Take the math homework survey

Catherine Johnson at Kitchen Table Math is conducting a survey: How many teachers collect and correct math homework these days?

On Eclectic Educator, Catherine recounts her frustration: Her son’s math book doesn’t provide answers to any problems. (Most math books now provide answers in the back for odd-numbered questions.) Since the homework isn’t corrected in class or by the teacher, students have no feedback on whether they’re solving problems correctly unless Mom or Dad figures out the answers. That takes time for the mathematically challenged parent.

In comments on KTM, Dan Greene of Exponential Curve details his Algebra 2 homework strategy: He gives out an answer key after students have done (or not done) their homework and discusses the questions that stumped the most students. His students’ parents don’t have the education to be math tutors at home.

Mindless Math Mutterings links to three comic videos about math confusion featuring Abbott and Costello, Ma and Pa Kettle and Lisa Simpson. She asked her children about the ’50s videos:

My fourth grade daughter said, “Hey mom, that’s just like Everyday Math! They’re using invented algorithms” as she giggled uncontrollably. My first grade son said, “Mom, those answers are wrong.”

He was right.

About Joanne


  1. My son’s math teacher assigns a lot of homework, he collects it, but never grades it.

    I don’t mind because my son likes math, likes the teacher, is earning a good grade and is learning a lot.

    My son gets feedback on the tests he takes and through class activities.

    Sure, it would be nice if the teacher corrected the homework, but there are just so many hours in a teacher’s day.

    Generally, a teacher’s time is better spent preparing lessons than correcting papers.

    If I had to choose between the two, I’d rather have my son continue to be enthralled by the teacher’s excellent lessons than to get back corrected homework every day.

    My son is having a great year, he has a great teacher, and the teacher doesn’t correct homework.

  2. Wayne Martin says:

    This is one of the many areas where software can enter the game and make a huge difference. If one Googles “math on-line software” and goodly number of sites which offer some soft of software based solutions appear in the results set. While none of these seemed to be what I was looking for as an example of what I would like to promote as a good solution to this problem, none-the-less, there are lots of partial solutions to be seen by visiting these sites and investigating the solutions that are on the table today.

    There is no reason that on-line tools couldn’t be developed that were aligned with the text chosen for a give math class that would provide the student with homework problems, solutions, instant grading, instant grade book updating and even emailing to parents about the students progress.

    These sorts of approaches lead to schools nationwide beginning to use common software, which provides a common view of topics like Math nationally.

    Practicing these skills will help students to better understand the basics. In the past, on-site (and unpaid) teacher time was a critical resource which was limited to 10-15 hours a week. Moving to on-line approaches to provide homework and other off-site opportunities reduces the amount of un-paid staff time and increases the quality and uniformity of the material students should be engaging, whether on-site or off-site (at home).

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Habit is hard to break – we still close school to free the students for harvest time.
    The $100 laptop is here and the schools are not ready for it. Shame.

  4. Prof210 says:

    I was speaking with an 8th grader last night. In her math class they review the homework the next day in class. She says this gives her the opportunity to understand what she may have missed. My impression is that this approach may be better than collecting and grading the homework.

  5. Correcting math problems is an essential part of the process for the student to do. There is no need for teachers to collect and correct all of the time. Answers are given in the book (odd numbered questions) or in class. The class goes over common mistakes. The student reworks each missed problem entirely from the beginning on a fresh sheet (not on the side of the original work). Students turn in corrected work so that each set is done 100% correctly.

    In private school, this is the way our son has done math. It has made all the difference especially at SAT time because the last time he did a problem of a given type, he did it correctly on his own.

    If your student is not doing this, find an after-school school such as Sylvan or Kumon.

  6. GradSchoolMom says:

    I wish they would just bring back classwork. If the students were sitting in class attempting to do the math problems, the teacher could see who understood and who was struggling and could offer some expert guidance to those who need it. I’m tired of doing the teachers’ jobs. Unfortunately, our high school math classes spend the entire 86 minutes going over the homework (that was graded by how much was complete) and then assign the new problems for homework so the student can again return home and have his/her parents try to figure out how to do it.