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What is the Difference Between Homework and Assignment

The main difference between homework and assignment is that homework is a task or a work assigned to a student generally by a teacher to be completed outside the classroom setting, most probably at home, while an assignment is a task assigned to a student to be completed within the course of a particular study.

Assignments and homework vary from one another due to a wide range of distinctive elements such as the objective or the purpose of the task, main functions, and the benefits received.

Key Areas Covered

1.  What is Homework     – Definition, Features 2.  What is Assignment      – Definition, Features 3.  Similarities Between Homework and Assignment      – Outline of Common Characteristics 4.  Difference Between Homework and Assignment     – Comparison of Key Differences

Difference Between Homework and Assignment - Comparison Summary

What is Homework

Homework refers to the tasks assigned to the students by the schoolteachers.  They expect students to carry out the task during non-school hours. Teachers often give homework to complete at home in order to make their students practice the learning material already taught. Their aim is to reinforce learning and facilitate the mastery of specific competencies and skills .

Sometimes, a student might get preparation assignments as homework. The purpose of such homework is to introduce the student to the study material that the teacher will present in future lessons. Furthermore, it would help students to obtain the maximum benefit once the new material is being taught in class.

What is Homework

On the other hand, homework sometimes facilitates the transfer of previously acquired skills to new situations. For example, the students might learn in class about factors that led to World war I. Then, as homework, the teacher would ask the students to find out the factors that led to World war II. Here, the teacher gives an integration homework, which requires the student to apply separately learned skills to create a single product, such as science projects, newspaper reports, or creative writing.

In addition, homework can be used to build up proper communication between parents and children, as a constructive method of punishment and also to make the parents aware of what is happening in school.

What is Assignment

If you are a student, you might think that it is not your responsibility to learn by yourself; rather, it is the job of the teacher to teach you. But, a teacher cannot teach every little thing in a particular unit or subject to the students.

Such a spoon-feeding method of imparting knowledge can negatively influence the learning capabilities and the academic career of a student. Especially in academic establishments such as colleges or universities, teachers expect the students do some research to grasp the untaught concepts and to explore the subject on their own instead of teaching everything to the students using a lecture method.

Homework vs Assignment

The actual purpose of giving assignments is to enhance the learning skills of the students.  This enables the students to occupy their brains more and more. Academic assignments improve the creativity of the students as they naturally acquire and learn a lot when they read or practice a subject or art on their own.  Therefore, the main reason for giving assignments is to provide the student with a platform to practice and explore knowledge about a subject on their own.

Similarities Between Homework and Assignment

  • Both aim at enhancing the learning skills of the students.
  • Teachers or professors assign them to the students.
  • It is possible to grade both homework and assignments.

Difference Between Homework and Assignment

Homework is a work or a task assigned to a student by a teacher to be completed during a non-school hour, whereas an assignment is a task assigned to a student in the course of study. In contrast to homework, an assignment usually provides the student with a clue about the objectives of the assigned task.

The main purpose of an assignment is to help a student understand the studying process well. In contrast,  homework basically helps the student to improve his/her skills.

Main Function

An assignment can be used to figure out what should be taught, while homework is basically used to identify the challenges encountered by students on a particular topic. 

Some advantages of assignments include supporting students to revise a particular topic and boosting the students’ confidence, whereas homework becomes helpful in understanding a specific topic and when preparing for an exam.

In brief, the main difference between homework and assignment is that homework is assigned to be completed outside the classroom while assignments are assigned to be completed within the course of a particular study. Nonetheless, no matter how beneficial they can be, for most students, homework and assignments are a massive source of unhappiness and irritation.

1. Levy, Sandra. “ Why Homework Is Bad: Stress and Consequences .” Healthline , Healthline Media.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that he or she will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove her point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, he or she still has to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and she already knows everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality she or he expects.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Making Homework Work

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  • Do students understand the purpose and value of the assignment? When students perceive homework as busy work, meaningless, or of little value to the teacher, they are less likely to complete it and may become less interested in learning and in school in general. Educators can increase engagement by clarifying the purpose of the work and allowing students to choose which problems to do or which topics to research. Teachers can also allow students to stop when they believe they understand the concept.
  • Will all students be able to do the task independently? It is challenging to design homework assignments that meet every child's academic and developmental needs, but students are more likely to disengage when an assignment feels either too hard or too easy. Teachers can use a variety of formative assessment strategies, such as student check-ins and daily exit tickets to strive for the "just-right" challenge for each student and ensure that homework can be done without help from parents or tutors-especially because not all students have the resources to get outside help.
  • Is this assignment better done in class versus as homework? Some activities can't be done effectively or efficiently in class or during synchronous online learning, such as reading a book chapter to prepare for class discussion or interviewing a community member for an oral history project. These tasks might be better to assign as homework or during asynchronous learning. Skill practice, such as learning when and how to apply algorithms in math or parsing difficult text passages, might be more effective during class, where teachers can clarify misunderstandings and provide feedback and coaching.
  • How much time should this assignment take? If you are going to assign homework, consider how much time the assignment should take and recommend an appropriate cut-off time for students without penalty. Suggested time limits should be based on the purpose of the assignment as well as student age and ability. Having students start the assignment in class or during synchronous learning will help you estimate how long it may take different students to do and if they need help. Remember that students may have homework from several classes each night, so try to coordinate large assignments and assessments with other teachers when possible and offer lenient late policies or "homework passes" when workload or home obligations are heavy.
  • What kind of feedback should I provide on the homework? Grading homework is tricky. Some students who don't turn it in or do it incorrectly may have organizational issues or other reasons beyond their control, and others may have relied on outside help to correct the work. If you do choose to grade the homework, make sure you provide actionable and timely feedback on assignments and offer students opportunities to revise and resubmit. Aim to return graded assignments prior to an upcoming assessment so students can learn from their mistakes, and make sure your comments are specific enough for students to make corrections. For example, instead of just marking something as incorrect, add a comment asking a student to show their work, or explain that they need to add more supporting evidence to a paragraph to strengthen their claim.

Cooper, H. (1989). Synthesis of research on homework. Educational Leadership , 47 (3), 85–91.

Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2013). Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading . Centre for Longitudinal Studies. Retrieved from

what is a commonplace homework assignment that you receive

Denise Pope, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. She is the author of several books including, “Doing School”: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students (Yale University Press, 2001), and co-author of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids (Jossey-Bass, 2015). Dr. Pope lectures nationally on parenting techniques and pedagogical strategies to increase student health, engagement with learning, and integrity.

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How to use homework to support student success.

  • by: Sandra Chafouleas
  • January 13, 2022
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Editor’s Note: Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Sandra Chafouleas shares insights on supporting students’ homework during the pandemic in the following piece, which originally appeared  in Psychology Today , where she publishes a blog.

COVID has brought many changes in education. What does it mean for homework?

School assignments that a student is expected to do outside of the regular school day—that’s homework. The general guideline is 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level beginning after kindergarten. This amounts to just a few minutes for younger elementary students to up to 2 hours for high school students.

The guidance seems straightforward enough, so why is homework such a controversial topic? School disruptions, including extended periods of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, have magnified the controversies yet also have provided an opportunity to rethink the purpose and value of homework.

Debates about the value of homework center around two primary issues: amount and inequity.

First, the amount of assigned homework may be much more than the recommended guidelines. Families report their children are stressed out over the time spent doing homework. Too much homework can challenge well-being given the restricted time available for sleep, exercise, and social connection. In a 2015 study , for example, parents reported their early elementary children received almost three times the recommended guidelines. In high school, researchers found an average of three hours of homework per night for students living in economically privileged communities.

“ Debates about the value of homework center around two primary issues: amount and inequity.”

Second, homework can perpetuate inequities. Students attending school in less economically privileged communities may receive little to no homework, or have difficulty completing it due to limited access to needed technology. This can translate into fewer opportunities to learn and may contribute to gaps in achievement.

There isn’t a ton of research on the effects of homework, and available studies certainly do not provide a simple answer. For example, a 2006 synthesis of studies suggested a positive influence between homework completion and academic achievement for middle and high school students. Supporters also point out that homework offers additional opportunities to engage in learning and that it can foster independent learning habits such as planning and a sense of responsibility. A more recent study involving 13-year-old students in Spain found higher test scores for those who were regularly assigned homework in math and science, with an optimal time around one hour—which is roughly aligned with recommendations. However, the researchers noted that ability to independently do the work, student effort, and prior achievement were more important contributors than time spent.

Opponents of homework maintain that the academic benefit does not outweigh the toll on well-being. Researchers have observed student stress, physical health problems, and lack of life balance, especially when the time spent goes over the recommended guidelines. In a survey of adolescents , over half reported the amount and type of homework they received to be a primary source of stress in their lives. In addition, vast differences exist in access and availability of supports, such as internet connection, adult assistance, or even a place to call home, as 1.5 million children experience homelessness in the United States

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-energized discussion about homework practices, with the goal to advance recommendations about how, when, and with whom it can be best used. Here’s a summary of key strategies:

Strategies for Educators

Make sure the tasks are meaningful and matched..

First, the motto “ quality over quantity ” can guide decisions about homework. Homework is not busy-work, and instead should get students excited about learning. Emphasize activities that facilitate choice and interest to extend learning, like choose your own reading adventure or math games. Second, each student should be able to complete homework independently with success. Think about Goldilocks: To be effective, assignments should be just right for each learner. One example of how do this efficiently is through online learning platforms that can efficiently adjust to skill level and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Ensure access to resources for task completion.

