Archive for the ‘research methodology’ Category

Every four years the National Center for Education Statistics’ enormous National Household Education Survey includes questions about homeschooling.  The results of the latest round of homeschooling questions (from the 2011 survey) were released in August of 2013.  This massive survey (n=17,563) provides us with the best data by far on homeschooling, consisting as it does of a representative sample of the entire population of the United States.  You can read the preliminary results in tables 7 and 8 of the latest survey here.

Five years ago I summarized what previous rounds of the NCES survey had uncovered about homeschooling.  Here I will update that summary, incorporating the newer data. (more…)

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Record: Christopher Lubienski, Tiffany Puckett, and T. Jameson Brewer, “Does Homeschooling ‘Work’? A Critique of the Empirical Claims and Agenda of Advocacy Organizations” in Peabody Journal of Education 88, no. 3 (2013): 378-392.


Lubienski is well known as one of the most prominent critics of unregulated homeschooling.  Here he and his colleagues do not challenge the rights of families to educate their children at home.  They limit their critique to the research and underlying agendas of homeschooling advocacy organizations. (more…)

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Record: Richard G. Medlin, “Homeschooling and the Question of Socialization Revisited,” in Peabody Journal of Education 88, no. 3 (2013): 284-297.


Medlin, a psychology professor at Stetson University, here continues a line of inquiry he began in one of the landmark articles of the original 2000 Peabody Journal homeschooling special issue.  Since that article he has published several pieces in the journal Home School Researcher, all of which find very positive results for homeschoolers’ social and academic development.  In this piece his goal is to review research on homeschooler socialization that has appeared since his 2000 article.


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Every so often an academic journal decides to devote an entire issue to the topic of homeschooling.  Here is a list of such themed issues:

International Journal of Elementary Education 3, no. 1 (October 2010).

Theory and Research in Education 7, no. 3 (November 2009).

Journal of College Admission 185 (Fall 2004).

Evaluation and Research in Education 17, no. 2-3 (2003).

Peabody Journal of Education 75, no. 1-2 (2000).

Education and Urban Society 21, no. 1 (November 1988).

The Peabody Journal of Education, whose 2000 special issue was a landmark in the history of homeschooling research, released another special issue in 2013, edited, as was the 2000 issue, by Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).  (more…)

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In the past I have occasionally posted all the available data on enrollment compiled by the various states in the USA.  This data is not the best for several reasons.  First, many states do not collect data on enrollments at all.  Second, even those that do often do so on an ad hoc basis, and the results can be unreliable between counties and from year to year.  Third, even if a state has done its best to collect accurate data, an unknown percentage of homeschoolers simply do not register with the state.

With those caveats in mind, we can nevertheless learn some things from this data, especially by attending to trends over time.  (more…)

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Tara Jones, “Through the Lens of Home-Educated Children: Engagement in Education” in Educational Psychology and Practice (2013): 1-15 [Abstract Available Here]


Jones is a PhD student at the University of the West of Scotland.  Here she presents the results of a creative effort to learn about home education from children in the United Kingdom, in hopes that the insights gleaned might help school professionals better deal with children who are becoming disaffected from school.

Jones begins by noting that disaffection from school is a major factor motivating many families to turn to home education–factors such as bullying, special education needs, and erratic behavior are frequently cited.  Most of the research on this population in the UK, as with the research in the United States, has focused far more on the adults doing the homeschooling or making the policy than on the children themselves.  Jones wanted to change that. (more…)

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A few months ago I reviewed Joseph Murphy’s excellent book that synthesizes nearly all of the literature on homeschooling into a convenient, coherent, and literate volume titled Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement.  A couple of years before Dr. Murphy’s book came out Rob Kunzman and I decided that we wanted to do the same thing.  I’ve been reviewing homeschooling literature since 2008 on this blog, and Dr. Kunzman has compiled an exhaustive bibliography, which can be accessed here.  Our article summarizing and synthesizing all of this literature came out a few weeks ago and I asked Dr. Murphy if he would review it for me.  He graciously agreed to do so, and here are his comments: (more…)

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The journal Other Education has just published an article Rob Kunzman and I wrote together titled, “Homeschooling: A Comprehensive Survey of the Research.”  It is the culmination of years of work by both of us compiling every piece of research on homeschooling ever written, culling through them all to select the best material, organizing them into coherent categories, and writing up the results.

Several months ago I reviewed Joseph Murphy’s excellent book Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement, which is a very thorough review of the scholarly literature.  Our article is not nearly so long as Dr. Murphy’s book and thus it lacks some of the detail he provides.  Anyone interested in homeschooling research should read his book cover to cover and keep it on the shelf for frequent reference.  But despite its length and depth of coverage, there are some topics and a few key studies Dr. Murphy leaves out, and he sometimes fails to differentiate between high and low quality studies or between studies published recently and those published decades ago.  I think our article provides even more breadth and does a better job discriminating between sources.  Plus you can download it for free!  Do so here.

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This post reviews Bruce Stafford, “Bad Evidence: the Curious Case of the Government-Commissioned Review of Elective Home Education in England and How Parents Exposed its Weaknesses” in Evidence and Policy 8, no. 3 (August 2012): 361-381. [Abstract Here]

Stafford, a Professor of Public Policy at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, here relates the remarkable story of how a group of home educators succeeded in undermining the status of a high-profile report on home education commissioned by England’s Department for Children, Schools, and Families (DCSF).  Stafford is interested in this story not because of home education but because of what it reveals about the flaws in the government’s tendency to farm out its research needs to private entities absent any sort of rigorous peer-review system.  Stafford himself, so far as I can tell, is not a homeschooling insider.  He’s an expert on various elements of government social policy, especially Disability Services.  He’s also done a good bit of contract work for the government himself, which might explain his interest in this particular case.  Here’s the story: (more…)

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This post reviews Lizebelle van Schalkwyk and Cecilia Bouwer, “Homeschooling: Heeding the Voices of Learners” in Education as Change 15, no. 2 (December 2011): 179-190.

van Schalkwyk and Bouwer, both professors at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, here try to attend to the voices of actual homeschooled children to get a sense of what they think about the practice.

Since 1997 homeschooling has been legal in South Africa.  But research on homeschooling, assert van Schalkwyk and Bouwer, has very seldom paid any attention to what the children being homeschooled think about the experience.  What little information there is on childhood experiences is typically gleaned from impersonal surveys.  To correct this gap the researchers attempt a qualitative study that attends to the thick family context of beliefs, habits, and interactions. (more…)

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