The Active Versus Passive Voice in Homework

The Active Versus Passive Voice in Homework
“Do your Homework?” is a common sales pitch for many online and offline courses. The idea is to get the learner through the material using the least amount of effort, while maintaining an orderly, sequential presentation. It’s a popular method among instructors for courses taught on subjects such as English composition, grammar, and language. In fact, many instructors have a “Do your Homework” slogan or logo in their classroom to promote the ease with which their students get through their assignments.

This type of instruction often results in frustrated students dropping out or completing courses with very little progress. Many instructors start their courses with a bang: they teach the student what to do and expect the student to do it. The result is a lesson plan filled with half-finished projects, quizzes, writing assignments, and quizzes. The only way to motivate a student to get moving is to show him or her that the work is coming along and that the payoff will be satisfactory. For that reason, a good instructor needs to understand the difference between what gets a student to do his or her homework and what actually motivates a student to do it. Here are some tips for doing just that.

When you ask to do your homework, this is a clear request. The question puts the student in the position of asking the question. If the student’s mind drifts to other matters or to the next assignment, he or she will lose focus and won’t be able to get through the rest of the coursework. Instructors need to stay clear and focused on the task at hand. Using this voice as a prompt draws students back to the task at hand.

Answering do your homework? with this voice differs from asking, “Do your homework?” in a mixed-up manner. Because the first sentence of the mixed-up question puts the student in the position of asking the question, the student might start talking normally, but then slip back into active voice. If the instructor avoids using the active voice all together, then the student will likely forget about the class entirely.

A question asked with active voice gets the student to do what has to be done. In other words, it gets the student to take an active part in completing the homework. Using this voice for do-it-yourself homework can help ensure that the student actually does what needs to be done when the time arrives. Again, the instructor needs to stay clear and focused on the task at hand.

Another reason why many instructors avoid answering do your homework? This is because they have no idea how to begin an explanation. They may try to go too fast with the explanation or skip important details. This could mean that the student does not fully understand what exactly he or she needs to do in order to pass the course.

An instructor also cannot get into a discussion with a student about do your homework? That is not his or her job. That is the instructor’s job. The instructor should teach the material and then lead the students through the steps necessary to complete the course successfully. There is no need to address do your homework?

Instead, the instructor must do the homework. And that means allowing the student enough time to complete it. There is no need to rush through the course. The passive voice is very effective for explaining to do it yourself materials to students, even if the instructor uses more active voice.

When you are teaching, do it yourself materials, do not assume that the student understands what you are saying. Students struggle when they are expected to do work without any direction. Using the active voice in do it yourself materials encourages the student to do his or her homework. In other words, the active voice asks do you do your homework? and the passive voice answers do your homework?

Students need to know why they are being asked to do homework. In other words, the instructions do not just say do it, but explain why they need to do it. If the instructions do not provide information about why the student needs to do the work, then do not ask, do not tell. Just provide the instructions.

Do it yourself courses are very effective teaching tools. They can help you reach your goal for college success. However, effective teachers do not assume that they know everything about every student. To teach effectively, you must always be willing to learn. It is not enough to do your homework, students need to know why and how you are doing it. The best teachers encourage their students to do their homework with them.

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