One step toward equity is to ensure access to necessary resources such as time, space, and materials. Teach students about preparing for homework success, allocating classroom time to model and practice good study habits such as setting up their physical environment, time management, and chunking tasks. Engage in conversations with students and families to problem-solve challenges When needed, connect students with homework supports available through after-school clubs, other community supports, or even within a dedicated block during the school day.

Be open to revisiting homework policies and practices.

The days of penalizing students for not completing homework should be long gone. Homework is a tool for practicing content and learning self-management. With that in mind, provide opportunities for students to communicate needs, and respond by revising assignments or allowing them to turn in on alternative dates. Engage in adult professional learning about high-quality homework , from value (Should I assign this task?) to evaluation (How should this be graded? Did that homework assignment result in expected outcomes?). Monitor how things are going by looking at completion rates and by asking students for their feedback. Be willing to adapt the homework schedule or expectations based on what is learned.

Strategies for Families

Understand how to be a good helper..

When designed appropriately, students should be able to complete homework with independence. Limit homework wars by working to be a good helper. Hovering, micromanaging, or doing homework for them may be easiest in the moment but does not help build their independence. Be a good helper by asking guiding questions, providing hints, or checking for understanding. Focus your assistance on setting up structures for homework success, like space and time.

Use homework as a tool for communication.

Use homework as a vehicle to foster family-school communication. Families can use homework as an opportunity to open conversations about specific assignments or classes, peer relationships, or even sleep quality that may be impacting student success. For younger students, using a daily or weekly home-school notebook or planner can be one way to share information. For older students, help them practice communicating their needs and provide support as needed.

Make sure to balance wellness.

Like adults, children need a healthy work-life balance. Positive social connection and engagement in pleasurable activities are important core principles to foster well-being . Monitor the load of homework and other structured activities to make sure there is time in the daily routine for play. Play can mean different things to different children: getting outside, reading for pleasure, and yes, even gaming. Just try to ensure that activities include a mix of health-focused activities such as physical movement or mindfulness downtime.


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Homework vs Assignments: Key Differences and How to Effectively Manage Them

homework vs assignment

Homework is tasks or exercises assigned to students to complete outside of class. It is often used to reinforce or practice the material covered in class and may be graded or ungraded.

Assignments , on the other hand, are tasks or exercises given as part of a class or course. They are typically completed in class or under the instructor’s guidance and usually contribute to a student’s overall course grade.

Table of Contents

Purpose of homework and assignments

The purpose of homework is to allow students to practice and reinforce the material covered in class. It helps students to solidify their understanding of the material and prepares them for exams and other assessments.

Assignments, on the other hand, are used to evaluate a student’s understanding of the material and ability to apply it in a real-world setting.

Importance of understanding the difference between homework and assignments

Understanding the difference between homework and assignments is important because it can help students to manage their time more effectively and prioritize their tasks.

It can also help them understand the purpose of the tasks they are being assigned, increasing their motivation to complete them.

Differences between homework and assignments – Definition and examples of homework

1. Typically given to students to be completed outside of class: Homework is usually assigned outside of class, often to reinforce the material covered in class.

For example, a student might be assigned to read a chapter from a textbook and answer questions about it as homework.

2. Often used to reinforce or practice the material covered in class: Homework is designed to allow students to practice and reinforce the material covered in class.

For example, a student might be assigned math problems as homework to practice solving equations.

3. May be graded or ungraded: Homework may or may not be graded, depending on the teacher or school’s policy. Some homework may be used as a formative assessment to gauge student understanding, while others may not be graded.

Definition and examples of assignments

1. Given as part of a class or course: Assignments are typically given as part of a class or course and are used to evaluate a student’s understanding of the material. For example, a student might be assigned to write an essay as part of an English class.

2. Typically completed in class or under the instructor’s guidance: Assignments are usually completed in class or under the instructor’s guidance. This allows the teacher to provide guidance and support as the student works on the assignment.

For example, a student might complete a group project in class as part of a social studies assignment.

3. Usually graded and contribute to a student’s overall course grade: Assignments are usually graded and contribute to a student’s overall course grade.

For example, a student’s final research paper in a history class might count for 30% of the student’s final grade.

Similarities between homework and assignments

Both are designed to help students learn and practice material: Homework and assignments are designed to help students learn and practice material.

They provide opportunities for students to engage with the material and apply what they have learned in a real-world setting.

Teachers or instructors usually assign both: Homework and assignments by teachers or instructors responsible for creating and grading the tasks.

Both require effort and time to complete: Both homework and assignments require effort and time to complete.

Students will need to set aside dedicated time to work on the tasks and may need to use study strategies and time management techniques to complete them effectively.

How to effectively manage homework and assignments

Time management strategies.

1. Setting aside dedicated time for homework and assignments: One of the most important things students can do to effectively manage their homework and assignments is to set aside dedicated time to work on them.

This might mean setting aside specific hours of the day to work on homework or scheduling blocks of time to work on assignments.

2. Prioritizing tasks based on importance and due date: Another important time management strategy is prioritizing tasks based on importance and due date.

This means focusing on the most important tasks and working on them before moving on to less important ones.

Study Strategies

1. Breaking tasks into manageable chunks: One effective study strategy is to break tasks down into manageable chunks. This means breaking a large task, such as writing a research paper, into smaller parts, such as researching, outlining, and writing.

2. Using mnemonic devices or flashcards to memorize information: Another effective study strategy is to use mnemonic devices or flashcards to memorize information. Mnemonic devices, such as acrostics or rhymes, can help students to remember information more easily.

Flashcards are also useful for memorizing definitions, formulas, and other important information.

Tips for staying motivated

1. Setting goals and rewards: Goals and rewards can help students stay motivated as they work on their homework and assignments.

For example, a student might set a goal to finish a research paper by a certain date and reward themselves with a movie night or a favorite food.

2. Breaking up long study sessions with short breaks: Breaking up long study sessions with short breaks can help students to stay focused and motivated.

This might mean taking a 5-minute break after every hour of studying or a more extended break after completing a particularly difficult task.

This post discussed the differences and similarities between homework and assignments. We also discussed strategies for effectively managing homework and assignments, including time management techniques, study strategies, and tips for staying motivated.

Final thoughts on the importance of understanding the difference between homework and assignments:

Understanding the difference between homework and assignments is essential for students because it can help them to manage their time more effectively and prioritize their tasks.

Encourage readers to use the strategies discussed in the post to manage their homework and assignments effectively: We hope that the strategies discussed in this post will be helpful for students as they work to manage their homework and assignments.

By using effective time management techniques, study strategies, and tips for staying motivated, students can improve their ability to complete tasks and achieve academic goals.

Homework V/s. Assignment

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The Perfect Homework Assignment: Things You Need to Know

Homework assignments play a pivotal role in students’ educational journey, acting as an intermediary between classroom learning and independent mastery of concepts. Crafting the ideal homework assignment is an art educators seek to master. In this blog post, we will look at its essential elements that ensure it provides meaningful experiences for students while being beneficial overall learning experiences.

Understanding Your Purpose

Step one in crafting the ideal homework assignment is clearly outlining its purpose. Homework shouldn’t simply be seen as another mundane chore but as a means of augmenting classroom instruction; teachers need to ask themselves: Which learning objectives am I trying to reinforce with this assignment? Educators should ask themselves, “Which specific learning objectives will this assignment reinforce?” such as reinforcing concepts, encouraging critical thinking, or developing independent research abilities – having this defined in advance can ensure its success

Clear Instructions and Expectations

One of the key challenges in homework assignments is vague or unclear instructions. For optimal results, educators must provide clear and direct directions; students should understand exactly what is expected of them and its scope as well as any evaluation criteria or assessment criteria. Clarity not only encourages confidence among students but also guarantees that assignments fulfill their intended purposes.

Personalization and Relevance

A great homework assignment takes into account students’ unique learning styles and interests, offering something that speaks directly to each student’s learning style and interests. Tailoring assignments by adding real-world examples or giving students a choice in choosing topics that resonate with them enhances engagement and motivation, leading them to dedicate more time and energy towards completing it – leading them to gain a deeper comprehension of the material studied.

Balancing Challenge and Accessibility

Striking an effective balance between challenge and accessibility in homework assignments is of utmost importance for their effectiveness. Too easy assignments could become tedious formalities; too complex could cause frustration or discouragement among students. Therefore, educators must create assignments tailored specifically for each difficulty level to encourage critical thinking without overwhelming students.

Feedback and Reflection

Learning does not stop with homework completion; it also encompasses providing timely and constructive feedback afterward. Giving timely and constructive comments that highlight areas for improvement while acknowledging student strengths are an integral component of an ideal homework assignment. Furthermore, encouraging reflection helps students understand their learning process as well as identify strategies for improvement.

Integrating Technology

Technology can enhance the quality of homework assignments in today’s digital environment. Platforms for collaboration, research, and multimedia presentations give students various ways to express their understanding in multiple forms. However, it’s essential that technology serves as an aid rather than a hindrance, taking into account student access levels and proficiency levels.

Protecting Yourself Against Plagiarism

As education evolves, concerns over academic integrity become more pressing. Teachers must remain vigilant in crafting assignments that foster original thought and creativity while at the same time taking steps to prevent plagiarism; awareness of reputable sources, correct citation techniques, and discussions regarding academic integrity must all be part of a homework assignment.

