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Computer use in home school families

, Harvard University, United States

Harvard University . Awarded


This exploratory study attempts to answer (1) what home school families hope to achieve with computers; (2) how they use the computer in home schooling; and (3) how their educational beliefs and methods shape their computer use.

Data collection included face-to-face interviews with 24 volunteer home school families and observation of their computer use. Data analysis consisted of transcribing tapes, coding transcripts and writing up memos. Both contextualizing and categorizing techniques were used to examine each family's computer use and educational beliefs, and to find general patterns of computer use among all families.

This study found that home school families expected to use the computer to gather educational resources and information, to motivate their children's learning, to train their children's problem-solving skills, and to teach computer literacy. In addition, this research identified eight ways in which these families actually used the computer in home schooling, including: (1) supplementing home school instruction; (2) supplementing home school research; (3) using multimedia for multiple representation of information; (4) initiating student-centered learning; (5) improving children's writing; (6) disseminating home school information on the Internet; (7) e-mailing for support and socialization; and (8) participating in online learning groups on the Internet.

Based on their different educational beliefs and instructional strategies in home schooling, the 24 interviewed families were categorized into three groups: Multischooling, Unschooling, and Bookschooling. These groups were found to differ in their computer use in the following five areas: (1) use of the Internet; (2) use of software; (3) parental control over computer use; (4) use of e-mail for student's writing; and (5) use of the computer for conducting research. These differences were attributed to the different educational beliefs upheld by each group.

The result of this research can shed light on how the computer is used in home schools, and help both educators and parents better integrate computer resources into home education.


Chen, E.J. Computer use in home school families. Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University. Retrieved April 22, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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