by John Spiri
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan
Homework has become an institutionalized aspect of schooling for students from primary school through university. The reasons given to defend assigning, encouraging or forcing students to complete homework almost exclusively refer to academic achievement as opposed to encouraging student autonomy or increasing motivation. Moreover, few studies that seek to ascertain whether homework is effective or desirable ask students to comment or evaluate its place in education. The present study describes an independent learning system (ILS) assigned to students at a science & technology university in Japan. A key feature of the system was an independent learning journal, which each student kept to record her week to week efforts in studying English from various language learning websites provided by the instructor. The ILS is designed to offer students greater autonomy, introduce CALL (computer assisted language learning), and encourage lifelong learning. A survey given to students showed that both first- and second-year students expressed a preference or strong preference for ILS over traditional homework.
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