Top Essay Writing Reviews and Where Can I Purchase Essays Online Reviews

Academic support services often allow students to seek assistance online through various platforms. With more students turning to essay writing or considering to buy essays online reviews as sources of academic assistance. It’s vital that we address this growing trend of seeking assistance through such platforms – even though such services promise convenience. There can still be substantial risks involved, including plagiarism and compromised academic integrity.

Educators must emphasize the value of independent learning and critical thinking skills, discouraging the use of top essay writing reviews services. Engaging students in conversations regarding ethical behavior and academic dishonesty will enable them to make more informed decisions regarding their educational journey.

Risks Associated With Essay Writing Services Online

Academic communities are becoming increasingly concerned with the lure of purchasing essays online or engaging essay writing services as an option for quick solutions and high-quality content, but risks must not be discounted when using such services. Plagiarism, compromised academic integrity, and potential legal repercussions all present inherent dangers when students use such services; educators must educate students on these hazards to build a culture of academic honesty and integrity among their student body.

Adopting Creativity and Collaboration

Teachers looking to elevate the perfect homework assignment should explore opportunities for creativity and collaboration among their students. By encouraging student teams to collaborate on projects together and permitting alternative forms of expression like multimedia presentations or creative writing, educators can tap into students’ varied talents and create an exciting and stimulating homework environment.

Crafting the ideal homework assignment involves an intricate blend of pedagogy, clear instructions, personalization, and technology use. By prioritizing these elements in their assignment creation process, educators can craft homework that not only reinforces classroom learning but also fosters independent exploration and critical thinking among their students. With the evolving landscape of education in mind, educators must address challenges presented by online essay writing services while leading students toward ethical academic practices – which will contribute to holistic development as they are prepared for academic and professional success in future endeavors.

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  • Articles / Homework

Smart Homework: How to Manage & Assess It

by MiddleWeb · Published 08/20/2014 · Updated 12/14/2019

In the first installment of our smart homework series from author & teaching consultant Rick Wormeli, he made the case for take-home assignments that matter for learning and engage student interest . In Part 2 , Rick suggested 13 guiding principles to help teachers create homework challenges that spark deeper learning. In this final article, Rick suggests some good ways to assess homework and manage the workload .

These articles are adapted with permission from Rick’s seminal book about teaching in the middle grades, Day One & Beyond: Practical Matters for New Middle Level Teachers (Stenhouse, 2005). Rick continues to offer great advice about homework, differentiation, assessment and many other topics in workshops and presentations across North America.


Fresh approaches to middle grades homework have many benefits, but how does all this play out as we manage homework in our classrooms? How do we assess homework effectively? How do we handle the paperwork? How do we guard against homework becoming just busywork again?

Here are some ideas:

▶ For big projects with multiple weeks of student responses, such as a science learning log or a reader’s response journal, skim every page students have written, but have students select one entry for a letter grade by placing a star on the intended page. The entry should demonstrate outstanding thinking, science protocol, plot analysis, personal response, or whatever you’re emphasizing with the unit. If you’re worried about having a large enough sample, grade two or three entries.

▶ When checking a list of problems, sentences, or answers to questions, have students work in groups of four or five to confirm answers with one another. If someone gets the wrong answer and doesn’t understand why, the rest of the group explains. If the student or group is stuck in understanding how an answer was achieved, they identify that one problem/sentence/question to the teacher when she calls the groups back to the whole class. The teacher reviews only identified problems.

▶ While groups are meeting to review homework, the teacher circulates from group to group, recording evidence of successful collaborations (to be shared later with the whole group), answering questions, correcting misconceptions, facilitating student conversations, and identifying areas to reteach. The great thing about this method is found in the value of conversation, not just the assessment the teacher does. Students who “talk math” (or English, history, science, art, PE, technology, drama, or music) learn those subjects.

Illustration of a Male and Female Teens Sharing a Book

▶ Don’t grade everything. Some assignments can be marked with a check or a zero for having done it. Spot-check problems two, nine, and seventeen because they represent different concepts you were worried about students understanding.

▶ Keep the student’s effort in doing the homework from diluting the grade that indicates mastery of content. That is, separate work habits from the letter grade if you can. Even though I know that good work habits usually yield high achievement, as a parent I don’t want my son’s grade to be based on anything but mastery of content and skills. If the grade’s validity reflects good effort but not mastery, then my son isn’t held accountable for learning, I don’t have a valid judgment of his learning, and he doesn’t have the required knowledge.

In the real world, we do not pay a carpet layer for the job until the job is done, regardless of how many hours or days it took, or how hot it was. The degree of his effort is not relevant, just that the job is done well (the standard of excellence was achieved). High-tech-industry workers may work all night long preparing a proposal for a client, but their efforts are irrelevant to the client who accepts and reviews all proposals equally that cross her desk by 10:00 a.m. the next morning.

Revising and Redoing Homework

what is a commonplace homework assignment that you receive

The teacher is an expert and a coach. Students are not penalized for multiple attempts and revisions, or for not understanding the first time around. The focus is on achieving the standard of excellence. The feedback to the student is clear: If they don’t achieve, they are not given master craftsman status (an A), nor can they set up a practice. They have not yet met the rigorous criteria (standards) for mastery. We can see the revision of important homework tasks in the same way—students do it until they get it right.

Consider the reflections of middle school educator Nancy Long: “We have experimented with dozens of rubric styles over the last few years, and my favorite still is the one that lists all of the content criteria and all of the quality criteria on the left side and has two columns on the right side: YES and NOT YET. Check marks are used in the appropriate column to show which criteria have been met and which still need work.”

Nancy continues: “I try to schedule deadlines for assignments far enough ahead of the end of the grading period so there is time for everyone to get the papers back and do over what was not right before I must assign a grade ‘in concrete.’ . . . (like) in most things in our adult lives, we can mess up and still get another chance to get it right without too large a penalty!”

Another successful educator, Bill Ivey, says this about redoing homework assignments:

“It is exactly what we want our children to do. We had an English teacher who, by taking her sixth-grade class carefully through draft after draft, helped them create poetry that was more powerful than many of the poetry contest winners at our high school, where the poetry program is considered to be quite strong. The principle here can apply to any subject and any learning.”

Punishing Students Who Don’t Do Homework

Teenage Student - Vector

Homework’s objective is to be instructional, not punitive. It would be wrong to fail a student for not doing homework when he had mastered all I had to teach. It would, however, indicate that I must not be doing my job very well. If my course is too easy for the student, then I need to make it more challenging for him or pursue placing him in a more advanced course.

Some argue against assessing homework in light of out-of-school pressures affecting a student’s ability to do schoolwork. We need to remember that our first task is to teach so that students will learn. Punishing a kid who cannot complete an assignment due to something beyond his control is abusive. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say that a child has to do the homework and if he doesn’t, that’s just tough, regardless of the child’s situation.

We can work with families to find a satisfactory way in which to complete the work. I had a student who worked approximately four hours after school every day of the week in order to help support his family. Yes, I could have told him and his family that it is illegal to work at his age. Yes, I could have told him and the family that school is his job and it should come first. But food, medicine, and shelter were more basic needs. Completing a worksheet on objective pronouns pales in comparison.

If the student masters the material, then why should I fail him for not doing homework in the midst of such struggles? We should do the most effective thing for students, not the easiest thing for teachers. Many of our students live in harsh realities. Our compassion and alternative structuring of homework assignments will prepare those students for adult success far better than the punishment for not doing a set of 20 math problems ever will.

Is homework a necessary evil?

Illustration of a Male Teenager Having Trouble with His Homework

It’s troubling that many of today’s homework assignments and practices parallel those from the turn of the last century. Today’s middle schools require innovative and developmentally responsive homework based on what we now know about the human brain and young adolescents. One of the pluses of teaching and using these sanity-saving, creative approaches is that we get to experience the inspiring products our students create.

▶ Bonus idea: Homework reprieve

If you’re looking for ways to reward and motivate students and integrate homework into the regular work flow of your classroom, try a “Homework Deadline Extension Certificate.” I used these every quarter in my own classroom. Students really compete for them.

Textured red blue retro certificate. A vintage horizontal poster with a large copy space for you. Pe

On the day an assignment is due, students can submit the certificate instead of their homework and they are automatically allowed to turn in the assignment one, two, or three days late, according to your comfort level, for full credit. If we reward those who’ve earned these certificates by extending the deadline but not voiding the need to complete the assignment, we haven’t diminished the assignment’s importance. ( Make your own certificate .)

Of course, students learn to be judicious in their use—if the assignment was to study for tomorrow’s test, it won’t help them to use their deadline extension certificate. If they’re working on a complicated project, they’d be wise to have their certificate in reserve.


His books include Meet Me in the Middle ; Day One and Beyond ; Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom ; Differentiation: From Planning to Practice; Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject, and Summarization in Any Subject , plus The Collected Writings (So Far) of Rick Wormeli: Crazy Good Stuff I Learned about Teaching Along the Way .

He is currently working on his first young adult fiction novel and a new book on homework practices in the 21 st century.

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What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

Home » Resources » Four Solutions to Common Homework Issues

Four Solutions to Common Homework Issues

  • By Jonathan Wolf
  • June 5, 2017

Four Solutions to Common Homework Issues

Families often have recurring conflict over getting homework done. Parents may have a clear idea (sometimes a good one, sometimes not) of how homework should get done, but kids just won’t comply.

This guest article, addressed to parents, is by Signet’s friend and academic/life coach, Jonathan Wolf. While we often focus mostly on academics, Jon focuses on helping students and families navigate some of the dynamics around things like homework.

