Practice can be provided via homework in two ways, single-skill or cumulative . Single-skill assignments are appropriate when students are mastering the taught skill itself; cumulative assignments are valuable when students are learning to determine which skill to use and then applying it. The example about teaching a math algorithm is a single-skill format. If the assigned homework included the newly learned algorithm along with some previously learned skill, it would be considered cumulative. Cumulative practice is critical for skill maintenance and is included in any model of effective teaching practices. Skill maintenance is especially difficult for students with LD.
6. Even the title of their article reflects this: They ask “When Is Homework Worth the Time?” rather than “ Is Homework Worth the Time?” This bias might seem a bit surprising in the case of the study’s second author, Robert H. Tai. He had contributed earlier to another study whose results similarly ended up raising questions about the value of homework. Students enrolled in college physics courses were surveyed to determine whether any features of their high school physics courses were now of use to them. At first a very small relationship was found between the amount of homework that students had had in high school and how well they were currently faring. But once the researchers controlled for other variables, such as the type of classes they had taken, that relationship disappeared, just as it had for Keith (see note 2). The researchers then studied a much larger population of students in college science classes – and found the same thing: Homework simply didn’t help. See Philip M. Sadler and Robert H. Tai, “Success in Introductory College Physics: The Role of High School Preparation,” Science Education 85 : 111-36.