Homework! What, Why, How？ : Primary school English teachers’ attitudes towards and use of homework in China.
Abstract: This study aims to investigate the attitudes to English homework held by teachers of primary school (Grades 4-6) in Mainland China, through an online survey. After obtaining 112 responses and analysing them by utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods, the results found that English teachers in China have a unified positive attitude towards homework and its effect. English homework is most commonly assigned once a day. Repetition or Exercise is the most popular type of assigned homework, and it is overwhelmingly preferred by the teachers, followed by Preparation and Reading. The respondents stress that homework has an indispensable connection with the scheduled school teaching. Through assigning the correct volume of homework, students can develop positive habits with regards to self-study, and therefore students can improve their academic performance in examinations. A combination of both oral and written feedback is utixlised the most. Follow-up of homework usually appears to be two-dimensional; material stimuli such as penalty copy and self-correction, and immaterial stimuli such as encouragement and criticism. All of the evidence shows that China’s particular education system reflects Skinner’s behaviourist theories of learning, meaning that students’ behaviour with regards to acquiring knowledge can be shaped by frequent and random reinforcement, and this behaviour will eventually persist in the long-term even in the absence of reinforcements.
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