After the frustratingly low levels of student participation in my courses last fall I implemented a form of discussion questions in the spring semester that was designed to hold students accountable for class preparation while directing their reading to some specific topics that were relevant to the day’s discussion. In general, it seemed to work, so I am using them again this semester. While I require students to bring a copy of their answers with them to class (either handwritten or typed), some students type their answers but then have issues that prevent them from printing them before class. In these cases, students often e-mail them to me. Other than the fact that they won’t have their answers to refer to in class, I don’t have a problem with this practice. What I do have a problem with is the fact that, when sending them, students often refer to them as “homework.”
I realize that the difference between “discussion questions” and “homework” is largely semantic but, to me, discussion questions imply a student actively preparing for class, while homework implies busywork. The thing is, I don’t want students to see discussion questions as busywork. It is nice that they are preparing for class, but I hope that at least a few of them actually enjoy engaging with the material.
they’re discussion questions, not homework!
See the subject.