This study analyzed whether the relationship between academic performance and homework follow-up practices depended on the type of homework follow-up practice used in class. We found that the five types of homework feedback were associated with student academic performance, despite the unbalanced number of teachers in each condition, and the low number of sessions (six sessions). The magnitude of the effects found was small, which may be due to the two previously mentioned limitations. Data from the ancillary analysis collected in the two focus groups run to identify the types of homework follow-up used by EFL teachers in class, and data from the post-research evaluation meeting run with the participating teachers contributed to the discussion of our findings.
Types of EFL teachers' homework follow-up practices and academic performance
As Model C (see Table 4) shows, and once the effect of the pretest was controlled for, the differences among the types of EFL teachers' homework follow-up practices on students' performance were statistically significant, as hypothesized. Moreover, considering the positive value of the coefficients shown in Table 4, the data indicate that students' performance improved from homework follow-up types 1–5 (see also Figure 2), and also that the differences between the five homework follow-up types are not of the same magnitude. In fact, after checking the error rate for comparison family using the FDR procedure, two homogeneous subsets of treatment means were identified. The first subset encompassed homework follow-up types 1 and 2, whereas the second accounted for homework follow-up types 3–5. As shown in Table 5, significant differences were found between adjusted treatments' means for both subsets (homework follow-up types 1 and 2 vs. homework follow-up types 3–5).
What are the commonalities and differences between these two subsets of homework follow-up types that could help explain findings? Homework follow-up types 1 and 2 did not yield differences in school performance. One possible explanation might be that neither of these types of homework follow-up provides specific information about the mistakes made by students; information which could help them improve their learning in a similar way to when EFL teachers provide feedback (Hattie and Timperley, 2007). Besides, as the control for homework completion is low for these two types of homework follow-up practices, students may not have put the appropriate effort to complete the homework. The following statement was shared by most of the teachers that participated in the focus group and may help explain this latter finding: “[in class] I only ask students if they have done their homework. I know that this strategy does not help them correct their mistakes, but if I don't do it, I suspect they will give up doing their homework …” (F2P3).
In homework follow-up type 2, EFL teachers only addressed difficulties mentioned by the students, so some mistakes may have not been addressed and checked by the EFL teachers. This type of practice does not provide feedback to students. As the following quotation from a participant in the focus group revealed: “At the beginning of the class, I specifically ask students if they have any questions about their homework. The truth is, students who struggle to learn seldom ask questions…I guess that they don't do their homework, or they copy the answers from peers during the break, and just asking questions does not help a lot…but they are 28 in class.” (F2P4).
The second group of homework follow-up practices includes types 3–5. Our data indicate that there were no statistically significant differences among these three types of homework follow-up (intra-group comparisons) at posttest performance (see Table 4). Under each of these three conditions (homework follow-up types 3–5) homework contents were checked by the teacher. In these three types of homework follow-up, students experienced opportunities to analyze EFL teachers' explanations and to check their mistakes, which may help explain our findings and those of previous studies (see Cardelle and Corno, 1981; Elawar and Corno, 1985).
According to Cooper's model (1989, 2001), homework follow-up type 5 may be considered the homework feedback practice, because when EFL teachers grade students' assignments and provide individual feedback, students' learning improve. This idea was mentioned by one of our participants: “I collect students' exercise books, not every day, but often enough. That is because I've learned that my students improve whenever I comment upon and grade their homework assignments. I wish I had time to do this regularly…That would be real feedback, that's for sure.” (F1P6).
