Is suggested homework the way of the future?

Gracie Cox, Opinions Editor

With the start of a new semester came a major change for LO’s Precalculus students. Following the example of AB Calculus classes, math teachers Dina Wood and Bradley Woebke began assigning recommended homework for their Precalculus students instead of the typical required homework. This came as a surprise to exhausted students such as myself who spent hours toiling away on the bookwork questions and is greatly appreciated by students overwhelmed with work for other classes. But, with practice preparing us for tests no longer being required, does recommended homework ultimately benefit students or is it more of a short term reward?

Wood shared her justification for the change: “First, with Slader, PhotoMath and other apps that work problems out for you, checking homework sometimes seems senseless as some students just copy the work from these apps. Second, it provides a little relief for students who may have a busy night with sports or other activities and may have to stay up late into the night to finish an assignment before class. With the suggested homework, students can work on the assignment when they have the time to really make sure they understand the material… Some students may not need to do all the problems if they understand the topic.”

As a Precalculus student myself, I see where the teachers are coming from, but I also struggle to do the suggested homework. I’ve always struggled with completing work that won’t actually be checked over, or that isn’t graded. Attempting recommended homework is a different experience than doing required homework before because when I get stuck on a particularly difficult problem, I tell myself that I’ll come back to it later when I’m in a better headspace, and end up completely ignoring the problem that soon pops up on the next quiz or test. This is completely my own fault, but I also wonder if there are students like me who suffer at the hands of suggested math homework.

This may be a permanent change if it proves to be successful. As Precalculus teachers have already seen it benefit their students, I expect that it will be.

For those who have to force themselves to complete their suggested homework like me, I suggest giving yourself small rewards for each section of questions answered and explaining to yourself that doing the homework will be most beneficial in the long run. I tend to think of school in short-term increments, and shifting towards viewing my academic life in the weeks and months to come has had a vast positive impact on my performance as a student.

So, overall, I support the transition to recommended math homework. Despite my rough start, the new policy has changed me for the better and allows students to prioritize their classes and commitments. I’m all for testing out alternative teaching methods (as long as they’re at least somewhat successful, of course), and math is a great place to start.