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'This slide presentation is for a study that I have undertaken. The study is titled 'A phenomenological Study of Homework from the perspective of elementary special education teachers of students with learning disabilities.' The sturdy deals with the perspectives and experiences of teachers of students with learning disabilities regarding the value they place on homework. The value and the very subject of homework have been very controversial to many over the centuries since homework has been part of the educational system in the United States ever since schools were founded. In the 1800s, it was typical to have 14-21 hours of homework given to students per week. It was during this time that the value of homework started to be questioned. It was in 1897 that Dr. Joseph Mayer Rice questioned the concept of homework. Also In the late 1900s a journal by the name Ladies' Home Journal ran an article that rallied anti-homework supporters who claimed homework was unhealthy and wanted it abolished. In the 1920s The American Child Health Association conducted a study that found out that children could be negatively affected by homework. It was also suggested in the 1930s that homework was not fair and infringed on family time. Also, the Society of the Abolition of Homework was founded. The 1940s saw an education shift from drilling problems to problem-solving strategies. Following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the U.S. Government faulted the lack of homework as the reason American children were falling behind their Russian counterparts. In the 1960s the belief persisted that homework trumped all important activities. The 1970s saw many political and cultural changes that surrounded the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement and once again homework went by the wayside. A 1980s report entitled, The Nation at Risk stirred up education and reported that mediocrity was acceptable in schools. The No Child Left Behind legislation in 2000 took the stage, and schools began to feel pressure by the government to perform and set higher standards.
The need for research is fueled by the fact that homework continues to be assigned to students and yet both teachers and parents and teachers question its effectiveness and how it contributes to the student's academic achievement. Many elementary school teachers have different perceptions and beliefs when it comes to giving homework to children with learning disabilities. Children with learning disabilities may either not turn in their homework or not complete it. This would lead to either the student failing the class or even in worse cases the student might drop out of school this is very evident since studies have indicated that children with learning disabilities are also not graduating at the same rate as most of their classmates. Students with learning disabilities lack to turn in their homework due to a couple of reasons for example some assignments may be too long or too difficult for them to understand while others may have unclear directions. The whole study is based on points of those who have been for or against homework. After I did thorough review of the related literature I found out that phenomenological studies had not been conducted regarding educators' accounts of homework assignments, a gap that this qualitative study addressed. Such diversity of perceptions and attitudes regarding homework required a critical examination of educational practices and individual teacher experiences with homework. I also conducted a review by obtaining and reviewing multiple school district policies regarding grading homework and weighting the assignments in final grades. The results indicated that numerous students are failing because they submit unfinished homework or do not submit any homework. Implications from this study may include changes in the ways homework is assigned (if it is assigned appropriately) and a reconsideration of grading procedures. Deciding not to grade homework or possibly reconstructing and modifying homework assignments for students with learning disabilities could be a possible outcome of this study. A secondary outcome might involve opening teacher discussions with administrators about establishing homework policies in school districts as well as customizing homework to the abilities of the students. Little research has been conducted on teacher perspectives and their thoughts and feelings regarding the homework assigned to the population of students with learning disabilities. The data gathered in this study will help educators and administrators gain a better understanding of the experiences, feelings, and thoughts of teachers on homework. By allowing teachers to share their experiences, this research could contribute to better professional development to prepare teachers for increasingly diverse learners.
Teachers' trainings regarding homework have also been a concern with regard to properly writing custom-tailored assignments for students with learning disabilities. A survey coupled with an interview of more than 300 teachers was conducted and only one individual claimed to have taken a course that focused on homework. In addition, a teacher survey was also completed and only 18% had actually attended professional development workshops on the topic of homework assignments can be created that are structured and tiered according to a student's skill level to help foster positive experiences in learning which in turn could result in a better submission rate of homework, higher passing rates in classes, as well as lower retention rates and drop-out rates. So to paint a clear phenomenology was used to carry out the sturdy. The main purpose of this sturdy I undertook was to identify the thoughts, feelings, experiences and attitudes of the teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 regarding the value, application, and creation of homework assignments.
This phenomenological study involved face-to-face interviews of teachers at multiple sites i.e. diners, diners, classrooms, conference rooms. The choosing of the location of the interview was a matter of mutual convenience. The teachers were also observed and anecdotal notes were taken. Teachers selected for this study were those working in public school districts in the State of New York. These teachers had to have been currently teaching students with learning disabilities in grades 3?6 and had to have had at least two years of teaching experience. For the purpose of the sturdy I conducted thirteen interviews with the teachers who met the aforementioned requirements. In order to recruit teachers for this study I posted a publication on special education web sites, teacher sites, and the Council for Exceptional Children. Participants were not compensated for the interviews.
