Teacher homework practice in the primary classroom: a story told through focus groups and stimulated recall methods

Year: 2017

Author: Richardson, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Homework is an enculturated and historical aspect of the schooling discourse (Horsley & Walker, 2013). Homework is positioned within the current social, political and educational landscape in which classroom teachers are accountable for student learning outcomes. In Australian states and territories, the responsibility for developing homework policies has been promulgated by government bodies, through policies and guidelines for homework, to schools. As a result, the implementation of school-based homework policies has devolved to classroom teachers, who implement policy using a range of teacher homework practices.
'Teacher homework practices' can be defined as the compendium of specific strategies, activities or tasks which individual teachers use before, after and during teaching and learning experiences in the classroom with respect to homework. It refers to the specific nature of teacher pedagogy related to the development, implementation and monitoring of homework tasks. There is an absence of contemporary homework research that investigates this aspect of classroom teacher work.
This paper foregrounds the ways in which focus groups and stimulated recall methods were used to examine teacher homework practices in the primary classroom setting, using two guiding questions:
- What do primary classroom teachers say about homework?
- What do primary classroom teachers do specifically with respect to homework practice?
The use of focus groups is described, but in particular, this paper advances understandings about the ways in which stimulated recall methods can be used to capture teacher-in-action practice, in situ in the classroom as well as teachers' reflective responses to that practice. The processes and protocols specifically developed by the researcher for this particular research will be outlined.
This paper presents research findings that highlight the analogous relationship between the data generated through the focus groups and that captured through the use of stimulated recall research methods. Teacher perspectives are mirrored in teacher-in-action practices; teacher-in-action practices are mirrored in teacher perspectives.