When analyzing students' conceptions of feedback, Peterson and Irving (2008) concluded that students believe that having their reports graded is a “clearer and more honest” (p. 246) type of feedback. These authors also argued that good grades generate a tangible evidence of students' work for parents, which may also give way to another opportunity for feedback(e.g., praise) delivered by parents and peers (Núñez et al., 2015). It is likely that students see graded homework more worthwhile when compared to other types of homework follow-up practices (e.g., answering questions about homework). This idea supports studies which found a positive association between homework effort and achievement (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2006b, 2009b). Walberg et al. (1985) claimed that graded homework has a powerful effect on learning. However, Trautwein et al. (2009a) alerted that graded homework may have a negative impact whenever experienced as overcontrolling, as “…students may feel tempted to copy from high-achieving classmates to escape negative consequences” (p. 185). These findings (Trautwein et al., 2006b, 2009a,b), aligned with ours, suggest the need to analyze homework feedback in more depth. For example, there are several variables that were not considered in the current research (e.g., number of students per class, number of different grade levels teachers are teaching or number of different classes teachers teach, different level of students' expertise in class, type of content domain; but also career related issues such as frozen salaries, reduced retirement costs), which may help explain our results.
We also noticed that the effect of EFL teachers' homework follow-up practices on performance was affected by students' prior performance, confirming our second hypothesis, but not by the number of homework follow-up sessions (i.e., the number of homework follow-up sessions was only marginally non-significant as a secondary factor, not as the principal factor). A quotation from a teacher under the third condition may help illustrate this finding: “reflecting on my experience under condition 3 [checking homework orally], I can tell that students' prior knowledge was very important for explaining the variations in the efficacy of this strategy. Some of my students, for example, attend language schools and master vocabulary and grammar, but others clearly need extra help. For example, checking homework on the board so that students may copy the answers and study them at home would be very beneficial for many of my students” (M15).
The results of this preliminary study were obtained in a real learning environment and focused on homework follow-up practices commonly used by EFL teachers. We acknowledge the difficulties to set up and run a randomized-group design in a real learning environment (i.e., motivating teachers to participate, training teachers to follow the protocol, control the process). Still, we believe in the importance of collecting data on-task. Plus, we consider that our preliminary findings may help teachers and school administrators to organize school-based teachers' training and educational policies on homework. For example, studies conducted in several countries (e.g., Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel) reported that checking homework completion is the homework follow-up practice most often used by teachers to keep track of students' homework (e.g., Trautwein et al., 2009a; Kaur, 2011; Zhu and Leung, 2012), and in some cases the only homework follow-up practice used in class (e.g., see Kukliansky et al., 2014). However, this type of homework follow-up does not provide students with appropriate information on how they may improve their learning. Our data show that, when EFL teachers offer individual and specific information to help student progress (e.g., homework correction, graded homework), the impact on school performance is higher, even when this help is provided for only 6 weeks. This main finding, that should be further investigated, may help teachers' in class practices and contribute to foster students' behaviors toward homework and school achievement.
In sum, our findings indicate that the time and effort teachers devote assessing, presenting, and discussing homework with students is worth the effort. In fact, students consider limited feedback an impediment to homework completion, and recognize teacher's feedback as a homework completion facilitator (Bang, 2011).
During the focus group interviews, and consistent with findings by Rosário et al. (2015), several EFL teachers stressed that, despite their positive belief about the efficacy of delivering feedback to students, they do not find the necessary time to provide feedback in class (e.g., comment on homework and grading homework). This is due to, among other reasons, the long list of contents to cover in class and the large number of students per class. Pelletier et al.'s (2002) show that the major constraint perceived by teachers in their job is related to the pressure to follow the school curriculum. Data from the focus group helped understand our findings, and highlights the need for school administrators to become aware of the educational constraints faced daily by EFL teachers at school and to find alternatives to support the use of in class homework follow-up practices. Thus, we believe that teachers, directly, and students, indirectly, would benefit from teacher training on effective homework follow-up practices with a focus on, for example, how to manage the extensive curriculum and time, and learning about different homework follow-up practices, mainly feedback. Some authors (e.g., Elawar and Corno, 1985; Epstein and Van Voorhis, 2012; Núñez et al., 2014; Rosário et al., 2015) have warned about the importance of organizing school-based teacher training with an emphasis on homework (i.e., purposes of homework, homework feedback type, amount of homework assigned, schools homework policies, and written homework feedback practices). With the focus group interviews we learned that several EFL teachers did not differentiate feedback from other homework follow-up practices, such as checking homework completion (e.g., see F2P7 statement, Table 1). EFL teachers termed all the homework follow-up practices used in class as feedback, despite the fact that some of these practices did not deliver useful information to improve the quality of students' homework and promote progress. These data suggest a need to foster opportunities for teachers to reflect upon their in-class instructional practices (e.g., type and purposes of the homework assigned, number and type of questions asked in class) and its impact on the quality of the learning process. For example, school-based teacher training focusing on discussing the various types of homework follow-up practices and their impact on homework quality and academic achievement would enhance teachers' practice and contribute to improve their approaches to teaching (Rosário et al., 2013).
