A naturalistic investigation of homeschooling parents as adult learners
Disselkoen, Dennis L.
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The grounded theory research method was used to investigate the approaches to learning employed by parents who homeschool their children. The purpose of this study was to build theory about homeschooling parents as adult learners. Data were gathered by means of interviews, a focus group, and observations of the researcher. The first core category to surface was Development of Nexus. Homeschooling parents do not function in isolation. Development of Nexus begins before parents reach a decision to homeschool, and it continues throughout their homeschooling endeavor. It is the homeschooling parent's sine qua non. A second core category that emerged was Dialectical Self-Awareness. Participants expressed awareness of their learning preferences and their personal strengths and weaknesses. However, awareness of certain likes and dislikes, traits, and behaviors came as a surprise to participants. They came to realize that they thought, acted, and responded differently than they believed they would under certain conditions. Their self-awareness was set off against and complemented by self-surprise. Moreover, participants were aware of changes they had undergone and of traits they had developed as a result of their learning. They acknowledged personal transformation throughout their learning. A third core category that became apparent was Deploying of Strategy. Participants identified and made use of strategies to succeed in their learning. They also utilized strategies for dealing with barriers to learning and for skill acquisition. Organizational skills, multitasking, and use of technology-aided homeschooling enabled parents to learn quickly and to overcome the frustrations of having to manage other home and family responsibilities. Homeschooling parents learned to deal with obstacles to their learning, their emotions, and to identify possible resources to use in overcoming those obstacles. These parents went through a self-directed learning cycle that included implementing strategies and evaluating outcomes. A model of the cycle was developed and several recommendations for further research were offered.