It’s not where you start—it’s where you end up.

In real life, there is no “E for effort.” People are evaluated, and progress, based on how well they do. At Foundry College, we think education should be the same way.

Mastery-based education means that you'll master every skill before moving on. It’s motivating to see your progress, and it’s attractive to employers because it provides solid evidence that you have what it takes to succeed on the job.

A More Efficient Path to Mastery

Foundry College courses meet twice per week for 90 minutes each, and there's no prework or homework assigned. Hands-on activities and focused, engaging lectures help you master new skills and knowledge efficiently so you can fit learning into your busy life.

No Pre-Class Preparation

Research shows that many students don’t complete pre-class reading—so our instructors share all essential material during live lectures.

Put Learning Into Practice

After each lecture, you'll break out into small groups to put learning into immediate practice—ensuring that you master new skills and knowledge efficiently.

No Homework Assignments

Each class ends with a quiz to confirm that you understand the material and can apply it in workplace situations.

Mastering Three Levels of Capabilities

Foundry College characterizes skills and knowledge at three different levels—nano, mini and macro. Each group of nano capabilities builds into a mini capability, and each group of mini capabilities builds into a macro capability. You'll acquire capabilities in steady, intentional sequences, making progress in every class session.

Nano Capabilities

Specific capabilities, such as finding the source of a claim

Mini Capabilities

More general capabilities, such as evaluating source quality in news reports

Macro Capabilities

General capabilities, such as detecting fake news (a type of critical thinking)

Evaluating Mastery

Foundry College doesn’t give grades—you'll have either “mastered” a course or are “in progress.” Although this approach is similar to the traditional concept of pass/fail, a “pass” at Foundry College means more than just getting by: you'll demonstrate a deep understanding of the material and ability to consistently apply skills and knowledge into practice.

To master a course, you must have either passed or completed six attempts on each of the end-of-class quizzes, taken the Mid-term Assessment, and received a 100% on the end-of-course Mastery Assessment; and/or passed all required assessments specific to credential courses.

In Progress

You'll complete a quiz at the end of every class. If the quiz is not passed after two attempts, you'll need to do work outside of class in order to review and master the material.

US Marine Corps soldier working on laptop. The model is wearing an official US Marine corps Marpat BDU uniform.

Supporting Student Success

Foundry College courses are designed so that all required material can be learned in class, with no pre-work or homework. However, we understand that you may occasionally need extra time and support to master certain skills or knowledge. We inlcude one-on-one personal coaching and one-on-one academic mentoring to help you succeed.

Get the Most from Your Education

no homework college

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Former Harvard dean launches a college with no homework

Is higher ed broken? That’s the question on a number of minds as colleges face a range of financial challenges and demographic changes.

In response, one higher ed leader is stepping away from the traditional higher education model to create a for-profit, two-year online college intended to provide working adults with a more “career-focused” education.

Stephen Kosslyn—former Harvard University dean and founding dean of alternative institution Minerva Schools —will launch Foundry College in January 2019. 

At Foundry College, students will earn an associate degree in business management with a focus in either customer service and sales, healthcare administration, or systems and service management. The goal is to teach students “automation-resistant” job skills for management positions, including clear communication, practical problem solving, and critical analysis.

“There are 46 million adults in the U.S. with some college and no degree, many of whom are particularly susceptible to labor automation,” said Kosslyn in a statement. “By identifying what humans can do better than machines—and then effectively teaching these ‘future-proof’ skills and knowledge—Foundry College can help both working adults and their employers to adapt and thrive as the labor force changes.”

Meet the 3 distinct student populations in the online market

Unlike traditional online colleges or vocational programs, Foundry College will not require students to do any work outside of the two 90-minute class periods per week. “It’s something we call the ‘contained classroom,'” says Kosslyn.

The college will use the competency model and classes will be taught via synchronous video. Students will also have access to free coaches and tutors for help outside of the virtual classroom.

The first cohort of students will attend Foundry College for free. For subsequent students, tuition will cost about $12,000 for the full two years.

Kosslyn says he hopes Foundry College will quickly expand after its first year of operation, adding that the college will admit all students who qualify for the program. Rather than a high school diploma or even a GED, qualifications will include free assessments and applications “to help us ensure that you are set up with the right type and level of support during the program,” according to the FAQ.

According to Marie Cini, president of the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning , the program is part of a broader trend of experimentation with the higher education business model. “This country is ripe for some new models where we just completely rethink how education is delivered,” She says. “This particular model might work, or it might not work, but I’m just happy to see that there are new models coming forward” (Schaffhauser, Campus Technology , 10/10; Young, EdSurge , 10/11).