Limitations of the study and future research
This study is a preliminary examination of the relationship between five types of EFL teachers' homework follow-up practices and performance in the EFL class. Therefore, some limitations must be addressed as they may play a role in our findings. First, participating EFL teachers were assigned to one and only one of five homework follow-up conditions, but 19 of them were excluded for not adhering to the protocol. As a result, the number of EFL teachers under each condition was unbalanced, especially in the case of homework follow-up condition number 5. This fact should be considered when analyzing conclusions.
Several reasons may explain why 19 EFL teachers were excluded from our research protocol (i.e., three were laid off, six did not report the work done correctly or submitted the data requested, and ten did not followed the protocol closely). Nevertheless, during the post-research evaluation meeting the EFL teachers addressed this topic which helped understand their motives for not adhering to the protocol. For example: “I'm sorry for abandoning your research, but I couldn't collect and grade homework every week. I have 30 students in class, as you know, and it was impossible for me to spend so many hours grading.” (M7). Our findings suggest that teachers' attitudes toward homework follow-up practices are important, as well as the need to set educational environments that may facilitate their use in class.
We acknowledged the difficulty of carrying out experimental studies in authentic teaching and learning environments. Nevertheless, we decided to address the call by Trautwein et al. (2006b), and investigate teachers' homework practices as ecologically valid as possible in the natural learning environment of teachers and students.
Future studies should find a way to combine an optimal variable control model and an authentic learning environment.
Second, a mixed type of homework follow-up practices (e.g., combining homework control and checking homework on the board) was not considered in the current study as an additional level of the independent variable. In fact, some of the excluded EFL teachers highlighted the benefits of combining various homework follow-up practices, as one EFL teacher remarked: “I was “assigned” condition 5 [collecting and grading homework], but grading and noting homework every week is too demanding, as I have five more sixth grade classes to teach. So, although I am certain that giving individualized feedback is better for my students, I couldn't do it for the six homework assignments as required. In some sessions I checked homework orally.” (M24). Thus, future studies should consider the possibility of analyzing the impact of different combinations of types of homework follow-up practices. Our research focused on sixth grade EFL teachers only. To our knowledge, there are no studies examining the impact of homework follow-up practices in different education levels, but it is plausible that the type and intensity of the homework-follow up practices used by teachers may vary from one educational level to another. Hence, it would be interesting to examine whether our findings may be replicated in other grade levels, or in different subjects. Furthermore, it would be beneficial to conduct this study in other countries in order to explore whether the follow-up practices identified by EFL Portuguese teachers match those found in other teaching and learning cultures.
Third, the fact that in our study the differences found were small suggests the importance of examining the type of homework follow-up used and students' interpretation of teachers' practice. Future studies may analyze the hypothesis that students' behavior toward teacher homework follow-up practices (e.g., how students perceive their teachers' homework follow-up practices; what students do with the homework feedback information given by teachers) mediates the effect of homework on student learning and performance. In fact, the way students benefit from their teachers' homework follow-up practice may help explain the impact of these practices on students' homework performance and academic achievement. Future studies may also consider conducting more large-scale studies (i.e., with optimal sample sizes) using multilevel designs aimed at analyzing how student variables (e.g., cognitive, motivational, and affective) mediate the relationship between teacher homework follow-up type and students' learning and academic performance.
