Comments on “Relationships of Parental Homeschooling Approaches Including Technology Integration” by Letitia Walters

PERSPECTIVES – News and Comments [1]

Comments on “Relationships of Parental Homeschooling Approaches Including Technology Integration” by Letitia Walters

Brian D. Ray

National Home Education Research Institute, Salem, Oregon, USA, bray@nheri.org

 

The variety of topics related to homeschooling has clearly accelerated over the past decade. Letitia Walters’ (2015) new study, Relationships of parental homeschooling approaches including technology integration., is just one example. She examined four factors involved in parental selection of homeschooling approaches. They were (a) parental motivations for selecting homeschooling approaches, (b) parental motivations for homeschooling (c) technology devices used by the child, and (d) instructional technology integration.

She collected data from 228 homeschool parents who were from 12 U.S. states. Their median household income was about $60,001- $70,000, and they were fairly evenly geographically distributed between city, town, and rural residences. The formal education level of about one-third of them was “vocational/technical or some college” and about 40% had a bachelor’s degree.

Parents were asked to rate how frequently their child uses various technology devices. They were, listed in descending order of frequency of usage, laptop computer,  desktop computer, smartphone, iPad, Kindle/tablet, and iPod.

The five most frequently cited reasons (of nine reasons) for homeschooling were, in descending order, provide religious and moral instruction, the match between my values and the (pedagogical; e.g., Charlotte Mason, classical education, unschooling) approaches’ values, concerns of school environment, dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools, and the approach matched your family’s religious beliefs.

One research focus was on the frequency of instructional technology applications combined with contextual matter. “The following averages of student usages of instructional technology integrations are listed in order from highest to lowest [of twelve choices]: conduct research, learn or practice drill skills, solve problems, analyze data, …” (p. 72).

Four of the six technology devices were positively correlated with pedagogical approaches, but the magnitudes of the correlations were practically quite small.

“Bivariate correlations were conducted to examine if there was a significant relationship between parental reason for choosing homeschooling and using educational technology during instructional times. Contrary to the hypotheses, no significant correlation was found except a significant, positive relationship between computer-based programs and instructional technology integration …” (p. 63) and the magnitude of it was relatively weak.

These homeschool families came from a variety of socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, similar in distribution to those in most quantitative studies done on homeschooling over the past 30 years. Walters, however, presented some new insights based on an area of research not much touched. For example, she found the following: The relationship between dissatisfaction with academic instruction and traditional homeschooling approach supports the research with parents who want to individuality for the child yet using a similar approach. Also, the relationship confirms the idea that the two types of homeschoolers, ideologues, and pedagogues, are reductive (Valery, 2011).

Second, “… a partial correlation was found between parent’s choice of homeschooling approach(es) and the used technology devices utilized by the learners” (p. 74). She concluded that “the usage of these technological devices, this study supports research and presumes a prerequisite for correspondence and computer-based methods such as part-time charter, voucher, and virtual schools. Possible age ranges of the child parents are reporting on may have an effect on the results” (p. 74).

Perhaps Walters’ most wide-ranging conclusion

will be of interest to most general observers of the homeschooling community and what they think of and how they use technology; it follows:

The statistics of this research imply that technology device(s) usage is not significant with the chosen method, except with the correspondence schools approach. Implications are made for possible future homeschoolers that technology devices are used in all homeschooling methods with some degree of variance and according to the values and beliefs of the homeschooler. (p. 76)

Before this study, there was very little research done on homeschoolers’ use of technology. Walters added to that limited research base. Here “… intent was to create initial literature by identifying relationships between parent’s knowledge of the types of technology devices used and instructional technology usages integrated with recognized homeschooling approaches,” and she did so.

 

 

References

 

Walters, Letitia A. (2015). Relationships of parental homeschooling approaches including technology integration. Doctoral dissertation (Ph.D.), The University of Southern Mississippi.

 

Endnote

 

1. The “Perspectives – News and Comments” section of this journal consists of articles that have not undergone peer review.