Homework still important for assessing students in Hong Kong schools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 3:19pm

Some correspondents have talked about the drawbacks of giving students homework and advocated scrapping it. With all due respect for their stance, I beg to differ for three reasons.

First, homework assignments are necessary assessment tools that can accurately paint a picture of a student’s academic performance.

Of course, the premise is that the homework given is of high quality. It’s also critical that quality takes precedence over quantity, meaning that excessive repetitive drilling that does little to inspire students should be avoided.

By looking at how students perform in an assignment, teachers can diagnose and identify the difficulties they are faced with when learning a particular topic or concept.

This tells teachers whether their pace of teaching has to be adjusted so that students can follow the content with greater ease. Teachers can also gain a deeper understanding of how much modification they have to make to the coverage of textbooks. Such information is essential in helping them formulate better teaching plans and delivering material in a way that is understood by the majority of a class.

Another reason is that students can develop a good habit of meeting deadlines, which goes a long way towards preparing them for future work.

Nowadays, many graduates are lambasted for being irresponsible and not finishing assignments on time. Homework assignments serve the purpose of cultivating a sense of responsibility among students.

Requiring the future pillars of our society to submit work punctually could equip them with the sense of urgency needed to flourish in the workplace.

Working under a tight schedule is part of an employee’s life, so it is fundamentally important that students are trained to do so at a young age. That way, they will gradually develop perseverance and determination, the two qualities that guarantee success in the workplace. Even if they were given only a short period of time to complete an apparently formidable task, they would still get it done without any difficulty.

Last but not least, homework graded into different levels caters to the needs of students of mixed abilities.

Instead of having students work on the same worksheet, teachers can design graded exercises so that the less capable students can keep up, and the brighter ones can stay motivated by the more challenging questions. That way, learner diversity is dealt with.

Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai