Teachers will always face students who do not do their work. I had an experience where I assigned a 50-word essay to my students and told them to submit the essays after a week. What overwhelmed me was out of 24 students, I received only 5 essays. I was furious. However, I thought that I should give them a second chance so I gave them another dateline which was two days after. But I got more furious after that. When I received another 19 essays, 16 of them were copy-pasted from the Internet. I was disappointed and devastated. I told my students about how I felt and they felt guilty about it so I asked them what their excuses were. It was simple “We don’t like homework, Teacher.” Then, I realized that some students just do not like homework. Therefore, I have tried several alternatives to overcome this problem.
1. Easiest = homework. Hardest = class work.
Students do not like it when they have to do exercise if they do not know how to do it. The more difficult they find the task, the easier they want to put the work aside.
Hence, give homework about the topics that they have learnt about. They will be more interested to at least try to do it since they already have the knowledge. It would be best if you assign homework on the latest lesson as this improves the likelihood of them knowing how to do it. This tip is more suitable for students who are easily discouraged to complete the work by the reason ‘I do not know how to do it’.
2. Assign interesting work.
Just how important it is for you to conduct interesting lessons in class, the same goes to the work you assign to the students. You can use the students’ preferences/interests as the influencing factor in assigning tasks to the students. Make them collaborate with their friends, give them freedom to use their creativity in completing the work that you have given. Once the students are interested in the work, there’s a high chance that they will do their best to complete the tasks.
3. Give appropriate amount of work.
As teachers, you have to know your students’ ability, level of perseverance and patience. If you give too much homework to the students who are barely interested in completing any work, you might not receive anything in return. Hence, assign tasks that the students will be able to do, do not give them any excuse to not do it.
4. Set realistic due dates.
I learned from my previous experience that when my students were desperate to complete the task that I gave them within a short period of time, they tend to use shortcuts, they cheated and they copy-pasted from the Internet. This is when they started to lie, willing to break my trust for the sake of completing the work. Thus, when the work is supposed to make them learn and comprehend more, it just made them lie to themselves. The main factor for this to happen is because of the duration to complete the work that I have assigned. From that moment, I give my students ample time to complete the work that I gave.
5. Show them how they benefit.
Although it is hard to make the students see the importance of the work assigned to them, we have to try it. Intrinsic motivation is very much needed to achieve this. It is not hard to instil this belief in independent learners, they can realize it on their own. The problem comes with students who are dependent on their teachers. They will think that the work is to satisfy the teachers, not for them. Try to rationalize the significance of having extension activity after the lesson to the students.
It is not easy to deal with students who have different personalities, preferences and needs. We will find a variety of attitude towards learning as long as we teach. Thus, I hope these tips will help you to find ways to deal with students who are reluctant to do the work that you have assigned to them.
While you are on it, there are antiquated teaching methods that are still propagated by some teachers. Are you doing any of it in your classes?
Accounting, Business Studies, Economics & Financial Literacy
BA(Hons) Finance, Accounting & Management, Sunway University
Chartered Accountant, ACCA.
Yuventhiran Nadarajan is a father, husband, speaker and entrepreneur. But he is best known among students and parents alike as an educator. Teacher Yuven believes that the current schooling system is outdated beyond measure and is the last piece of surviving antiquity in our fast-paced ever-changing world.