During the interview I easily gained and established rapport and trust with the assistance of reiterating how much this study will assist others and how much their opinion means. Once rapport was established I explained to the respondents the need of the digital tape recorder was explained. All questions were asked in the same order to compare data systematically. The questions were concise, standardized, and open-ended to allow for free thoughts to occur from the participants. Once the interview was completed, participants were asked if they would like to add anything. It was explained that their information will be kept confidential and that they will receive a copy of the typed transcript in the mail and to make any changes, sign, and return to me. Known as member-checking, this procedure ensured that the interpretation made was free of any errors, and was concise and accurately reflected the message of the participant.
Participants were assigned an alphanumeric code to ensure confidentiality. The meaning units were then ranked, compared, and reduced from meaning units to themes and tracked using a spreadsheet to reduce the data into identified themes. Concepts and themes that emerged from the interview process were compared and analyzed. Upon reviewing each transcription, a content log of meaning units were reviewed, and emerging themes were recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. In this study, emphasis was placed on the perspectives of the special education teachers; thus, the outcome of this study should have an impact on the way students with learning disabilities are assessed, which may cause teachers to review their classroom homework policies and procedures to best meet the needs of these students.
In accordance with the purpose of the study to know the views of teachers for the special education regarding their experiences in creating appropriate homework assignments for students with learning disabilities, six research questions were designed and developed by reviewing the related literature. The input, views, and experiences of the teachers from their own classrooms were very important for understanding the reason homework is given. It also gave a clear picture on the value that teachers place on homework, and the type of homework assigned.
The questions for this study were developed from the review of related literature. These questions are as follows:
1. What values do teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 place on homework practices?
2. How do teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 use homework assignments?
3. To what extent do teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 believe that homework contributes to higher academic achievement?
4. Why do teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 assign homework?
5. What professional development training has teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6 had in the creation of homework assignments?
6. What is the school district's policy regarding homework for the teachers of students with learning disabilities in grades 3'6?
The response of teachers for the above questions is as follows:
The teachers interviewed responded that homework could be done at school. They responded that homework should be checked but not necessarily graded
The teachers interviewed responded that they kept an agenda book to keep track of homework. They responded that math homework was the easiest to modify while spelling homework is consistent for all students. They also responded that homework provides good reinforcement of earlier learning.
From the interviewees response there was the belief that homework contributes to higher academic achievement as homework increased academic achievement in students with learning disabilities since it provides good reinforcement to what is learnt in class.
The teachers responded that they do assign homework since it has great value in connecting home and school. The teachers also believe that homework lets parents know what their child is learning in school.
The teachers responded that they had professional development training specifically related to improving homework assignments in terms of the amount, type, length and other best practice aspects of homework.
Most of the respondents are unaware of school policy and that afterschool homework help is provided to students who need the help.
From the findings of this sturdy I was able to come up with a few implications of the perspective of teachers of students with learning disabilities towards homework. These implications have a direct bearing on the current use of homework and how or if teachers make effective use of homework as an assessment tool or how they align assignments to meet the needs of their learning disabled students.
What is the value? Teachers value homework based on this study. They value it so much that extra time in school is utilized as well as resources and funding to supply assistance to students to complete their homework. Homework is checked, but not graded and this is based on the fact that many teachers reported that they want a student to attempt the work and they don't know how much or how little assistance they are receiving at home. There is a disconnect between homework assignments and lessons which seems to frustrate the learning disabled students as well as teachers. There seems to be no pressure to change the current practice or conflicts with peers in relation to amount or type of homework assignments. Feedback is important and valued as well as the teachers are looking to see if students are comprehensive to the materials taught in class.
Regarding the use of homework assignments:
Teachers felt a need to use an agenda or assignment pad for teaching disabled students to be able to keep track of their assignments. Two subjects were prominent in homework assignments: math and spelling. It appeared the reason for this was that they were the most easy to modify ' decrease the number responsible for and it seemed that spelling was used because there was no time in the school day to fit it in. The use of homework assignments was to reinforce earlier learning and to help with memory. Homework was not assigned on new concepts or concepts that had not been taught yet, it was strictly to reinforce the daily activities of the lessons at hand. ' of the teachers reported that parents do not share their enthusiasm or value for homework and feel homework is contributing to a loss of interest in school so the use of homework assignments is important to a teacher but appears to be conflicting in the home environment.