Below, Jon suggests a few ways to try to change the dynamic of conflict around homework into something more productive. We hope you find this helpful!

Today I’d like to address “the H word,” infamous for both kids and parents: HOMEWORK. If your child comes home from school, grabs a quick bite to eat, tells you about their day, and sits right down to start on their two and half hours of biology, English, and history…well, congratulations. For many families, this scenario is pure fantasy.

But not to worry! You are part of a bigger community looking for answers, and answers you shall receive! Before jumping into these strategies for common homework challenges, keep in mind that not all parents and students are the same. There is no one guaranteed approach to facilitate your child completing their homework; you may use a combination of strategies to maximize your success. Be sure to elicit some answers from your student about what works best for them, and most importantly…remember to breathe. Patience will go a long way.

Homework Challenge #1:


Parents, when you get home from a long (and sometimes unpleasant) day at work, the last thing you want to do is get into a deep conversation about your day. This can apply to kids too! Keep in mind that they go to school for about seven hours a day, with people they don’t always choose to be around, doing tasks they don’t always like, and then typically come home to a few hours’ worth of homework.

Solution: Next time your kid gets home from school, let them have a little breathing room to unwind, maybe grab a snack, and “turn their brains off” in their own way. Give them around half an hour. Then encourage them to get to work, because research shows students have higher homework success rates when they get started within an hour of coming home from school.

Homework Challenge #2:


Some research says that on average, we are able to maintain focus for approximately eight seconds before a mental “firework” or distraction invades our mind. Sitting in front of a TV screen, at a computer with nine different tabs open, at a desk with years of “junk” on it, or starting homework right after an intense game of Call of Duty will definitely make your student more prone to mental “fireworks” going off.

Solution: Just like athletes before a game or practice, try a very brief warm-up routine. Research shows that an individual’s mindset prior to learning can have an impact on their focus, attention, and absorption of the material. So first, work with your kid on creating and keeping their personal workspace clean, easy to access, and with minimal visual distractions. Next, have them sit down, close their eyes, and count their breaths (in and out is one) to ten. This may be challenging for your child regardless of age, so doing it with them is a great starter and positive modeling. (And a little deep breathing isn’t a bad idea for you either!)

Homework Challenge #3:


If improving focus, productivity, task completion, and overall mental well-being is a goal for you and your student, then multiple breaks will be necessary. When students get older and into high school and college, they typically think taking breaks is a waste of time and impedes their “flow”. But regardless of age, taking even a 5-10-minute break between sections of homework improves your kid’s focus while they are working, which will in turn improve task completion.

Solution: If they are open to it, have your student set a timer on their phone (between 30 and 45 minutes) and when the alarm sounds, they can take a break (something that gets them away from their workspace and allows their brain to “reset”) for 5 to 10 minutes—see what rhythm works for you.

Homework Challenge #4:


Sometimes it happens over and over: your child doesn’t finish their work, forgets materials at school, pushes long-term assignments off, and maybe even lies about when a project is due or how much work they have. If this is a pattern, you need to address the underlying issue. Is the assignment confusing for your student, are they overwhelmed by either the individual project or the total amount of work they have, or could it be a focus or attention issue?

Solution: In a non-judgmental manner, have an open dialogue with your student about what is really challenging for them, and see if extra support through tutoring, coaching, or clarification from teachers may help with the underlying challenge. Not only will this help with at-home assignments, it’s also a great opportunity to connect with your child.

Homework challenges may never go away. Keep in mind that focusing on the process of getting work done is far more important than any individual assignment. There are typically rational reasons for these homework issues and it takes effective communication, patience, and a desire to understand your student’s challenges in order to find the solutions that work best for them.

This post was written by guest writer Jonathan Wolf, owner and founder of YouTime Coaching.

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Commonplace Book Assignments

These assignments recombine Research Based Learning (RBL) approaches with “maker” practices inspired by the digital humanities to help students engage cognitively and affectively with early modern literature and history.

“ CPB/DB Assignments ” introduces the concept of early modern commonplace books, plus digital research and composition practices. Here one may find sample prompts that put a twist on conventional commonplacing as they draw from multiple open-access digital humanities resources and generate discussion questions for class. These homework assignments replace conventional discussion board posts.

“ CPB Presentations ” is an assignment that asks students to research and develop an idea that piqued their curiosity and share it with the class.

The “ KMP Options Spring 2020 ” assignment offers students an opportunity to research and condense a line of inquiry that has arisen in their commonplace books that they may contribute to The Kit Marlowe Project website.

“CPB Synthesis” is an essay assignment that both embraces our exploratory practices of research and learning, while meeting our departmental assessment requirements.

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High-quality homework: How to assign the right amount, and the most effective formats of homework for the 2019-2020 school year

by Chandra Williams | Jul 16, 2019

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Although studies have shown that homework offers some benefits to students, assigning too much homework can actually cause students to experience higher stress levels and physical and mental health issues . In this article, we’ll discuss guidelines you can use to assign high quality homework for your students.

What is the “ten-minute homework guideline?”

The National PTA and National Education Association support the “ ten minute homework guideline ,” which suggests each student should have about ten minutes of homework per grade level. First-grade students should have between ten to twenty minutes of homework, with an additional ten minutes added for each subsequent grade level.

The ten-minute homework rule offers several benefits to students, including:

  • Reduces the likelihood of students becoming overwhelmed.
  • Prevents diminishing returns for academic success.
  • Reduces the impact of the “homework gap,” a term indicating the disproportionate challenges faced by students who do not have access to the internet and other resources to complete homework assignments at their homes.
  • Reduces impact on students who naturally take longer to complete homework assignments.

What purposes should homework accomplish?

Most homework assignments fall into one of the following four categories :

  • Practice — Students have learned skills in class and practice using those skills on their own at home. For example, students learned the order of operations in math class and practice using these skills by solving some multi-step equations.
  • Preparation — Students prepare to learn about a new concept in class the next day. For example, students read the first chapter of a new book which will be discussed in tomorrow’s English class.
  • Study — Students review content they have already learned and practiced to prepare for a formative, unit, or benchmark assessment.
  • Extend or Elaborate — Students have learned about a general concept in class, and complete individual work to expand their knowledge on the topic. For example, students learned about the formation of the United States in class, and each student will individually create a project exploring the history of a different state.

When students’ complete homework for the purpose of practicing skills, they may have single-skill assignments or cumulative assignments.

  • Single-skill assignments are most effective when students need to master the skill taught in class. For example, students may list the steps of the scientific method.
  • Cumulative assignments require students to decide which skill they need to use when solving a particular problem, and then properly use the skill. For example, students are presented with an experiment, must determine which steps in the scientific method need to be completed, and then must complete the experiment and demonstrate its results.

What is the most effective type of homework?

Existing studies have found that student performance is most positively affected when homework is used to build fluency, master new concepts, and proficiency. Students retain information better when the practice is conducted over several shorter sessions, rather than through one marathon session. Additionally, students should be able to use the same processes and skills with their homework assignments, which were modeled and demonstrated during class. In other words, homework assignments should be presented in the same format as classroom practices.

What are best practices for assigning homework?

Research suggests that homework is most effective when:.

  • Assignments promote curiosity, leading to “ autonomous, self-directed learning .”
  • Students have already “ demonstrated competence in the skill…before being asked to do it independently.”
  • Teachers consider some students do not have access to the internet, a quiet working space, or homework help from parents or a tutor.
  • Students understand the purpose of completing each homework assignment.
  • Teachers provide feedback quickly, minimizing the chance for students to forget the assignment before they learn their scores.
  • Teachers keep in mind that middle school and high school students may be assigned homework from all of their classes, and the ten-minute homework guideline applies to the combined homework load.


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Unlocking Progress: Powerful Homework Assignments for Counseling Success

The power of therapeutic homework assignments.

Homework assignments play a significant role in  counseling and therapy , offering clients an opportunity to extend their progress beyond the therapy session. These assignments provide a structured and focused approach to reinforce therapeutic concepts and facilitate personal growth. In this section, we will explore the  importance  of therapeutic homework assignments and the  benefits  they bring to the counseling process.

Introduction to Therapeutic Homework Assignments

Therapeutic homework assignments refer to tasks or exercises that clients undertake between counseling sessions to enhance the effectiveness of therapy. These assignments are carefully designed to target specific therapeutic goals and address individual needs. By engaging in these tasks, clients actively participate in their own healing process, gaining a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy.

Therapeutic homework assignments can take various forms, including written exercises, reflection activities, behavioral experiments, and more. The assignments are tailored to each client’s unique circumstances, ensuring relevance and applicability to their specific challenges and goals. Moreover, they can be facilitated using various digital tools and platforms, providing a seamless experience for both client and therapist.

Benefits of Using Homework Assignments in Counseling

The use of homework assignments in counseling offers several benefits that contribute to the overall success of therapeutic interventions. Here are some key advantages:

  • Continuity and Consistency:  Homework assignments create a bridge between counseling sessions, maintaining continuity in the therapeutic process. They allow clients to practice and reinforce therapeutic skills and strategies regularly, integrating them into their daily lives.
  • Deepened Insight and Awareness:  Engaging in homework assignments encourages clients to reflect on their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors outside of the therapy session. This heightened self-awareness promotes a deeper understanding of patterns, triggers, and underlying issues.
  • Enhanced Skill Development:  Homework assignments provide clients with the opportunity to practice new coping mechanisms, communication skills, and behavioral changes in real-life situations. This active practice helps to consolidate learning and develop new habits.
  • Empowerment and Ownership:  By actively participating in their own therapeutic journey, clients develop a sense of ownership and empowerment. Homework assignments allow clients to take charge of their progress, fostering a sense of control and self-efficacy.
  • Efficiency and Time Optimization:  Homework assignments optimize the use of therapy time by focusing sessions on processing and discussing the assignments rather than spending valuable session time on skill-building activities.

