Jan 6, 2009

Lifestyle - 'Homework not critical to student’s achievement'

A new study has found that student-teacher interaction, and the quality of feedback students get, are critical to their academic success rather than homework, or even the school itself.

Auckland University professor John Hattie, who authored the study, said that homework, class size or school type did not help determine a child’s academic success.

In the analysis involving 50,000 previous studies and a total of 83 million students, number one was "self-reporting" when the student knows exactly how well they are doing. Student-teacher interaction at schools came out on top.

The strategy involving students taking turns to teach the class, and teachers doing post-mortems on their own lessons can help determine students’ achievements. While most parents think that class size, school type, homework and a student''s diet and exercise are a key, the new study suggests that all these could help improve the quality of the interaction in a classroom, but are not nearly as effective as the feedback.

Hattie recommends parents to fret less about which school their child attends, and worry about the quality of individual teachers, especially their ability to give useful feedback.

"Ask your kids constantly what feedback have you got from your teachers? Don''t ask `what have you learned?'' Encourage them to look for feedback," the NZPA quoted Hattie as saying. He also suggests that rewarding the teachers for their excellence by boosting their salaries would motivate them to work harder and foster an environment of trust in the classroom.

National''s new education minister, Anne Tolley, says that although rewarding teachers for excellence is a "tricky issue" it needs to be on the table, particularly as Hattie is close to defining what makes an excellent teacher. She said that the research will have a "profound influence" on how the new government approaches education.

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