Leadership of assignments by the middle leaders

Heads of department are able to:

i) define the frequency of ‘expected’ assignment setting from teachers

ii) Dip sample the quality of assignments set through the ‘DPR Subject Area Access’. This allows heads of departments to see specific assignments set by different teachers.

They are also able to view which students have completed the assignment and to what quality.

iii) Track the frequency set against expectations, the quality of the assignment submitted by students and how this is impacting the classroom learning. See here for an example of real-time data downloaded from ‘DPR Assignment Analytics’.

Heads of years are able to:

i) track assignment data relating to students belonging to their year groups. For example, they can regularly reward students and intervene with students who submit poor quality assignments. See here for an example of real-time data downloaded from ‘DPR Whole School Insights’.

Leadership of assignments by the senior leaders:

Senior leaders are also able to track the proportion of assignments set against the agreed expectation by subject area. They can also track and monitor the quality of assignments submitted by subject area. See here for an example of real-time data downloaded from ‘DPR Assignment Analytics’.

Leadership of assignments by parents:

Parents are able to view all the assignments set, completed and due in for their children. They can also track the quality of all the submitted assignments by their children.

DPR collaboration: ‘everything is connected’

“To maximise impact, it also appears to be important that students are provided with high quality feedback on their work (see Feedback).”EEF

‘DPR collaboration’ connects some of the learning resources together. You can access DPR collaboration by clicking the speech bubble just before a key objective. Discussion between the teacher and the student about how to improve a key learning objective can be found here.

All the assignments that have been set by the teacher and any other useful learning resources that is specifically linked to a key learning objective can also be found here.

Parents and teachers are able to see how both the student and teacher are collaborating to improve learning through this feature. Parents are also able to gauge the quality of assignments submitted by their children through here.

So what do teachers and students say about DPR assignments?

Our most recent survey reveals extraordinary popularity for DPR assignments among both teachers and students; click on the following data studio link to access the analysis on the DPR assignment and its analytics:

  • Teacher feedback: LINK

  • Student Feedback: LINK

Key message to the school leadership

We recommend that the school leadership explicitly state how they plan to improve the quality of assignments with DPR through its school development plan (SDP) and extend this to their department development plan (DDP). This will ensure plans to improve assignments remains at the heart of the school improvement plan.

Homework is NOT inherently good. But when the expectation for quality and a clear link to learning is established, homework becomes integral to learning. And DPR assignments ensures that this happens.

Further reading


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