To effectively implement and maximize the benefits of therapeutic homework assignments, it is essential to tailor the assignments to the individual needs and goals of each client. This includes considering factors such as learning styles, preferences, and age groups. Furthermore, setting clear objectives, providing comprehensive instructions, and encouraging accountability and follow-up are key elements in ensuring the successful implementation of homework assignments.

In the following sections, we will explore different types of therapeutic homework assignments, how to tailor them to clients, and strategies for implementing and evaluating their impact. By utilizing these strategies, therapists can unlock the full potential of therapeutic homework assignments in supporting their clients’ progress and fostering lasting change.

Types of Therapeutic Homework Assignments

Therapeutic homework assignments are a powerful tool utilized in counseling to enhance the therapeutic process and promote client growth and progress. Let’s explore some common types of therapeutic homework assignments that can be effective in supporting the counseling journey.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Assignments

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) assignments are widely used in counseling. CBT focuses on identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, and replacing them with more positive and constructive ones. Homework assignments in CBT often involve activities like thought records, where clients monitor their thoughts and emotions, and work towards reframing negative thinking patterns. These assignments help clients develop new coping strategies and promote self-awareness. For more information on CBT assignments, check out our article on  therapeutic assignments .

Mindfulness and Meditation Exercises

Mindfulness and meditation exercises are valuable tools for promoting relaxation, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. Homework assignments in this category may include guided meditation recordings, breathing exercises, or daily mindfulness practices. These assignments encourage clients to cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce stress, and develop a deeper connection to their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Mindfulness and meditation exercises can be particularly beneficial for clients experiencing anxiety or stress-related issues.

Journaling and Writing Prompts

Journaling and writing prompts provide clients with a means to express their thoughts, emotions, and reflections in a structured way. These assignments can help clients gain insight, process their experiences, and foster self-reflection. Writing prompts may involve exploring gratitude, identifying strengths, or journaling about specific events or challenges. By engaging in regular journaling, clients can gain a deeper understanding of their emotions and thought patterns. For additional resources on therapeutic writing, visit our article on  therapy homework journal .

Art Therapy and Creative Expression

Art therapy and creative expression assignments utilize artistic mediums to encourage self-expression , exploration, and emotional healing. These assignments can involve activities like drawing, painting, or collage-making. Engaging in creative processes allows clients to tap into their subconscious and express thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to verbalize. Art therapy assignments can be particularly beneficial for clients who struggle with verbal communication or prefer non-traditional forms of expression. For more ideas on incorporating art therapy into counseling, explore our article on  therapeutic homework activities .

By incorporating these types of therapeutic homework assignments, counselors can enhance the effectiveness of their counseling sessions and promote client progress and self-discovery. It’s important to remember that each client is unique, and tailoring homework assignments to their specific needs and goals is crucial. Additionally, providing clear instructions and guidelines, as well as encouraging accountability and follow-up, can further enhance the impact of these assignments.

Tailoring Homework Assignments to Clients

To maximize the effectiveness of therapeutic homework assignments, it’s crucial to tailor them to the unique needs and preferences of each client. This personalized approach ensures that the assignments are meaningful, engaging, and aligned with the client’s therapeutic goals. Here are three key considerations when tailoring homework assignments:

Assessing Client Needs and Goals

Before assigning any homework, it’s essential to conduct a thorough assessment of the client’s needs and goals. This assessment helps to identify areas of focus and determine the most appropriate interventions. By understanding the specific challenges and desired outcomes, you can design homework assignments that directly address the client’s concerns. This personalized approach enhances the relevance and effectiveness of the assigned tasks.

Considering Learning Styles and Preferences

Each client has their own unique learning style and preferences. Some individuals may prefer visual learning, while others may be more inclined towards auditory or kinesthetic learning. By taking into account these learning styles, you can select homework assignments that resonate with the client’s preferred mode of learning. For example, visual learners may benefit from assignments that involve visualizations or drawing, while auditory learners may find audio recordings or guided meditations more effective. Adapting the assignments to match the client’s learning style enhances their engagement and comprehension.

Adapting Assignments for Different Age Groups

Clients of different age groups may require varying approaches to their homework assignments. Children and adolescents, for instance, may benefit from assignments that incorporate play, creativity, or gamification elements. On the other hand, adults may prefer assignments that involve self-reflection, goal-setting, or written exercises. It’s important to consider the developmental stage, cognitive abilities, and interests of the client when designing the assignments. Adapting the assignments to suit different age groups ensures that they are age-appropriate and promote meaningful therapeutic progress.

By considering the client’s needs, goals, learning styles, and age group, you can tailor homework assignments that are relevant, engaging, and effective. This personalized approach fosters a strong therapeutic alliance and empowers clients to actively participate in their own healing journey. Remember to regularly assess the impact of the assignments, gather client feedback, and make necessary adjustments to ensure continued progress.

Implementing Effective Homework Assignments

To maximize the benefits of  homework assignments  in counseling, it is crucial to implement them effectively. This involves setting clear and achievable objectives, providing clear instructions and guidelines, and encouraging accountability and follow-up.

Setting Clear and Achievable Objectives

When assigning homework, it is important to set clear objectives that align with the client’s therapeutic goals. Clearly define what the client is expected to accomplish through the assignment. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This clarity helps clients understand the purpose of the assignment and stay focused on their progress. It also allows both the therapist and client to track the effectiveness of the assignment in addressing the client’s concerns.

Providing Clear Instructions and Guidelines

Clear instructions and guidelines are essential for ensuring that clients understand how to complete their homework assignments effectively. Provide step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. Use simple language and avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse or overwhelm clients. Consider providing examples or visual aids to enhance comprehension. Additionally, specify any resources or materials that may be required to complete the assignment. This clarity helps clients feel confident in their ability to complete the assignment and facilitates their engagement in the therapeutic process.

Encouraging Accountability and Follow-Up

Accountability plays a vital role in the success of homework assignments. Encourage clients to take responsibility for their progress by setting expectations for completion and follow-up. Establish a system for clients to report their progress, such as regular check-ins or journal entries. This allows therapists to provide feedback, offer guidance, and address any questions or concerns that may arise. By fostering a sense of accountability, clients are more likely to engage with their homework assignments and actively participate in their therapeutic journey.

Effective implementation of homework assignments involves a collaborative approach between the therapist and the client. By setting clear objectives, providing clear instructions and guidelines, and encouraging accountability, therapists can enhance the therapeutic value of homework assignments and support clients in achieving their counseling goals. For additional resources and ideas, explore our article on  therapeutic homework ideas .

Evaluating the Impact of Homework Assignments

To ensure the effectiveness of  homework assignments  in counseling, it is crucial to evaluate their impact on clients’ progress and well-being. This evaluation process involves gathering client feedback and reflections, adjusting and modifying assignments as needed, and tracking progress and success.

Gathering Client Feedback and Reflections

Regularly seeking feedback from clients is an essential part of evaluating the impact of homework assignments. This feedback can be obtained through verbal discussions during counseling sessions or by providing clients with written evaluation forms. By asking clients about their experiences with the assignments, their level of engagement, and any challenges they may have faced, counselors can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of the tasks.

Encouraging clients to reflect on the benefits they have derived from completing the assignments is equally important. This reflection can help clients develop self-awareness and cultivate a deeper understanding of their progress and growth throughout the counseling process. By incorporating open-ended questions or journaling prompts into the homework assignments, clients can express their thoughts and insights on their therapeutic journey.

Adjusting and Modifying Assignments as Needed

Based on the feedback received from clients, counselors may need to adjust or modify the homework assignments to better meet their specific needs. This could involve tailoring the assignments to align with clients’ goals, preferences, or learning styles. For instance, if clients express a preference for visual learning, counselors can incorporate more visual elements into the assignments, such as  therapeutic homework worksheets  or  therapeutic homework activities .

Additionally, if clients find certain assignments too challenging or not engaging enough, counselors can adapt the tasks or provide alternative options. This flexibility allows counselors to ensure that the assignments remain relevant and effective in supporting clients’ progress and therapeutic outcomes.

Tracking Progress and Success

Tracking clients’ progress and success is a vital component of evaluating the impact of homework assignments. Counselors can use various methods to monitor clients’ development, such as tracking completion rates, assessing changes in symptoms or behaviors, or comparing pre- and post-assignment outcomes.

A  therapy homework tracker  can be a valuable tool in this regard, providing a visual representation of clients’ progress over time. This can help both clients and counselors recognize patterns, identify areas of improvement, and celebrate achievements. By using a  homework management system  or  therapy homework app , counselors can easily organize and analyze data, ensuring that the evaluation process remains efficient and effective.

By continuously evaluating the impact of homework assignments through client feedback, adjustments, and progress tracking, counselors can optimize the effectiveness of their therapeutic interventions. This evaluation process not only enhances clients’ overall experience but also enables counselors to tailor their approach and ensure that the assignments align with clients’ unique needs and goals.