Finally, future research could also consider conducting qualitative research to analyze teachers' conceptions of homework follow-up practices, mainly feedback (Cunha et al., 2015). This information may be very useful to improving homework feedback measures in future quantitative studies. Investigating teachers' conceptions of homework follow-up practices may help identify other homework feedback practices implemented in authentic learning environments. It may also help understand the reasons why teachers use specific types of homework feedback, and explore the constraints daily faced in class when giving homework feedback. As one teacher in the focus group claimed: “Unfortunately, I don't have time to collect and grade homework, because I have too many students and the content that I have to cover each term is vast. So I just check whether all students completed their homework” (F2P1).
Find The Model That Works For You: 12 Types Of Blended Learning
by TeachThought Staff
Blended Learning is not so much an innovation as it is a natural by-product of the digital domain creeping into physical spaces.
Broadly speaking, blended learning just means a mix of learning online and face-to-face, which means it’s likely your students are already doing some form of blended learning, and have for years.
As digital and social media become more and more prevalent in the life of learners, it was only a matter of time before learning became ‘blended’ by necessity.
Finding The Model That Works For Your School, Classroom, And Students
In The Definition Of Blended Learning, we offered that ‘blended learning is a model that combines online and face-to-face learning spaces and experiences.’ Below, we identify and describe 12 different types of blended learning.
Obviously, there aren’t just 12. It could be argued that there are thousands of types of blended learning varying by content, scale, technology, learning spaces, etc.
The purpose of this post is to A) Explain the most commonly referred to types of blended learning as most educators know them and B) Help you think more about blended learning as a flexible concept that ideally empowers both teachers and students to improve learning outcomes so that you can C) Identify and adapt a blended learning model that’s right for your school, classroom, and students.
6 Types Of Blended Learning You’ve Probably Heard Of
1. Station Rotation Blended Learning
Station-Rotation blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station. This model is most common in elementary schools because teachers are already familiar rotating in “centers” or stations.”
Similar to: Lab Rotation blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the fixed schedule that guides the ‘blending’
2. Lab Rotation Blended Learning
‘The Lab Rotation’ model of blended learning, similar to “Station Rotation,’ works by “allow(ing) students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule…in a dedicated computer lab allow(ing) for flexible scheduling arrangements with teachers…enabl(ing) schools to make use of existing computer labs.”
Similar to: Station Rotation blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the use school computer labs in new ways
3. Remote Blended Learning(also referred to as Enriched Virtual)
In Enriched Virtual blended learning, the student’s focus is on completing online coursework while only meeting with the teacher intermittently/as-needed.
This approach differs from the Flipped Classroom model in the balance of online to face-to-face instructional time. In an Enriched Virtual blended learning model, students wouldn’t see/work with/learning from a teacher on a daily basis face-to-face but would in a ‘flipped’ setting.
Similar to: A mix of Self-Directed, Flex blended learning, Flipped Classroom
Primarily characterized by: students completely coursework remotely and independently.
4. Flex Blended Learning
The ‘Flex’ is included in types of Blended Learning and its model is one in which… “a course or subject in which online learning is the backbone of student learning, even if it directs students to offline activities at times.
Students move on an individually customized, ﬂuid schedule among learning modalities. The teacher of record is on-site, and students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments. The teacher of record or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring.”
Similar to: Remote blended learning, Inside-Out blended learning
Primarily characterized by: its versatility to meet the needs of a variety of formal and informal learning processes (schools, organizations, homeschooling, etc.)
5. The ‘Flipped Classroom’ Blended Learning
Perhaps the most widely known version of blended learning, a ‘Flipped Classroom’ is one where students are introduced to content at home, and practice working through it at school supported by a teacher and/or peers. In this way, traditional roles for each space are ‘flipped.’
Similar to: Remote blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the retention of traditional learning forms in new contexts (i.e., studying at school and learning at home)
6. Individual Rotation Blended Learning
The Individual Rotation model allows students to rotate through stations, but on individual schedules set by a teacher or software algorithm. Unlike other rotation models, students do not necessarily rotate to every station; they rotate only to the activities scheduled on their playlists.”