Related: Ask these 3 questions to design student-centric credentials

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College can still be rigorous without a lot of homework

no homework college

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California

Disclosure statement

KC Culver does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

University of Southern California provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

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How hard should it be to earn a college degree?

When the book “ Academically Adrift ” appeared in 2011, it generated widespread concern that college was not effectively educating students and preparing them for today’s world. Among other things, authors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa claimed that most colleges were not rigorous or demanding, in part because college students were not reading and writing enough in order to build their critical thinking skills. But is it really how much work students are assigned that makes college rigorous and helps them learn?

As a scholar of higher education , I have taken a close look at college students’ academic experiences and outcomes for several years. Some people define rigor as how many pages a student reads or how many pages a student writes. But in a 2021 peer-reviewed study that I published with colleagues John Braxton and Ernie Pascarella , I found that if they do that, they might miss key elements of what it takes to help students develop critical thinking skills and become lifelong learners. They also might create an unnecessary burden for students who have other demands on their time.

What is rigor?

In education, academic rigor tends to be defined in two different ways : as a workload that is demanding and difficult or as learning experiences that challenge and support students to think more deeply.

Given the importance of critical thinking, the way rigor is defined makes a big difference in terms of the ways that the general public – as well as administrators, policymakers, journalists and researchers – assess if a college is rigorous. It also makes a difference in terms of faculties’ expectations for students, the types of classroom activities they use and the assignments they give.

In other words, if rigor means workload, then students who spend a lot of time studying should become better critical thinkers. In contrast, if rigor means academic challenge, then students who practice higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis and evaluation , during class, on assignments and during exams should become better critical thinkers.

That’s why my study examines each definition of rigor – workload and academic challenge – in terms of helping students develop critical thinking skills. The study also looks at those definitions of rigor in relation to two related dimensions of lifelong learning. One is reading and writing for pleasure, and the other is the habit of thinking deeply and critically about things.

The college difference

The study included about 2,800 students who attended one of 46 four-year colleges in the U.S. between 2006 and 2012. These students took part in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education , which was a large, longitudinal study of how college experiences affected outcomes associated with a liberal arts education. They completed surveys and tests at three different points during college: at the beginning of their first year, at the end of their first year and at the end of their fourth year.

In these surveys, students reported their course workload, including how many books they read, pages they wrote and hours they spent studying for class. They also reported how much their courses challenged them to engage in higher-order thinking. Faculty ask students to practice higher-order thinking when they ask challenging questions in class and give assignments that ask students to analyze information or form an argument.

Since the Wabash National Study measured students’ critical thinking and lifelong learning skills at multiple timepoints, my study looked at how much students developed these skills in relation to their workload and the academic challenge of their classes. Of course, students who are motivated to get good grades may be more likely to develop these skills. And lots of other college experiences, like interacting with faculty outside of class or being in an honors program, might also make a difference. My study accounts for these factors in order to better understand the unique influence of each definition of rigor.

What matters

Here’s what we found.

In the first year of college, higher-order thinking was related to an increase in both dimensions of lifelong learning: reading and writing for pleasure and the tendency to think deeply. Higher-order thinking was not related to development of critical thinking skills. Workload was not related to students’ critical thinking or either dimension of lifelong learning.

Across four years of college, higher-order thinking was related to an increase in students’ critical thinking skills and both dimensions of lifelong learning. Workload was related to only one dimension of lifelong learning: reading and writing for pleasure. This relationship was driven primarily by the amount of reading students did, rather than the amount of writing they did or the amount of time they spent studying.

Perhaps most importantly, my study suggests that students learn important critical thinking and lifelong learning skills because of challenging class experiences regardless of the workload. In other words, college can help students be better critical thinkers and lifelong learners without requiring them to spend a lot of time studying.

[ You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter .]

Implications for colleges

This study has implications for how courses and colleges are assessed as being rigorous. It also has implications for how faculty teach, as it suggests that they should create courses that engage students in higher-order thinking, rather than asking them to complete long reading and writing assignments.

These implications matter particularly for students from low-income backgrounds, who are more likely to work full-time during college. Low-income students are also more likely to commute to campus and have family responsibilities .