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Homework in Cognitive Behavioral Supervision: Theoretical Background and Clinical Application

1 Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Olomouc, Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University in Olomouc, Olomouc, The Czech Republic

2 Department of Psychology Sciences, Faculty of Social Science and Health Care, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Nitra, The Slovak Republic

3 Department of Psychotherapy, Institute for Postgraduate Training in Health Care, Prague, The Czech Republic

4 Jessenia Inc. - Rehabilitation Hospital Beroun, Akeso Holding, Beroun, The Czech Republic

Ilona Krone

5 Riga`s Stradins University, Riga, Latvia

Julius Burkauskas

6 Laboratory of Behavioral Medicine, Neuroscience Institute, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania

Jakub Vanek

Marija abeltina.

7 University of Latvia, Latvian Association of CBT, Riga, Latvia

Alicja Juskiene

Tomas sollar, milos slepecky, marie ociskova.

The homework aims to generalize the patient’s knowledge and encourage practicing skills learned during therapy sessions. Encouraging and facilitating homework is an important part of supervisees in their supervision, and problems with using homework in therapy are a common supervision agenda. Supervisees are encouraged to conceptualize the patient’s lack of homework and promote awareness of their own beliefs and responses to non-cooperation. The supervision focuses on homework twice – first as a part of the supervised therapy and second as a part of the supervision itself. Homework assigned in supervision usually deals with mapping problems, monitoring certain behaviors (mostly communication with the patient), or implementing new behaviors in therapy.


The development of competent clinical supervision is crucial to effectively training new CBT therapists and supervisors and maintaining high therapy standards throughout their careers. 1 Clinical supervision is a basis for CBT training, but there are only a few empirical evaluations on the effect of supervision on therapists’ competencies. Wilson et al 2 in their systematic review and meta-analysis, synthesized the experience and impact of supervision for trainee therapists from 15 qualitative studies. Although supervision leads to feelings of distress and self-doubts, it can effectively support supervisees in personal and professional development. It could similarly harm supervisees’ well-being, clinical work and clients’ experiences. Alfonsson et al 3 published a study to evaluate the effects of standardized supervision on rater-assessed competency in six CBT therapists under protocol-based clinical supervision. This is one of the first investigations showing that supervision affects cognitive behavioral competencies. Although several works have studied the effectiveness of supervision on the therapist’s competence and for the therapist’s work with patients in qualitative studies, 3–7 there is still a lack of studies that dealt with the importance of homework in supervision.

Homework is a vital element of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which distinguishes it from many other psychotherapeutic approaches. 8–10 Patients usually participate in therapy by completing homework assignments and taking responsibility for their course.

Assigning and discussing homework is one of the basic competencies of a cognitive-behavioral therapist and a supervisor in the context of counselling, psychology, therapy, and social work. The manuscript aims to refer to homework in several settings: homework in therapy, supervision of homework in therapy, using the homework by the supervisor for the supervisee, and homework in the training of supervisors.

Homework in Therapy

While specific recommendations for the practical usage of homework have been clearly articulated since the early days of CBT, 11 , 12 practitioners state that they do not follow these recommendations. 13–15 For example, many physicians admit that they forget homework or do not focus on standard specifications when, where, how often, and how long the task should last. Often reported non-cooperation in homework assignments may be due to the practice recommendations being too strict or because students think the amount of homework they can assign is limited. 16

The Sense of Homework in the Therapy

Patients verify methods and skills they learned during the session in real situations and the natural environment. 9 , 17 Through homework, patients also test hypotheses that emerged during the session with the therapist (for example, “If I went out on the street alone, I would be so weak that I would pass out or lose control completely”). Homework help that the important part of the therapy takes place between sessions and allows the patients to become independent and manage their problems even after the end of therapy. 10 , 18 Patients learn how to raise hypotheses and test them in real-life situations. Through completing homework persistently during the therapy, patients gain skills on how to plan their activities and gain new skills, and they also collect a rich source of therapeutic diaries. The investigations advocate that adding homework to CBT increases its efficacy and that patients who constantly complete homework have better outcomes. The outcomes of four meta-analyses highlight the value of homework in CBT:

  • Kazantzis et al 10 inspected 14 studies that compared results for patients allocated to CBT without or with homework. The average patient in the homework group reported better results than about 70% of controls.
  • Outcomes from 16 studies 17 and an updated analysis of 23 studies 19 discovered that higher compliance led to better treatment results among patients who received homework projects during therapy.
  • Kazantzis et al 20 studied the relationships between quantity (15 studies) and quality (3 studies) of the homework to treatment results. The effect sizes were medium to large, and these effects remained fairly constant in a 12-month follow-up.

Therapists strategically create homework to reduce patients’ psychopathology and encourage them to practice skills learned during therapy sessions; nevertheless, non-adherence (between 20% and 50%) remains one of the most cited reasons for decreased CBT efficacy. 21 Several reasons for non-adherence to homework might be pointed out –the therapist does not regularly discuss homework with the patient, the patient no longer considers it important and stop doing it. 9 , 22 Discussing homework also allows the therapist to strengthen the patient’s belief in their ability to achieve certain goals. 23 The fact that the patient has completed the assignment must be properly acknowledged, and then therapists discuss the quality of homework separately. 24 Good questions might be, “How did you do your homework? Were there any difficulties in fulfilling them? What kind?” Furthermore: “How can you handle these problems next time? What did you learn while completing your homework? Can it help you cope with other issues?”

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Homework in the Therapy

Homework is the most effective, and it is most likely to succeed if: 19 , 25

  • Follows logically from the topics discussed during the session and uses the methods that the patient learned during the session;
  • they are clearly and concretely defined, so it is easy to determine whether or to what extent the patient has been successful in fulfilling them (eg, “Leaving the house alone for at least 30 minutes every day”, not “Starting to go out alone”);
  • the patient clearly understands their meaning (“To verify your belief that you will faint on the street” or “See for yourself whether your anxiety will continue to rise, remain the same or subside after a certain time”), and they believe they can achieve the goals;
  • homework is formulated so that failure is impossible because, in any case, the patient will learn something useful that will help them in therapy;
  • the therapist anticipates and discusses obstacles that could hinder the fulfilment of homework and plans procedures to overcome them.

An important aspect of CBT is the patient’s independence. 10 , 18 Homework is typically determined by consensus. To increase the likelihood that the patient will complete the homework, the patient and the therapist should document their assignments in writing. Additionally, it is very convenient for the patient to record the homework, typically pre-prepared. 24 These records serve as a basis for discussing homework in the next session and also allow the therapist to assess the changes achieved during therapy (“A month ago, you were able to go out alone for only half an hour and your anxiety level previously reached level ‘9’, while now you were alone outside for more than an hour and your anxiety do not exceed ‘5’ rated subjectively”).

Because the goal of therapy is to help the patient experience success, the patient’s assigned homework must be feasible. 18 , 26 On the other hand, patients should improve their ability to cope with problems and unpleasant conditions during therapy, they need to exert significant effort to overcome certain unpleasant feelings and emotions. 19 , 20

Even if therapists follow all these rules, they will unavoidably find that sometimes the patient does not complete assigned homework. 20 , 23 In this case, it is required to find out why this happened:

  • whether the patient understood what the task was and what it meant
  • whether mastering this exercise is important and motivated
  • whether unforeseen circumstances prevented them from fulfilling it
  • whether the assigned exercise was not very demanding for them in their current mental state

Therefore, therapists do not consider the non-fulfilment of homework a priori as a manifestation of resistance or lack of moral qualities on the patient’s part, then as a problem that must be solved together.

However, if, despite a thorough discussion of homework and agreement on its completion, the patient repeatedly does not even attempt to complete it, does not bring records and fails to justify non-compliance, it is necessary to return to the problem analysis and goal-setting. We need to clarify with the patient whether the problem they are currently dealing with in therapy is really the most important for them, whether the goal they seek to achieve is sufficiently desirable, and whether the therapist offers to achieve is acceptable. 9 , 20

Most practicing CBT therapists report that they use homework and consider homework important for many problems 14 and believe in the role of homework in improving therapeutic outcomes. 24 , 27 Encouraging and facilitating homework is a basic skill of a CBT therapist; therefore, it is an important part of supervision. 19 , 20 , 26 Homework needs to be carefully assigned and discussed ( Box 1 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Not Completing Homework with an Anxious Patient

Kazantzis et al 28 advise examining the therapeutic relationship, which significantly impacts therapy adherence, to better comprehend non-cooperation with homework assignments. Data illustrating the therapist’s homework competence and the therapy outcome 29 , 30 show that the therapist is primarily responsible for their patients’ adhering to or failing to do homework. CBT therapists exhibit many interrelated automatic thoughts, assumptions, and behaviors during sessions that affect homework use in therapy. 8 , 15 In training, common negative attitudes for therapists include: “Homework will make patients feel like school and resent!” “They will feel too controlled and limited!”; “Homework will increase some ps’ sense of vulnerability!”; or “Homework will be even more stressful for stressed patients!” Another widespread belief is that the “structure” of CBT, whose homework is important, reduces spontaneity and worsens the therapeutic relationship. 15

In addition, there is some scientific support for these views of therapists’ attitudes toward homework concerning the therapeutic process. 31 The result of these attitudes is either a complete avoidance of homework assignments in a way that is not effective and consequently maintains these beliefs. 8 For example, common behaviors require supervision, such as rapidly discussing directions at the end of a session, neglecting to repeat homework, or failing to justify while designing homework. 9 The CBT Homework Project proposed a practice model 29 that emphasizes the importance of therapist beliefs, therapist empowerment, cognitive conceptualization, and the therapeutic relationship in enhancing homework practice. 23

Theoretical and empirical support for homework assignments in CBT leads most practicing CBT therapists to at least accept in principle that regular and systematic homework assignments will benefit their patients. 8 As a result, CBT therapists favour assigning homework in therapy. However, many beginning therapists encounter problems when they start designing homework (ie, selecting tasks and discussing them with the patient), assigning homework (ie, collaborating on practical aspects of completing homework), and repeating homework in sessions. 32 Incorporating homework into therapy is often superficial, hasty, poorly done, or forgotten. 16 Therefore, problems with using homework in therapy are a common supervision agenda of practicing CBT therapists.

