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An exploration of the use of homework as teaching and assessment strategy in the Foundation Phase : the case of three Durban North schools

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Homework in general is defined as schoolwork assigned to learners for completion at home. Teachers assign homework to consolidate what was taught during the class or to provide some consolidation tasks for learners. South Africa, being a developing country, has high levels of resource inequality and family structures are often unstable, with either one or both parents not being present. This can contribute to children not getting the home support that they need. This focus of this study was to explore the utilisation of homework as a teaching and assessment strategy in the Foundation Phase. This study adopted a case study methodology, with the case being schools located in the North of Durban. The following research methods were used to generate the data: semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis. Both these methods were utilised in order to generate the rich, thick data required in qualitative research. The sampling procedure considered appropriate for this study led to the selection of six grade three teachers. These teachers came from three different schooling contexts, i.e. a former Model C school, a former House of Delegates (Indian) school and former Department of Education and Training (African) school in a township. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed poor administration of homework by teachers. Most teachers assign homework in the Foundation Phase for the sake of giving it, in accordance with school policy. Learners do not benefit much from doing homework as generally teachers do not give any feedback, and complain about having no time to do this. Homework does not feature in the plans and time-tables for teachers. Moreover, Listening and Speaking periods are being used for assessment of learners’ homework. It was also clear that teachers work in deprived schooling contexts, where learners have no parental support to complete their homework tasks. There was also very little variation in the type of homework that was allocated to learners; all learners were mostly allocated the same homework, regardless of their learning barriers. Based on these findings, the study fundamentally asks whether the assignment of homework to younger learners is worthwhile, and also calls for more work in this area.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood.