Full disclosure: I hate homework. I hate setting it. I hate grading it. I hate remembering to do all those things.
I don’t mind “read ahead” or “see this video” as homework and I don’t mind “ok, we didn’t all have enough time to finish this off so see what you can do at home with it” but they’re not homework-homework. They’re just lesson extensions.
With one of my classes, I am trialling something new. I stole the idea from @TeacherToolkit. At the start of the year, I handed out a sheet with some different homework tasks that will help me get feedback on how things are going for my students.
I have a score sheet (displayed publicly), where I make a note of how many points they have. The points more-or-less correspond to how much effort I think my students would need to complete it. My competitive, gamer students (who tend to be the ones least engaged by homework), have all gone for the high-end tasks. My conscientious (but busy), students have gone for the lower points because they have a lot on. If they want to do 10 point tasks exclusively, that’s still valuable feedback about their understanding.
It is early days but it seems to be working well because the students have control over the amount of work they can expend on their homework, and there are no surprises. I am also getting a lot of great information about next steps for me and my teaching.
In fact, the experiment is going so well I want to introduce it to my other classes.