GEVIRTZ HOMEWORK PROJECT
PROJECT INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Vishna Herrity
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCHER: Sugely Chaidez
The three-year implementation and research of the Gevirtz Research Center’s Homework Project in the Santa Barbara Elementary School District resulted in the adoption of the model in the Santa Barbara Secondary School District at Santa Barbara Junior High School and Dos Pueblos High School. The Gevirtz Research Center has collaborated with the UC Santa Barbara Office of Academic Preparation and their Pathways Program. The Center coordinates the implementation of the Gevirtz Homework Center, after-school tutorial program, at Dos Pueblos High School.
Student support services are offered to low-income youth from diverse backgrounds. Underserved students in grades 9-12 with varying GPAs are enrolled. Dos Pueblos students participating in the Pathways to College Program of the UCSB Office of Academic Preparation are especially targeted for recruitment. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend a college or university. In addition to homework assistance, students participate in monthly college preparation and student enrichment activities. The “Gevirtz Tutorial” serves as a 7th period class for program participants. Therefore, if the attendance requirement is met (minimum three times per week), students earn five credits per semester.
Goals and Objectives
The Gevirtz Homework Center has three specific goals:
The objective of the Gevirtz Homework Center is for students to gain the necessary skills to understand and complete challenging homework assignments, prepare themselves for daily academic success and become motivated to succeed both in high school and beyond.
The Gevirtz Homework Project’s theory of action is founded upon research-based practices. The center believes that 1) youth must participate on a regular basis in order to achieve best results, 2) qualified and trained adult professionals must be involved to maintain project integrity and appropriate oversight, and 3) peer tutors/mentors must form relationships with youth so that they are supported and motivated by role models who are very much like themselves. The homework project is dedicated to supporting positive youth development and to engaging peers to foster social skills.
The homework project’s philosophy includes strategies and activities to promote responsible social and recreational involvements, educational awareness, college preparation, academic achievement, and access to higher education. The unique aspects of the program include:
- College students serve as tutors and mentors. University students advise participants on their personal academic experiences and the importance of effective homework habits for increasing college going opportunities.
- Services are provided to a diverse population of students. Underprivileged students in grades 9-12 with varying GPAs are serviced in the Homework Center. Student diversity lends to an environment that fosters peer teaching and mentoring (partner/group work). Moreover, this climate encourages a sense of belonging, builds friendships and trust among participants. These relationships may allow for more full participation in other school clubs and sports and classroom activities.
- Enrichment workshops. Workshops are conducted each month in the homework project. These workshops provide students with the necessary skills to excel in high school and college. Guest speakers are invited to present their expertise on various academic achievement strategies. Topics include: Study skills, note taking, test taking strategies, time management and goal setting.
- High school credits toward graduation. Students earn five high school credits each semester towards graduation. The Gevirtz tutorial serves as a 7th period class for program participants. Therefore, if the attendance requirement is met (minimum three times per week), students earn five credits per semester.
- Guidance in the college process. Students are assisted in the college admissions process both in class and outside of the classroom. In class, staff assists students with personal statements, scholarship essays and transcript analysis. Occasionally, sessions are held outside of the classroom at the school computer lab for training in online application process (i.e., college financial aid application).
- Nutritious snacks. After a long day of classes, nutritious snacks are provided for students during the homework tutorial every day (which is their 7th period). Students highlight these as an attractive part of their tutoring experience.
Tutoring sessions take place directly after school, from 2:45 to 3:45, in a classroom at Dos Pueblos High School. Students are required to attend a minimum of three times per week, and are asked to complete and return academic progress reports on a monthly basis. Nutritious snacks ensure that students can concentrate on their homework assignments.
Multiple measures were used to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of the homework project. Data were collected continuously from different sources throughout the academic year. Measures were selected to assess eight areas related to the implementation and outcomes of the homework project: (a) student attendance, (b) academic performance, (c) future expectations, (d) school bonding, (e) self-efficacy, (f) classroom readiness behavior, (g) homework completion, (h) parental involvement, (i) students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the program, and (j) tutor/mentor experiences. A graduate student researcher assisted with data collection.
Quantitative date included pre- and post-surveys, progress reports and bi-annual data. Qualitative data included an end of year open-ended survey and interviews with students, teachers and an administrator. Findings from the qualitative analysis were triangulated with the quantitative results.
The study found that during the course of each semester, the Gevirtz Homework Center becomes a comfortable and safe place for students to gather together and study. The sense of belonging they experience here builds trust and friendships among participants. These relationships often foster participation in other school clubs, sports, and activities.
The confidence Homework Center students gain from mastering assignments and going to class prepared is a powerful motivator to do well in school and to view school in a positive light. One student said, “I get the help that I need here. Sometimes I don’t have time to do it at home and there are distractions there... also it’s better to have a time set apart to do your homework.”
The study also indicates that Gevirtz School students help tutees build educational aspirations by providing information about the path to college and making the prospect of college seem more familiar and attainable. Undergraduate and graduate students demonstrate the link between homework, grades, college admission and life opportunities.
Recent evaluation findings reveal the following:
Students Attitudes toward Schoolwork
The survey data indicated that two items related to homework completion were statistically significant. The student data indicated that they were completing more homework and were better prepared to do their schoolwork after the program. The interview data provided in-depth information about the students’ changes in their attitudes toward schoolwork. The majority of students reported that by attending the homework project they hoped to gain more study skills, better grades and improve their test scores. The interview data indicate that they understand the importance of homework for academic achievement. A ninth grade, female student said, “Homework helps me understand the material more and become a better student.” Another student defined homework as “review what you did that day…a good way to study…a good way practice what is taught in class.”
Students know homework is beneficial to their academic career so they come to the homework project to gain skills, practice what is taught in class and, overall, to become better students. What is most attractive to students about the homework project is a quiet environment, the helpful teachers and tutors, and of course the snacks. Moreover, most students do not have a study environment at home to complete homework. They have domestic responsibilities, run errands with their parents, or simply have many distractions.
-9th grader, male
- “Sometimes I wouldn’t turn in my homework, because I wouldn’t get it. So here I can ask for help, so I can finish my homework and turn it in.” – 10th grader, male
- “Lack of parent academic assistance at home… Parents are supportive of GHP”
Communication, Self-esteem, and College Expectations
-9th grader, male