Does homework promote higher achievement? According to most literature it does not. Learning disabled students have organizational and attention problems that also interfere with homework completion and further compound the completion rate. Deficits in base skills in learning disabled students also are a concern. A cluster theme appeared which identified that students not only have learning deficits but also have motor, organizational, hyperactivity, and attention concerns which further effect their completion rate of homework and homework does not appear to promote a higher achievement level since return is bad and students seem to not be able to understand it without assistance of teachers in extra programs.
Why do teachers assign homework?
The main reason is to primarily reinforce the classroom instruction. All agreed that no new material should be given to students to learn on their own. Teachers like to see the progress and feel parents/guardians in the home should also help to reinforce instruction. However, '-3/4 complete homework and that is only after assistance in after school programs, during lunch, recess, and mentoring periods. It was also found that students take more than an hour to complete their assignments and seem to struggle with them.
Regarding research question #5: Professional development: Only one theme emerged 11/12 had never received any professional development on developing and creating homework assignments. This is paramount as best practices need to be explored to support learning disabled students in the classroom. Differentiation, modifications, and accommodations all need to be learned and applied to effectively utilize homework to its intended purpose.
The last research question #6: concerned with school district's policy. 100% of participants were unaware of school policy. It was either not shared by their current administration or they did not know such a policy would even exist. 10/12 stated that it is not policy, but have an unwritten rule for after school support and other assistance for students for homework completion.
There appears to be a wide gap between teachers understanding of the difference of too much homework and the reality of disruptions and difficulties faced by parents of learning disabled students. The tradition continues. Teacher's homework practices do not correlate with related research. It is a simple common belief, although unsubstantiated in literature, that homework helps to excel the student.
Teachers in this study underestimated the difficulties that learning disabled students face and lack support and training to assist their students.The attitudes and beliefs of teachers had not been given sufficient consideration to determine if teachers are part of the root cause. There is a huge gap between actual practice and best practice. By using this phenomenological approach to elicit the values, attitudes, and beliefs of special education teachers about homework, these new revelations filled in a gap in the literature to explain why homework is a problem for learning disabled students and what teachers face on a day-to-day basis.
1. Investigate standard policies and procedures to see if they are compromising best practices in homework assignments and assessments.
2. Work together with regular educators and special educators to devise an acceptable degree of modifications or alternate assignments for teaching disabled students that are individualized where students can meet success instead of feeling frustration.
3. Training protocols should be put in place at both the college level and district levels for professional development to explore best practices by using scientifically based assessments and organizational tools to use with students.
4. Homework is once again with this study brought into question and debate and needs to be dramatically realigned and reassessed so we don't lose our learning disabled students. We don't want them dropping out of school. We don't want them being held back. We don't want them to become truant. We want them to be successful and turn their disability into their ability focusing on the positive attributes they each bring as individuals.
Most participants espoused positive and encouraging beliefs on the importance of homework yet few seemed willing to make substantial changes to accommodate the learning disabled student. This could be based on the tensions of inclusion, standards-focused policies, political pressure, or state assessment pressures. There is still a feeling that homework improves achievement and is part of the American education tradition. Teachers are struggling, though, with finding ways to work with their learning disabled students and create individualized, modified, practical homework for them.
There is a gap between the current practice and what best practice is and this has been uncovered through the themes using this phenomenological method of research by exploring the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of this twelve New York state teachers. Based on the findings of the study and the research conducted the study assisted with recognizing the hardships homework places on both families and teachers, thus questioning the value of this century-old tradition in the 21st century. The study also determined the need for custom-tailored, individualized assignments at the students' ability level, rather than at grade level. Other than the academic benefits of homework there are also non-academic benefits of homework. Homework helps instill responsibility for attempting the work and bringing assignments back to class. Though there are benefits the practice needs to be reformed in order to cater even for those with learning disabilities. The study also shed light on the fact that students with learning disabilities are finding it difficult to cope with the speed of the other able students. In this light therefore there should be improvement of this sector and teachers too should be trained more to acquire the knowledge of how to deal best with such circumstances of children with learning disabilities.
The research has shed light on the fact that students with learning disabilities are are finding it difficult to cope with the speed of the other able students. Obviously, that practice is one that needs to be reformed. There should be more professional development trainings and a constant review of policies and procedures should be established by districts to ensure that teachers are following proper protocol.'