Vol. 3, Issue 5 (2018)
Optimizing homework for high-aptitude students
Author(s): Kabir Bahl, Kunal Bahl, John Leddo
Abstract: Previous research on homework has produced mixed results regarding its effectiveness in boosting student performance. Bhandarkar, Leddo and Banerjee (2016) found that giving average-aptitude students homework produced much larger increases in performance than giving the same homework assignment to high-aptitude students. Standard homework assignments may offer little more than repetition of what high-aptitude students already know, thereby doing little to boost performance. The present study tested the hypothesis that giving high-aptitude students more challenging homework assignments would lead to higher performance than giving them standard homework. This hypothesis was tested with 17 high-aptitude high school students who were about to take a college level calculus course. They were taught how to solve problems involving related rates, a topic often applied to real world problems. After the lesson, nine were given a standard homework assignment and eight were given a more challenging homework assignment. After doing the assignment and having it reviewed by the instructor, students were given a post-test. Results showed that students receiving the more challenging homework assignment scored significantly higher than those receiving the standard homework assignment. Results suggest that high-aptitude students may advance more quickly through their courses and potentially be able to achieve higher levels of learning if challenged more with their homework assignments. Implementing this in a school setting may require a departure from the standard practice of giving all students the same assignments.