School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Gail Collins


differentiated instruction, homeschool, sociocultural theory, success


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Methods


The purpose of this instrumental multiple case study was to understand how a select group of homeschool parents in the U.S. defines success as it pertains to their children's education, and how their ideas about success influence the learning environment that they established. The study examined the cases of eight homeschool families from the perspective of Vygotsky's sociocultural theory. I used Tomlinson's methodology of differentiated instruction as the conceptual framework, and I examined the cases with particular emphasis on this framework's primary pedagogical constructs of content, process, and product. I collected data through an open-ended questionnaire, interviews with the parents, primary educator interviews, and a focus group. I coded and analyzed the data using methodological approaches proposed by Stake (1995, 2006) so that I could paint textual pictures of each of the individual cases and present an aggregate portrait of all participant cases. The findings revealed that homeschool families' definitions of success are comprised of academic proficiency, love of learning, ability to think critically, communication skills, healthy relationships, strength of character, and spiritual security. With regard to the learning environment, the findings further revealed that, in order to accomplish these goals, these families focus on curriculum choice, involvement with external educational resources, integration of subjects, teaching to the child's strengths, discussion and questioning, mastery of subject matter, independence, and practical application.