There is much concern today about the low academic achievement of American high school and college students. Why do students who were educated in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan do so much better than students educated in the USA? One of the answers is homework. Many American teachers do not collect and grade homework. Their students seem to reason that if homework is not important enough to be graded, then it is not important to be completed. Asian teachers, on the other hand, frequently spend hours grading homework each day, and Asian students spend hours doing homework each day.

I assign a lot of work in each class I teach. In some classes I collect and grade homework assignments, while in other classes I give quizzes at the beginning of each class meeting which are based upon previous class work and assigned homework. We discuss a lot of the assigned work in class, but more detailed discussions of your individual work, you need to come see me during office hours(on Blackboard).

When I look at the solution to a mathematics problem which was written by a typical high school or beginning college algebra student, I usually see numbers and symbols; arithmetic and algebra. Sometimes I find a statement of the problem, but more often students seem to assume that I already know what problem they are solving, so they leave that out. Some students show their work, and others just write answers. Rarely do I find words and pictures to illustrate the problem and solution. Often the answer to an applied problem is expressed a numeric form such as "2" or maybe "x = 2." Far too few students provide an interpretation for their solution, such as: "The altitude of the triangle will be 2 centimeters long." (And of course many students completely skip the types of applied problems which would require an answer of this sort!)

When I grade student work, whether it is a homework assignment, quiz, or test, I am looking for answers to the following basic questions:
   What is the problem and does the student understand it?
   What strategy has the student employed to solve the problem?
   Has the student employed that strategy correctly?
   Has the student found and interpreted complete and accurate answer(s) to all parts of the problem.

For many (but not all) problems I also ask students to explain how they solved the problem and how they verified that their answers are is complete and reasonable. For more information on the subject of homework, be sure to read the homework policy section. Remember that most of the homework this semester will be computer-based, but this does not mean that you should try to do everything in your head!  Get in the habit of writing down each problem and working carefully through all of the steps.

For information about study skills, please keep reading.