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Should Students Get Less Homework

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Persuasive Essay

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Project 1: Believing and Doubting sources

(aka rhetorical analysis; close reading; academic source analysis)

From our syllabus:

——

Project 1

In this two-part project, students will develop short, formal, persuasive essays demonstrating:

1. A perspective that believes (supports, agrees with, views favorably) a particular text. This essay should include rhetorical analysis of one, two, or all three of the rhetorical appeals (Ede 123) from our textbook: Logos (appeal to reason or logic); Pathos (appeal to emotion); Ethos (appeal to reputation or credibility).

2. A stance that doubts the same text, questions and criticizes its sources, logic, claims, and conclusions. As above this essay should also include rhetorical analysis.

Length: about 2 pages (500 words) for each part about 4 pages (1000 words) total.

Like all projects in this class, this page requirement does not include the mandatory Works Cited page at the end of the document (insert Page Break to put it on its own page).

——

Additional project requirements:

— Thesis statement should be clear and persuasive, not merely informative or historical. It should also appear on the first page, if not the first paragraph.

— Length: 5 pages (this includes at least 2 pages double-spaced of actual writing; other pages may be images or multimedia, Works Cited, etc.)

–Printed draft due Wed. Sept. 5; Second, electronic draft due (post to Blackboard in .docx format only) Fri. Sept. 7, 2018.

— It is not acceptable to claim, "people say / people think" without source evidence to support these claims. (Without providing concrete examples of at least 1-2 such "people.")

— Works Cited page: MLA format. Separate page from essay body. Using more than one source total is encouraged but not required. Additional sources should be appropriate for university and global audiences.

— Other source rules: Sources must have the basic “who, what, when, where” details (author, date, etc.). For example, do not cite Wikipedia or your friend’s social media account.

Useful definitions

Some words used in English 101 and 105 have very different meanings for our purposes, compared to their real-world usage.

Rhetoric: Formal written argument, persuasion

Rhetorical: Using one or more of the three rhetorical appeals (logic, emotion, reputation)

Rhetorical analysis: Describing in writing, with detailed quotations, paraphrases, and summaries of the text, one or more rhetorical appeals that the author uses. This analysis may also include any logical fallacies you may find.

Logos: Appeal to reason or logic. (For ex. in math, A implies B.)

Pathos: Appeal to emotion. (For ex., advertisements for fast-food, cars/trucks, Geico…)

Ethos: Appeal to credibility, reputation, or credentials. (Ex., “Harvard professor of African-American Literature Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has stated that…”)

Logical fallacy: An error, flaw, oversight, weakness, or mistaken belief in a source that makes the author’s argument misleading, unsound, or invalid. For example, Ad Hominem, Red Herring, Slippery Slope, Cherry-Picking.

Source: A text, usually written, that for the purposes of English 101/105 has at least 5-10 pages, a credible and individual author, a well-known and peer-reviewed publisher, and a specific publication date. These texts should also have their own Works Cited or References page. They are usually 10-20 pages and either published in academic journals or chapters from a book.

Peer-reviewed*: A blind and competitive system of review by experts to determine which few articles are published in a particular journal each year or quarter. For example, JAMA or the Journal of the American Medical Association, gets hundreds of applications yearly of articles to publish. A review board sends the best articles to other medical professionals without the author’s name, to review it and critique it. After that, the top articles are chosen and published.

*Note this -ed ending and adjective form of the word, peer-reviewed, which for our purposes in describing university-level sources is different than the noun form of the word (peer review), that English 101 and 105 colleagues participate in throughout our semester class.

Works Cited

note, WC page title should

be centered and underlined

and on its own page

Craig, Iona. “Death in Al Ghayil.” The Intercept. March 9, 2017. https://theintercept.com

Ede, Lisa. The Academic Writer. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martin's, 2017. Print.

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Homework: is it worth the hassle?

Parents and educators question the value of setting assignments for students. But what does the neuroscience say?

Helen Silvester

Neuroscientist and head of science at Mentone Girls' Grammar in Melbourne, Australia

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Stressed student







Studies have linked homework to anxiety and stress.
Photograph: Alamy

Like all teachers, I’ve spent many hours correcting homework. Yet there’s a debate over whether we should be setting it at all.

I teach both primary and secondary, and regularly find myself drawn into the argument on the reasoning behind it – parents, and sometimes colleagues, question its validity. Parent-teacher interviews can become consumed by how much trouble students have completing assignments. All of which has led me to question the neuroscience behind setting homework. Is it worth it?

‘My son works until midnight’: parents around the world on homework


Read more

Increasingly, there’s a divide between those who support the need for homework and those who suggest the time would be better spent with family and developing relationships. The anxiety related to homework is frequently reviewed.

A survey of high-performing high schools by the Stanford Graduate School of Education, for example, found that 56% of students considered homework a primary source of stress. These same students reported that the demands of homework caused sleep deprivation and other health problems, as well as less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits.

Working memory?

When students learn in the classroom, they are using their short-term or working memory. This information is continually updated during the class. On leaving the classroom, the information in the working memory is replaced by the topic in the next class.

Adults experience a similar reaction when they walk into a new room and forget why they are there. The new set of sensory information – lighting, odours, temperature – enters their working memory and any pre-existing information is displaced. It’s only when the person returns to the same environment that they remember the key information.

But education is about more than memorising facts. Students need to access the information in ways that are relevant to their world, and to transfer knowledge to new situations.

Many of us will have struggled to remember someone’s name when we meet them in an unexpected environment (a workmate at the gym, maybe), and we are more likely to remember them again once we’ve seen them multiple times in different places. Similarly, students must practise their skills in different environments.

Revising the key skills learned in the classroom during homework increases the likelihood of a student remembering and being able to use those skills in a variety of situations in the future, contributing to their overall education.

The link between homework and educational achievement is supported by research: a meta-analysis of studies between 1987 and 2003 found that: “With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant.”

The right type of work

The homework debate is often split along the lines of primary school compared with secondary school. Education researcher Professor John Hattie, who has ranked various influences on student learning and achievement, found that homework in primary schools has a negligible effect (most homework set has little to no impact on a student’s overall learning). However, it makes a bigger difference in secondary schools.

His explanation is that students in secondary schools are often given tasks that reinforce key skills learned in the classroom that day, whereas primary students may be asked to complete separate assignments. “The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects; the best thing you can do is reinforce something you’ve already learned,” he told the BBC in 2014.

The science of homework: tips to engage students’ brains


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So homework can be effective when it’s the right type of homework. In my own practice, the primary students I teach will often be asked to find real-life examples of the concept taught instead of traditional homework tasks, while homework for secondary students consolidates the key concepts covered in the classroom. For secondary in particular, I find a general set of rules useful:

  • Set work that’s relevant. This includes elaborating on information addressed in the class or opportunities for students to explore the key concept in areas of their own interest.
  • Make sure students can complete the homework. Pitch it to a student’s age and skills – anxiety will only limit their cognitive abilities in that topic. A high chance of success will increase the reward stimulation in the brain.
  • Get parents involved, without the homework being a point of conflict with students. Make it a sharing of information, rather than a battle.
  • Check the homework with the students afterwards. This offers a chance to review the key concepts and allow the working memory to become part of the long-term memory.

While there is no data on the effectiveness of homework in different subjects, these general rules could be applied equally to languages, mathematics or humanities. And by setting the right type of homework, you’ll help to reinforce key concepts in a new environment, allowing the information you teach to be used in a variety of contexts in the future.

Helen Silvester is a writer for npj Science of Learning Community

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