Two Opinions: Should Homework be Graded for Accuracy?

Why Graded Homework is Beneficial During iSelectLearning and Hybrid Learning by Margot Schneider ’22

Teachers use homework as a resource to push students’ understanding of the material that is covered in class. It is a space for students to practice and demonstrate their mastery of a skill, presumably for some sort of assessment. During iSelectLearning, many teachers have turned to grading homework for accuracy rather than completion. This is a beneficial way for teachers to check in on the progress of their class, for students to boost their grades, and to motivate students to stay on track during virtual learning. 

Grading homework for accuracy can be a very helpful tool for teachers: homework answers reveal the units or concepts that are especially difficult for students. This feedback informs teachers about the state of their class and helps them adjust accordingly — they can cater their lessons to target the areas in which students struggled. Ultimately, this will help students on their assessments as well: if some class time is spent reviewing difficult concepts that students generally struggled with, they will be more prepared and confident going into assessments. 

In many classes, assessments dictate a significant portion of a student’s final grade. Graded homework assignments help to soften the intense pressure around highly valued tests or assignments, helping students to focus on actually learning the material and demonstrating their understanding over the course of a unit. Consequently, students’ grades will be a more balanced average, instead of being primarily determined by a few stressful and perhaps difficult assessments. Graded homework offers students more gradual control over their grades and the opportunity to better delegate their time, which can be very difficult to do in iSelectLearning. 

It is undeniably more difficult to stay motivated and manage time during virtual school. Learning safely from home certainly has some advantages, but it is absolutely a different environment. It is much easier to get distracted and veer off task in a space where you may have family members working or household responsibilities to accomplish. Graded homework will motivate students to stay on track with their learning and communicate with their teachers and peers if they are struggling. Grades drive students to seek correct answers and necessary assistance to understand the material on pace with the class. If assignments are graded for accuracy, students will be more likely to attend office hours, communicate with teachers and advisors, and make the most of their virtual learning experience.  

The Case Against Graded Homework Assignments by Peter Ryan ’21

What is the purpose of homework? Students should complete additional schoolwork outside of class for three reasons: practicing skills, building an understanding of content, and identifying areas of concern. In order to best achieve these goals, students should feel encouraged to work through assignments without feeling added pressure on their grades. Ideally, students could develop questions for the next class period without feeling stress to answer every question correctly. Of course, assignments should still be graded for completion so that students must still turn work in. However, assignments graded for accuracy, which have become more popular during iSelectLearning, defeat the purpose of homework: they motivate students to prioritize immediate perfection over deeper understanding.

Homework assignments should be spaces to think creatively about problems and experiment with approaches. Graded assignments do the opposite: they force the student to produce perfect answers without giving them the proper time to fully comprehend the bigger picture. An incorrect answer could even lead to an in-class question that addresses other students’ confusions as well. The pressure of homework graded for accuracy may compel students to turn to outside resources to find the correct answer, rather than improving their own handle on class concepts. When homework is graded for accuracy, students suffer twice: their grades may slip and they do not learn as effectively.

Teachers may prefer graded homeworks during iSelectLearning because they can consistently examine students’ understanding of class material. When teachers can’t effectively check in with students every day, homework graded for accuracy may seem like a solid way to give feedback. Students who are fully virtual should be encouraged to utilize office hours to solidify their grasp of subject matter, not punished for struggling with concepts right after they are introduced. These assignments hurt students more than they help, both by adding unnecessary stress and by placing immediate comprehension above concept retainment. In a time when students are adjusting to a more rigorous online curriculum than last spring’s, only assessments should be graded for accuracy.