If there’s one thing you’ll hear from any high school student taking an AP class (AP stands for advanced placement), it’s that the extreme amount of work is a killer. Some may argue that the entire point of an AP class is to give more work to learn more in a short span of time, but I refute this. The way I believe an AP class should be dealt with is through more learning, rather than more work.
One theme that tends to be common among AP classes is a task known as “busywork”. Busywork is code for unnecessary assignments that serve only to kill time. Busywork will never provide you with new material, and only occasionally will it improve your skills and knowledge. As classes get harder and more is expected of students, busywork becomes a more common task. Teachers may assign busywork as a way to occupy the students during excess class time, or solely as a filler when it comes to presenting said students with a letter grade.
I feel that busywork holds one of the problems with AP classes at face value – it is a waste of time. It is important to take multiple advanced classes throughout high school, but overworking yourself is always a problem. With teachers assigning excess busywork to students attempting to take many advanced classes at the same time, it stresses out the student and reduces the overall quality of their work.
Sometimes, the curse of busywork is unavoidable. No matter what you do, you’re going to end up with some busywork in your AP classes. The best approach would be to advise your teacher to lower the amount of busywork, and instead create assignments that will better your knowledge. One good way to do this is to assign review. Reviewing substance covered in class an entire semester ago will help to reinforce the roots of learning in a student’s brain.
In a class such as APES (AP Environmental Sciences), there’s a lot of material to cover throughout the year. There is not nearly enough time to learn everything in the textbook, so AP teachers may resort to rushing through the material and giving a ton of busywork as a way to teach the topics.
A major issue with busywork is that it may lead to students cheating on their assignments. If given a simple fill-in-the-blank worksheet or asked to write paragraphs for simple questions, students may resort to simply copying what another student has written, in order to save time and avoid unnecessary stress.
Here lies the biggest problem with busywork: it leads to cheating. Cheating on a simple homework assignment that accounts for a minimal percentage of your grade may not be a huge sin, but the domino effect caused by said cheating is detrimental. A good student who is crunched for time ends up copying a friend’s worksheet. That good student has never cheated before, but at this point has given up their academic integrity. Now that the student has realized how convenient it is to cheat on a small homework assignment, they may consider cheating on a test too to save time. If they cheat on a test, who knows how else they would cheat? They might plagiarize an essay next.
As described in this article, “While most students agree that cheating on tests is wrong, and most refrain from doing so, the same is not true for dishonesty on homework assignments. Many students feel that cheating on “busywork” is not morally wrong because they believe it has no effect on their knowledge of the subject or their future in the class.” With students now feeling no remorse and justification of cheating on basic homework assignments, an entire array of cheating options can now become prevalent in their peripheral vision.
It makes sense to minimize the busywork assigned to students, in order to avoid any issues with cheating or lack of integrity. Students will feel less stressed, they will feel less of a need to forge their papers, and the overall benefit is greater than the negative.