promoting science at primary level
4.4 Homework for Students .1 The Purpose of Homework
4.3.3 Information Technology for Interactive Learning
With teacher guidance, IT can become an effective tool through which students can learn. It can support a more student-centred pedagogy inside and outside the classroom. Students can use the Internet for searching out information and resources. IT also allows students to collect, process and present information efficiently when doing projects or conducting investigations.
At present, using IT in the learning and teaching process of GS is becoming more and more common. Schools should adhere to the suggestions in The Third Strategy on IT in Education, “Right Technology at the Right Time for the Right Task”, so as to enhance the effect of using IT for interactive learning. Please browse the following website for details :
Teachers are encouraged to use a variety of student-centred learning strategies (e.g. project learning) so that students are provided with opportunities to use IT to acquire and construct their own knowledge. Opportunities should also be given to students to organise and present their ideas or assignments with the support of IT in class, so that the use of IT skills becomes a useful means to learning and sharing knowledge and not an end in itself.
There are many learning and teaching activities that will develop students’ IT skills in GS.
There are examples of different learning strands provided in EDB “Depository of Curriculum-based Learning and Teaching Resources” website at
Teachers can decide how to use these resources based on the facilities and cultures of the schools.
4.4 Homework for Students
❖ consolidate students’ learning outside formal class time
❖ help students understand their own progress and identify areas for improvement
❖ extend classroom learning and prepare students for new learning
❖ assess students the knowledge they have acquired and the skills, attitudes and values they have developed
❖ allow parents and schools to work together to find ways to help students improve or to develop their potential further
4.4.2 Setting Meaningful Homework for General Studies (i) Some general principles
❖ Homework for students should be in line with the enquiry-based approach to learning and teaching of GS. The emphases are put on stimulating students’ interest and enhancing enquiry elements in learning.
❖ Dictation is not encouraged in the learning and teaching of GS.
Teachers should avoid turning homework into dictation assignments for students. Students should be engaged in interesting and challenging tasks through which generic skills and positive values and attitudes can be developed.
❖ Pen and paper assignments should not be the only type of homework for students. Teachers should avoid relying solely on the GS workbook produced by the same publisher of the textbook as the only source of homework for students.
❖ Teachers should consider the needs and interests of students at different levels when setting homework. For example, students of lower primary classes may use drawings or simple diagrams and oral presentation instead of writing to express themselves in learning topics such as “emotions” and “use of leisure”.
❖ Parents can be involved in students’ homework to help improve their children to learn more effectively. For example, students may be asked to record their time spent on exercise and rest in a week. Parents can play a part in helping to observe whether their children have
developed healthy living habits in this respect. This not only allows parents to know better what and how their children learn but also enables teachers to know how students have applied what they have learnt in real settings.
❖ Teachers should consider the family background of students when deciding on the type of homework to be assigned. This applies particularly to homework which involves the use of IT and project learning, of which students are required to purchase specific equipment/materials or pay for visits/excursions. Teachers should ensure that no students are under-privileged on doing their homework due to their family background.
❖ Appropriate amount of homework should be assigned to keep students inspired and wanting to do homework. It should not overburden students, or be used as a punishment. Teachers are requested to refer to Booklet 8 of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - Building on Strengths (2002) concerning the amount of homework to be given for students.
❖ There may be short-term or long-term assignments. Short-term assignments usually help students review and practise what has been covered in class or prepare for a new lesson. Long-term assignments such as projects require students to plan their pace of work, delve into issues that interest them, and integrate information, ideas and views.
(ii) Types of homework in terms of their functions
❖ For consolidation of learning:
This type of homework helps students to reinforce what they have learnt and apply knowledge and skills in similar situations to deepen understanding. It may include interpretation of information, observation and recording of data/changes, e.g. of weather conditions after learning about “the seasons”. Routine mechanical repetition such as copying information from textbooks or other sources does not serve the purpose. Some open-ended questions and hands-on activities should be included to help students construct knowledge and develop creativity.
❖ For extension of learning:
This may include students’ self-learning of a new topic related to
themes covered in class, reading a book and reporting to others, and conducting in-depth study of a topic or an issue. For example, after learning about electricity, students are given the homework of designing and making a battery-operated toy car. Students of higher ability may even go further to identify a topic of their own interest and design simple experiments to illustrate different effects of electricity on the functions of the toy car.
❖ As preparation for new learning:
Teachers can ask students to collect information from different sources in order to prepare themselves for the study of a new topic, e.g. searching for information on the problem of traffic congestion or housing problem in Hong Kong, organising and presenting it to the class. Students can also deliberate on the focus questions for project learning.
❖ Multiple functions:
Project learning as homework for individuals or for groups helps to integrate different tasks and skills in the GS context. Teachers may refer to Booklet 3C of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - Building on Strengths (2002) or Section 4.2.2 of this chapter on details of project learning.
4.4.3 Guidance and Feedback on Homework
❖ Teachers should provide clear instructions and guidelines on what is expected of students when assigning homework.
❖ Students should be given sufficient time for completing the homework.
❖ Clues may be provided to students who have difficulties in completing the tasks.
❖ Parents or guardians can be informed of the extent of participation they are expected to give to their children in doing homework, in particular for projects. In case students persistently fail to do homework, teachers should take prompt action in collaboration with the parents or guardians to solve the problem.
❖ Concrete and positive feedback is important in assisting students to review and improve their learning. Specific comments given timely, e.g. on-line
feedback to different stages of project work, are useful means to the end.
Merely giving marks or grades to students’ homework cannot show them how to improve.
❖ Peer and parent’s feedback on homework may provide impetus for improvement. Through giving feedback to peers, students also learn to assess their own performance.
(For details of homework policy, refer to Booklet 8 of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - Building on Strengths (2002))