Because of these responsibilities, students from low-income backgrounds often have less time to dedicate to homework compared to students from wealthier backgrounds who live on campus and who don’t work as many hours. This creates an opportunity gap in students’ ability to be successful. A 2018 report from the Pell Institute shows that low-income students graduate at much lower rates than students from higher-income backgrounds.

If campuses want students from low-income backgrounds to graduate at the same rate as their peers, then it is important that these students have a reasonable workload in their courses so that they don’t have to choose between college and their other responsibilities.

  • Higher education
  • Future of Higher Education
  • Critical thinking
  • US higher education
  • College students
  • Higher ed attainment

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School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students

The Pros and Cons of Homework


Homework is a word that most students dread hearing. After hours upon hours of sitting in class , the last thing we want is more schoolwork over our precious weekends. While it’s known to be a staple of traditional schooling, homework has also become a rather divise topic. Some feel as though homework is a necessary part of school, while others believe that the time could be better invested. Should students have homework? Have a closer look into the arguments on both sides to decide for yourself.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

Photo by  from  Pexels

Why should students have homework.

  • Homework Encourages Practice Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career .
  • Homework Gets Parents Involved Homework can be something that gets parents involved in their children’s lives if the environment is a healthy one. A parent helping their child with homework makes them take part in their academic success, and allows for the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in school. It can also be a chance to connect together.
  • Homework Teaches Time Management Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills , forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.
  • Homework Opens A Bridge Of Communication Homework creates a connection between the student, the teacher, the school, and the parents. It allows everyone to get to know each other better, and parents can see where their children are struggling. In the same sense, parents can also see where their children are excelling. Homework in turn can allow for a better, more targeted educational plan for the student.
  • Homework Allows For More Learning Time Homework allows for more time to complete the learning process. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.
  • Homework Reduces Screen Time Many students in North America spend far too many hours watching TV. If they weren’t in school, these numbers would likely increase even more. Although homework is usually undesired, it encourages better study habits and discourages spending time in front of the TV. Homework can be seen as another extracurricular activity, and many families already invest a lot of time and money in different clubs and lessons to fill up their children’s extra time. Just like extracurricular activities, homework can be fit into one’s schedule.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

  • Homework Encourages A Sedentary Lifestyle Should students have homework? Well, that depends on where you stand. There are arguments both for the advantages and the disadvantages of homework. While classroom time is important, playground time is just as important. If children are given too much homework, they won’t have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning. Studies have found that those who get more play get better grades in school , as it can help them pay closer attention in the classroom. Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.
  • Homework Isn’t Healthy In Every Home While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad .
  • Homework Adds To An Already Full-Time Job School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.
  • Homework Has Not Been Proven To Provide Results Endless surveys have found that homework creates a negative attitude towards school, and homework has not been found to be linked to a higher level of academic success. The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements. It can be a challenge to really enforce the completion of homework, and students can still get decent grades without doing their homework. Extra school time does not necessarily mean better grades — quality must always come before quantity. Accurate practice when it comes to homework simply isn’t reliable. Homework could even cause opposite effects if misunderstood, especially since the reliance is placed on the student and their parents — one of the major reasons as to why homework is bad. Many students would rather cheat in class to avoid doing their homework at home, and children often just copy off of each other or from what they read on the internet.
  • Homework Assignments Are Overdone The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however. On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework . By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.

The pros and cons of homework are both valid, and it seems as though the question of ‘‘should students have homework?’ is not a simple, straightforward one. Parents and teachers often are found to be clashing heads, while the student is left in the middle without much say.

It’s important to understand all the advantages and disadvantages of homework, taking both perspectives into conversation to find a common ground. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is the success of the student.

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Should Students Have Homework?

no homework college

by Suzanne Capek Tingley, Veteran Educator, M.A. Degree

A student stares down a huge stack of homework.

Look before you leap at giving to much or to little homework.

It used to be that students were the only ones complaining about the practice of assigning homework. For years, teachers and parents thought that homework was a necessary tool when educating children. But studies about the effectiveness of homework have been conflicting and inconclusive, leading some adults to argue that homework should become a thing of the past.

What Research Says about Homework

According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades. He recommends following a "10 minute rule" : students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 additional minutes each subsequent year, so that by twelfth grade they are completing 120 minutes of homework daily.

no homework college

But his analysis didn't prove that students did better because they did homework; it simply showed a correlation . This could simply mean that kids who do homework are more committed to doing well in school. Cooper also found that some research showed that homework caused physical and emotional stress, and created negative attitudes about learning. He suggested that more research needed to be done on homework's effect on kids.