Personal Training and Self-Reflection of the Therapist as a Supervision Intervention

CBT training students are encouraged to conceptualize the patient’s lack of homework and promote awareness of their own beliefs and responses to non-cooperation in the CBT conceptual framework. 8 Suppose the therapist fails to develop this awareness. In that case, errors in clinical judgment may occur, adversely affecting the therapeutic relationship and course of therapy. 33 Self-exercise (practicing CBT techniques and interventions as a therapist) and self-reflection (ie, process reflection) are concepts developed by Bennett-Levy et al, 34 to operationalize a useful understanding of own processes in working with patients. CBT training students are asked to become accustomed to using self-exercise and self-reflection. In a few qualitative studies, self-exercise and self-reflection have proven to improve the therapist’s self-concept, ie, self-confidence, perceived competence in one’s abilities and belief in the effectiveness of the CBT model. 34–36 Calvert et al 37 study checked the use of meta-communication in supervision from supervisees’ perspectives using the Metacommunication in Supervision Questionnaire (MSQ). There were differences in the reported frequency with which the different types of meta-communication were used. It appears that meta-communication around difficult or uncomfortable feelings in the supervisory relationship occurs less often than other components of meta-communication. 1

Below are examples of self-exercise and self-reflective exercises. The following self-assessment is developed to shape thinking before a preliminary meeting with a supervisor. Earlier knowledge has shown that supervisees and supervisors do not always share common ideas about supervision. Therefore, the supervisee could finish this self-assessment as a homework exercise before supervision. A supervisee might want to identify conversation matters that may enable a supervisor to better comprehend their requirements and needs.

Before Starting

Questions regarding previous and desired experience in supervision.

What background information do you think your supervisor requires to understand you at the start? (This may include a curriculum vitae noting appropriate previous experience). What would be the best method to convey these details? Is there any distinction between what you desire from this placement and what you feel you need? What background details about this placement and this supervisor do you have? How does this make you feel? Exists any more information that you need? What do you want and expect your supervisor to concentrate on during supervision? What roles do you want your supervisor to play with respect to you and your work? What supervisory media do you want to experience (for example, taped, “live”, or reported)? What do you intend to do about your feelings? Consider how you feel about your supervisor evaluating your work at the end of the positioning process.

More Specific Questions

  • What specific activities during supervision do you recall as being helpful?
  • What conditions would be most convenient for you?
  • What would you personally anticipate getting from being supervised?
  • However, what would you want to receive from supervision prepared that will not be on offer?
  • What could you do about this?

Several possible tough issues can appear in supervision. The following list includes concerns the supervisee might consider ( Table 1 ).

Difficulties in Previous Supervisions (Adapted According to Scaife 2019 38 )

In the next step:

  • Recognize the two issues which seem to be the most important ones for you.
  • What steps can be taken now to minimize the chances that these two concerns will seriously disrupt your cooperation?

Reflection on the Strengths

What are the top three strengths you want your supervisor to uncover as you enter this supervisory relationship?

List 3 points for your development that may or might not be obvious to your supervisor.

Reflection on Difficulties

Therapists regularly discover face-to-face contact with people labelled by society as coming from a specific sub-group.

Which sub-groups make you feel uneasy for whatever reason? Do you want to address this during supervision? 38

Examples of Self-Assessment in the Supervision Process

Exploring sources of stress from clinical work.

Check all that resonate for you. 39

❑ Perfectionism ❑ Fear of failure ❑ Self-doubt ❑ Need for approval ❑ Emotional depletion ❑ Unhealthy lifestyle

Which of them seems to have the greatest impact on your stress levels?

What supervisor has most regularly identified as weak points in your clinical work?

Processing Mistakes

When mistakes are processed in ways that lead to reflection, flexibility, and adjustments in how you function, it can result in learning and growth.

Consider a patient you are now working with (or have recently worked with) with whom you have experienced a therapeutic failure.

Answer the following questions while keeping this experience in mind:

  • What are the signs of a therapeutic failure? How can you be certain that what you are doing is not beneficial on some level? What benefits might your patient derive from failure? When did things begin to deteriorate? Which initiatives have been most effective so far, and which have been least effective? How have you been careless?
  • Examine your intervention choices as well as how they were carried out:
  • What concerns or considerations did you overlook? What is impeding your ability to be more effective? How has your empathy and compassion for this individual been harmed? How can you use this experience to help you grow?

Reflection of Therapeutics Mastery Skills

Favorite techniques.

  • Explain three things you have put off in your career or life because they appear risky—you have something to lose and gain.
  • Which therapeutic strategies or interventions stimulate you the most?
  • What would you call your “hidden weapon”?
  • What kind of patients or presenting difficulties interest you the most?
  • What would it take to incorporate more of the pleasure and satisfaction you receive when applying the strategies mentioned earlier into other aspects of your work? 39

The following examples from clinical supervision demonstrate how self-exercise and self-reflection can help participants understand their belief system’s impact on homework in CBT.

Supervision of Homework in Therapy

Supervision is classically mandatory for students in cognitive behavioral training and plays a crucial part in therapist development. 2 The typical structure of continuous supervision of one patient includes discussing questionnaires or scales used to measure the severity of the problem (like the Beck depression inventory), homework, events in therapy since the last session, and then discussing the agenda of the current supervision meeting (what will be done in the session, which problem will be addressed), work on a selected issue or problems, homework assignment, session summary and its evaluation by the supervisor. The supervision focuses on homework twice – first as a part of the supervised therapy and second as a part of the supervision itself ( Box 2 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Patient´s Homework During Supervision

Whether and how the patient completes homework is a common supervisory issue ( Box 3 ). The therapist often complains that the patient refuses to do homework or rarely does it. 8 , 16

Recording of Paul’s Automatic Thoughts

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is PRBM-15-3809-g0001.jpg

The picture describes the vicious circle of countertransference reaction, where automatic thoughts lead to developing negative emotions, bodily reactions and behaviors. Any vicious circle components can alert the therapists that their countertransference reaction is taking place.

Case Vignette –Discussion of Setting Homework During Supervision

Homework in Supervision

Homework assignments are a common part of supervisory work. These may involve the patient’s management (eg noticing on their recording how often the therapist strengthens the patient and how and if it is rare to clarify where reinforcement would be appropriate), working on oneself (eg clarifying experiences and attitudes that lead to countertransference in a particular patient, awareness of which other patients may also occur) and theoretical study (the supervisor may advise the therapist to read a professional text that can help better understand and work with the patient). 40

The supervisor helps define a specific engagement, discusses specific therapeutic methods, touches on what methods the therapist has used and what else they may consider the role, for the most part, the implementation of strategies whose ability to use in therapy under supervision will be planned, as part of homework.

Homework assigned in supervision usually deals with mapping problems (supplementing the conceptualization of the case, evaluation, vicious circle of the problem with the patient, etc.), monitoring certain behaviors (mostly communication with the patient), or implementing new, behaviors in therapy (usually using therapeutic strategies). 12 Homework teaches the supervisee to work on self-reflection outside the supervision meetings. 41 Discussing the homework properly at the beginning of the session is important. The mentioned home exercises usually concern the work with the supervised case report of the patient. The basic questions concern homework results, discussing the obstacles in solving them and what the supervisee learned in homework. 8 The discussion gives the supervisor case management information and can point to important practice moments.

Homework Assignment

Before the end of the session, the supervisor and the supervisee agree on a homework assignment. It is optimal when homework arises from a problem addressed in the session’s main part. 8 At the beginning of supervision, proposals for homework assignments usually come from the supervisor and are discussed and recorded in writing. 40 During supervision, the supervisee creates homework assignments, and the content is discussed with the supervisee.

The Meaning of Homework

Homework must make sense for the supervisee; otherwise, he will have no motivation to do it. However, it is also important to make sense of the patient or patients and develop the therapist’s skills and competencies. It is desirable to discuss the meaning of homework in supervision.

Possible Difficulties When Completing Homework

It is advantageous to discuss the anticipated difficulties in completing homework. This has the advantage that the supervisee can prepare for possible difficulties, consider overcoming them and consult with the supervisor. Discussing difficulties helps the supervisee model and later develops the skill to discuss the patient’s homework difficulties.

