School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Gail Collins


homeschooling, self-efficacy, scaffolding, cultural capital, socialization, STEM, online education, synchronous, asynchronous, persistence, self-regulated learning, virtual labs




The number of homeschooling families in the United States has rapidly increased since the 1970s, and in particular since the COVID-19 pandemic. This influx of families has brought differing motivations for homeschooling and expectations for curriculum. Online course implementation has been linked to improved self-efficacy, as well as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career selection. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand how homeschool parents utilize online courses as scaffolding to improve self-efficacy in their children as a means of college or career preparation. The theories guiding this study were Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and Bruner’s scaffolding theory. Participants included 12 homeschool parents who used online courses as curriculum. Data collection consisted of individual interviews, focus groups, and journal prompts. Data analysis utilized Moustakas’ process to include horizonalization, clustering into themes, and synthesis of essences. Five themes emerged from the data, including curriculum choice, communication, ownership of learning, college readiness, and viability. The implications of these findings were determined to be intentionality in online course selection, providing support rather than help, and developing lifelong learning skills. The implications for policy and practice include improving communication within online courses, focusing on the development of study skills, and offering smaller synchronous online courses to better emulate the authenticity of a traditional course.

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