Similar to: Mastery-Based blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the personalization of student learning as determined by individual schedules that have the chance to better meet the needs of each student
6 Types Of Blended Learning You Probably Haven’t Heard Of
7. Project-Based Blended Learning
Blended Project-Based Learning is a model in which the student uses both online learning—either in the form of courses or self-directed access—and face-to-face instruction and collaboration to design, iterate, and publish project-based learning assignments, products, and related artifacts.
Similar to: Self-Directed blended learning, Outside-In blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the use of online resources to support project-based learning
8. Self-Directed Blended Learning
In Self-Directed blended learning, students use a combination of online and face-to-face learning to guide their own personalzed inquiry, achieve formal learning goals, connect with mentors physically and digitally, etc. As the learning is self-directed, the roles of ‘online learning’ and physical teachers change, and there are no formal online courses to complete.
In Self-Directed blended learning, one challenge for teachers is to be able to judge the and (somehow) success of the learning experience without de-authenticating it.
For students, the challenge is to seek out models of products, processes, and potential that can provide the kind of spark that can sustain learning while being self-aware enough to know what’s working and why, and to make adjustments accordingly. Some students need very little to soar, while others need support through very clear pathways that they can guide themselves through with autonomy and self-criticism.
Similar to: Inside-Out blending learning, Project-Based blended learning
Primarily characterized by: the exchange of traditional academic work for student-centered inquiry
9. Inside-Out Blended Learning
In Inside-Out blended learning, experiences are planned to ‘finish’ or ‘end up’ beyond the physical classroom, but still require and benefit from the unique advantages of both physical and digital spaces.
In both the Outside-In and Inside-Out models, the nature of the ‘online learning’ is less critical than the focus on platforms, spaces, people, and opportunity beyond the school walls. (The ‘online’ components could be self-directed inquiry and/or formal eLearning courses and curriculum.)
Because the learning pattern is ‘outward,’ Project-Based blended learning is an excellent example of the Inside-Out model.
As with Outside-In blended learning, there is a need for expert guidance, learning feedback, content teaching, and psychological and moral support from face-to-face interactions on a daily basis.
Well-designed, each of the three ‘areas’ plays to its strengths and complements the other two.
Similar to: Outside-In blended learning, Blended Project-Based Learning
Primarily characterized by: student movement between digital and physical spaces
10. Outside-In Blended Learning
In Outside-In blended learning, experiences are planned to ‘start’ in the non-academic physical and digital environments students use on a daily basis, but finish inside a classroom.
This could mean traditional letter grades and assessments forms, or less traditional teaching and learning that simply uses the classroom as a ‘closed-circuit’ publishing ‘platform’—a safe space to share, be creative, collaborate, and give and receive feedback that grows student work.
Well-designed, each of the three ‘areas’ plays to its strengths and complements the other two. While the pattern is Outside-In, unlike Remote blended learning there is still a need for guidance, teaching, and support from face-to-face interactions on a daily basis.
Similar to: Inside-Out blended learning
Primarily characterized by: student movement between digital and physical spaces; the potential authenticity of student work
11. Supplemental Blended Learning
In this model, students complete either entirely online work to supplement their day-to-day face-to-face learning, or entirely face-to-face learning experiences to supplement the learning gained in online courses and activities.
The big idea here is supplementing—critical learning objectives are met entirely in one space while the ‘opposite’ space provides the student with specific supplementing experiences that the other did not or could not provide.
12. Mastery-Based Blended Learning
Students rotate between online and face-to-face learning (activities, assessments, projects, etc.) based on the completion mastery-based learning objectives.
Assessment design is crucial in any mastery-based learning experience; the ability to use face-to-face and digital assessment tools is either powerful or ‘complicated’ depending on the mindset of the learning designer.
*Sources include TeachThought, the Christensen Institute and blendedlearning.org