The Impact of the Therapist’s Belief System

In some therapists, there can be reasons for a more complex level of conceptualization. 42 That is important when the therapist repeats certain mistakes even though they have repeatedly discussed them with the supervisor. At a directly accessible level, the situation with the patient can be described using a vicious circle. The deeper “hidden” level refers to the core beliefs and conditional rules activated in a specific situation with the patient. 40 , 43 A supervisor can use the “falling arrow” technique to map core beliefs and conditional assumptions. 43

One such way is the Therapeutic Belief System (TBS). 44 TBS is a theoretical model useful for understanding the specific beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors that therapists and patients commonly experience that could potentially affect the course of therapy. In line with the cognitive model, TBS provides a framework for identifying therapists’ and patients’ beliefs about themselves, each other, the treatment process, the emotions these beliefs can evoke, and typical behavioral reactions. For example, a therapist may see a patient as an “aggressor”, a “helpless victim”, or a “collaborator”. The participant’s own beliefs may supplement these beliefs about himself, such as “victim”, “co-worker”, “carer”, or “rescuer”. Homework assignments may be perceived by both the therapist and the patient as “hopeless”, “productive”, or simply maintaining the status quo and lead to a different emotional and behavioral response. 8 Thus, TBS can be introduced into supervision to guide the supervisee to consider whether he or she identifies with any of the therapists’ typical beliefs and behaviors outlined in the model. A simple awareness of such patterns can be a useful orientation when considering the role of attitudes and beliefs in integrating homework ( Box 4 ).

Case Vignette – Discussion About Supervisee Homework

The scheme broadly refers to mental structures that integrate and give meaning to events. 45 Schemes can be positive, negative or neutral. In CBT as a treatment for psychological disorders, we focus on dysfunctional patterns often associated with specific diagnostic presentations (for example, emotional vulnerability patterns are common in anxiety disorders). Schema is generally defined as a ubiquitous topic of cognitive functions, emotions, physiological feelings about oneself, and relations with others. 33

Therapists’ schemes run in specific therapies and do not usually signal mental health problems. 8 Therapists’ schemes are influenced by the following factors: training experiences, such as supervision and training phase, therapy model, peer group, clinical experience, and personal experience. 13 , 40 Once identified, the therapist’s scheme can be used in supervision as a starting point to discuss some of the practitioner’s views that may interfere with therapy. 8 Completing structured questionnaires can identify participants’ schemes, basic beliefs, and assumptions. Some examples of useful questionnaires are the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, 46 the Personal Faith Questionnaire, 47 the Young Schema Questionnaire 48 and the Therapists’ Schema Questionnaire. 49 Leahy’s Therapists’ Scheme Questionnaire is a relatively straightforward screening technique for identifying therapeutic patterns that could affect a therapeutic relationship. It consists of 46 assumptions related to the 14 most common therapeutic regimens.

Certain schemes are particularly common in CBT supervisees. These include “demanding standards”, “excessive self-sacrifice”, and “special superior person”. 49 Training therapists who identify with the “demanding standards” scheme have a somewhat obsessive, perfectionist, and controlling approach to therapy. These therapists usually have high expectations for keeping a patient’s homework and may not realize that non-compliance with homework is often part of the learning process. Therapists may expect that there is a “right” way to complete a homework assignment, leading to feelings of frustration when assignments produce different results. This may signify insecurity and a notion that if things break from the planned structure, the therapist will be exposed as “incompetent”. Many therapists identify with the “excessive self-sacrifice” pattern, the most commonly observed pattern in both novice and experienced therapists. 33 Leahy 49 proposes that these therapists overstate the importance of their patient relationships. They may fear leaving or feel guilty that they are or feel better than the patient. As a result, the therapist may engage in therapy-defeating behaviors, such as making the homework assignment to the patient’s various needs, having difficulty with appropriate assertiveness in discussing persistent patient non-cooperation, and having a tendency to avoid techniques. Such as exposure or opening of painful memories for fear that the patient will be upset.

Novice therapists who identify with the “special superior person” scheme see the therapeutic situation as an opportunity to achieve excellent results and have high-performance expectations. There may be a tendency for the patient to idealize or, conversely, to devalue or distance himself from patients who do not improve or do their homework. The presence of a “special superior” scheme can be seen as overcompensation in response to “demanding standards” and “excessive self-sacrifice”, which have the thematic connotations of “not being good enough”. The supervision session sets the supervisee in a situation where the supervisor supervises homework through videotaped therapeutic sessions utilizing a cognitive therapy scale (CTS). 50 Feelings of superiority and exceptionality can, in some cases, be a way of dealing with the feelings of inferiority that they experience, that their use of homework is judged in this way.

In addition to recognizing the general responses to the scheme that most training students encounter, the supervisor should help the supervisor become aware of his or her idiosyncratic beliefs and coping styles, which some patients may trigger ( Box 5 ). The supervisor should encourage the supervisee to pay special attention to the “overlapping patterns” in which the therapist’s scheme and the patient’s scheme overlap, leading to the over-identification of the therapist with the patient. 33

Case Vignette – The Supervisor Advises the Therapist to Work with Core Beliefs and Conditional Rules

Homework in Supervisor Training

For supervisors, their supervisors’ training is important. An important part of this training is the practice of self-reflection, which should be requested directly in the meeting and as homework. It can be a task to capture situations in supervision in which they do not feel comfortable using the vicious circle, cognitive restructuring of automatic negative thoughts in these situations, capturing thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and behaviors in situations where they are aware that they are experiencing countertransference reactions to the supervised therapist. It is also important that in their homework, they reflect on their concentration level during supervision sessions and consider what supervision skills they have used or what they have learned for the next session. A typical complex homework in supervision training is a video recording of supervision sessions and their analysis. The recorded supervision and analysis are then analyzed in the next supervision training meeting.

This article is designed as an overview of views and experiences. Its important element is work samples. This is also a limitation of this article. Assignment of homework in supervision and therapist and supervisor training lacks scientific information about its effectiveness. Nevertheless, assigning homework is an important part of cognitive behavioral therapy. We know quite well about its meaning in prescribing for patients. Less is known about their meaning and effectiveness in supervision. The supervisee encounters problems completing homework assignments for her patients that she brings to the supervisee. Why the patient does not complete the homework may be his problem, but his therapist may also have a part in it his requirements, which include how the homework is assigned, its suitability for the given patient, timing, and complexity. Homework can also belong to the training of supervisors and the supervision of supervision. Here, we do not know any research evidence about their effectiveness in using the most important part of supervision, the patient; however, they are experienced by supervisors and supervisees as useful and meaningful.

Homework in supervision and supervision requires further reflection on their meaning and subsequent research, which should examine their significance for the supervisee’s competence (supervisee) and the ultimate impact on the patient himself.

Homework presents one of the cornerstones of cognitive-behavioral therapy, CB supervision and the training of CBT supervisors. If applied consistently and collaboratively, homework enhances therapeutic outcomes and increases the patient’s self-confidence. Setting and maintaining a fruitful working alliance for homework can be challenging – issues with homework present one of the common reasons to seek a supervisory consultation. Supervision then focuses on examining the specific case and experienced problems, factors in the interaction between the therapist and their patient, and the therapist’s automatic thoughts, schemas, and behaviors that might maintain the issue. There are several ways to address this topic in supervision. Homework is usually part of supervision because of its usefulness. The supervised therapist may be given similar tasks as the patient receives in therapy: to describe the automatic thoughts that occur to him while guiding the patient, to test them and look for a more rational response, to conduct behavioral experiments, to clarify the core beliefs and conditioned assumptions that influence the formation of the therapeutic relationship, experiments with adequate communication with the patient and others. A therapist’s self-experience through practice can help them improve their therapeutic work.


This paper was supported by the research grant VEGA no. APVV-15-0502 Psychological, psychophysiological and anthropometric correlates of cardiovascular diseases.

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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Homework vs. Assignment — What's the Difference?

what is a commonplace homework assignment that you receive

Difference Between Homework and Assignment

Table of contents, key differences, comparison chart, compare with definitions, common curiosities, can homework be considered an assignment, can assignments be collaborative, do all assignments count towards final grades, what is an assignment, are assignments only given for completion outside of class, is homework effective in improving academic performance, how much time should be spent on homework, why are assignments important in education, how does homework differ from classwork, what is homework, what role does feedback play in assignments, do assignments help in learning beyond the classroom, how can students manage homework effectively, why might some students struggle with assignments, what strategies can teachers use to make assignments more effective, share your discovery.

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5 Common Homework Assignment Misses and How to Avoid Them


The pressure of a perfect homework score can overwhelming, so there is something to be said for embracing mistakes as a learning opportunity. However, there is also a strong case for avoiding errors when you can. Some mistakes are common and easily avoided. Here are five things that will hurt a homework score, and how you can coach your student to steer clear of them.

1. Ignoring Instructions

Perhaps the most common mistake of all is ignoring assignment instructions. Whether the homework is language, math, or science related -- if your student doesn't fully understand the instructions, mistakes are almost inevitable. The first step of completing homework should always be reading (not skimming) the instructions.

2. Overusing the Thesaurus

Stuffing an essay with technical jargon or too many five-dollar words won't necessarily make it better. In fact, it may signal to a teacher that the student just combed the thesaurus for big words rather than spending time making a thoughtful argument. Use a thesaurus or dictionary when needed, not as a crutch.

3. Failing to Proofread

A wonderful essay could still lose points if there are misspellings and formatting errors. Every piece of homework should be proofread at least once before submitting. Pro tip: Reading aloud makes it easier to catch grammatical errors.

4. Forgetting to Reference Properly

Plagiarism can happen accidentally. Any time a student references the idea of another author, even if it's not a direct quote, there should be a citation. The best way to avoid missing a proper reference is to include citations along the way. If the student tries to remember where the citations go when they finish the essay -- they could easily forget one.

5. Running Out of Time

Assignments completed right before the due date sometimes have more mistakes. Time management is a crucial part of turning in an accurate homework assignment. Make a homework schedule and stick to it.

Homework assignments are a big part of any student's grade. You can help your young learner improve their scores by setting aside ample time and encouraging them to pay attention to the details.

Get started with a plan for your child today.

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