Just how many problems do we need to assign to understand where the learning needs of our classes fall? While looking at the Survivor Algebra site, I found this:
“So... have you noticed that I don't give a huge number of homework problems? I definitely do NOT assign the 100 problems that appear in the typical math text. Not even the 50 odd problems! That's just way too many and really not necessary at all. Students with 50 problems to do are overwhelmed and so worried about being able to just finish end up working to and don't pay attention to what they are doing. They don't stop to smell the roses! Have students do 5-10 problems (pick important ones). Explain to them that you want them to do them slowly and thoughtfully. They are to take their time and pay attention to the details. This will greatly relieve their anxiety and, yes, they WILL learn the material even better. If you really still want to assign those obnoxiously difficult problems that appear at the end of those long textbook sets, I suggest that you do it during their tribe group time. Just be aware that, if you get the kids too freaked about all those "special cases" and freakish things that can happen, they may not "get" the basics... And getting the basics is far more important!”
This reminded me of different conversations I have had with other math teachers in the past. I recently had a discussion with our Title I teacher over the right amount of work a student needs to complete to show learning and/or the need for the teacher to revisit. I agree with the thinking above, but wonder if I am giving enough practice for students to pass the many tests they will take during their school careers. I know that 5 – 10 problems for most lessons is sufficient and students can pass my quizzes, chapter tests, and unit tests. I usually don’t have students in the juvenile facility for long enough to do midterms. The unit tests do show that they retain and can apply the learned information for up to 3 months.How do you feel about the amount of practice, assigned problems, or homework algebra teachers need to assign? Does anyone know of any research articles on the topic?