Primary classroom teacher homework practices from a sociocultural context

Year: 2013

Author: Richardson, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Homework and homework practices are a contested issue in the current educational landscape.  One of the specific issues is teacher homework practices which a number of Australian state educational authorities have attempted to address through the introduction of guidelines and policy for homework and homework implementation in classrooms.
However there is limited research in the Australian primary schooling context into the ways in which teacher homework practices support, in particular,  a sociocultural approach to learning which can be used to enculturate students into academic and discipline specific practices. In this way, the purpose of homework can be to encourage students to engage in, and help students to develop academic work habits associated with independent, self-directed and self-regulated learning.
This paper reports on research, using focus groups, to examine primary classroom teacher homework practices.  Five key sociocultural themes were used, namely: enculturated practices of homework; purpose for homework; scaffolded learning; incorporation of ZAD or ZPD into homework tasks; and self-regulated and self-directed learning skills.
Preliminary research findings suggest that primary classroom teacher homework practices are mainly guided by the classroom teacher identified purposes for homework which in turn dictate the nature and type of homework tasks set for students. It was also found that there was limited application of sociocultural approaches to learning.
The findings from this research are intended to identify the ways in which sociocultural approach to learning are embedded within teacher homework practices and to inform the discussion concerning homework, homework practices and student learning.