Further reading: Get Homework Done and Turned In

Some researchers say that the question isn't whether kids should have homework. It's more about what kind of homework students have and how much. To be effective, homework has to meet students' needs. For example, some middle school teachers have found success with online math homework that's adapted to each student's level of understanding. But when middle school students were assigned more than an hour and a half of homework, their math and science test scores went down .

Researchers at Indiana University discovered that math and science homework may improve standardized test grades, but they found no difference in course grades between students who did homework and those who didn't. These researchers theorize that homework doesn't result in more content mastery, but in greater familiarity with the kinds of questions that appear on standardized tests. According to Professor Adam Maltese, one of the study's authors, "Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be."

So while many teachers and parents support daily homework, it's hard to find strong evidence that the long-held practice produces positive results.

Problems with Homework

In an article in Education Week Teacher , teacher Samantha Hulsman said she's frequently heard parents complain that a 30-minute homework assignment turns into a three-hour battle with their kids. Now, she's facing the same problem with her own kids, which has her rethinking her former beliefs about homework. "I think parents expect their children to have homework nightly, and teachers assign daily homework because it's what we've always done," she explained. Today, Hulsman said, it's more important to know how to collaborate and solve problems than it is to know specific facts.

Child psychologist Kenneth Barish wrote in Psychology Today that battles over homework rarely result in a child's improvement in school . Children who don't do their homework are not lazy, he said, but they may be frustrated, discouraged, or anxious. And for kids with learning disabilities, homework is like "running with a sprained ankle. It's doable, but painful."

Barish suggests that parents and kids have a "homework plan" that limits the time spent on homework. The plan should include turning off all devices—not just the student's, but those belonging to all family members.

One of the best-known critics of homework, Alfie Kohn , says that some people wrongly believe "kids are like vending machines—put in an assignment, get out learning." Kohn points to the lack of evidence that homework is an effective learning tool; in fact, he calls it "the greatest single extinguisher of children's curiosity that we have yet invented."

Homework Bans

Last year, the public schools in Marion County, Florida, decided on a no-homework policy for all of their elementary students . Instead, kids read nightly for 20 minutes. Superintendent Heidi Maier said the decision was based on Cooper's research showing that elementary students gain little from homework, but a lot from reading.

Orchard Elementary School in South Burlington, Vermont, followed the same path, substituting reading for homework. The homework policy has four parts : read nightly, go outside and play, have dinner with your family, and get a good night's sleep. Principal Mark Trifilio says that his staff and parents support the idea.

But while many elementary schools are considering no-homework policies, middle schools and high schools have been reluctant to abandon homework. Schools say parents support homework and teachers know it can be helpful when it is specific and follows certain guidelines. For example, practicing solving word problems can be helpful, but there's no reason to assign 50 problems when 10 will do. Recognizing that not all kids have the time, space, and home support to do homework is important, so it shouldn't be counted as part of a student's grade.

Further reading: Balancing Extracurriculars with Homework in High School

So Should Students Have Homework?

Should you ban homework in your classroom? If you teach lower grades, it's possible. If you teach middle or high school, probably not. But all teachers should think carefully about their homework policies. By limiting the amount of homework and improving the quality of assignments, you can improve learning outcomes for your students.


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{{article.topic}}, {{article.title}}, suzanne capek tingley.

Suzanne Capek Tingley

Suzanne Capek Tingley started as a high school English/Spanish teacher, transitioned to middle school, and eventually became a principal, superintendent, and adjunct professor in education administration at the State University of New York. She is the author of the funny, but practical book for teachers, How to Handle Difficult Parents (Prufrock Press). Her work has appeared in many publications including Education Week, and her blog, Practical Leadership, was featured on the Scholastic website. She has been a presenter and consultant, and with Magna Publications she developed videos on demand highlighting successful strategies for classroom teachers. Among her honors is a Woman of Distinction Award from the New York State Senate. She is a strong believer that all kids can learn and that teaching requires art, skill, and a good sense of humor.

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No homework? What’s happening to our education system?

Over the last few years, I’ve seen a rapidly growing trend against homework take hold in US schools — both public and private.  Highly acclaimed public school districts have even been rumored to give this fad a whirl.  The theory, I’ve heard, is that students would benefit more from 15 minutes per day of reading and a good night’s sleep than homework. ​Albeit, I can’t argue that a well-rested student is necessary to ensure successful learning in the classroom, but I’m not sure when these responsibilities became mutually exclusive or when we stopped expecting children — and adults — to read as a simple part of daily life. 

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