Archive for the ‘Research’ category

Service to Homeschooling Families: LA and Santa Maria Pre-Workshop Assignment Part 2

March 2, 2009

Another resource I think is valuable to those who want to learn more about homeschooling (which I’ve linked to here before and that I’ll be citing several times in the workshops next week) is the National Center for Education Statistics’ report, “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003.” The stats are a bit dated at this point, but they are also the most rigorously collected and carefully analyzed stats currently available on homeschooling. It is tremendously difficult to find studies of homeschooling that focus, like this one does, on homeschoolers as a whole rather than a very select group of homeschoolers. The authors’ comments in the NCES report speak to some of the difficulties in collecting information about homeschoolers, and some of their findings might surprise you. Here are just a few interesting factoids from the study:

  • * The number one reason homeschooling parents (85.4% of respondents) gave for homeschooling their children was “concern about environment of other schools.” The number two reason (68.2% of respondents) was “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools.”
  • * Homeschooled children are more likely to come from two-parent families, have more siblings, and have one parent home full-time than their institutionally-schooled peers.
  • * 77.9% of respondents reported using the public library as a primary source of learning materials. The library won out over homeschooling catalogs, bookstores, and homeschooling organizations–as well it should.

The NCES has started updating this data, and in December they published a new “In Brief” report, “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007.” It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s worth a quick read.

Advertisements

Service to Homeschooling Families: Infopeople Pre-Workshop Assignment, Part 2

January 7, 2009

Another resource I think is valuable to those who want to learn more about homeschooling (which I’ve linked to here before and that I’ll be citing several times in the workshop next week) is the National Center for Education Statistics’ report, “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003.” The stats are a bit dated at this point, but they are also the most rigorously collected and carefully analyzed stats currently available on homeschooling. It is tremendously difficult to find studies of homeschooling that focus, like this one does, on homeschoolers as a whole rather than a very select group of homeschoolers. The authors’ comments in the NCES report speak to some of the difficulties in collecting information about homeschoolers, and some of their findings might surprise you. Here are just a few interesting factoids from the study:

The number one reason homeschooling parents (85.4% of respondents) gave for homeschooling their children was “concern about environment of other schools.” The number two reason (68.2% of respondents) was “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools.”

  • * Homeschooled children are more likely to come from two-parent families, have more siblings, and have one parent home full-time than their institutionally-schooled peers.
  • * 77.9% of respondents reported using the public library as a primary source of learning materials. The library won out over homeschooling catalogs, bookstores, and homeschooling organizations–as well it should.
  • The NCES has started updating this data, and just this past month they published a new “In Brief” report, “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007.” It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s work a quick read.

    [Note: If you’re just joining us, please don’t miss our first preworkshop assignment.]

    Just in Time for Christmas: New Information on Homeschoolers from the National Center for Education Statistics

    December 23, 2008

    Just today, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has issued a new “In Brief” report, “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007.” I may be the only girl who was waiting on the edge of her seat for this data, but this is the first reporting on the NCES’s planned update of their somewhat ground-breakingly informative “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003.”

    The new report gives the barest glimpse of the information they have (although they promise future reports analyzing more data) and focuses primarily on how many homeschooled students there were in 2007 and how that changed from their previous reports in 2003 and 1999. It does, however, also give stats on the reasons surveyed parents gave for homeschooling. Most interesting to me is that  “To provide religious or moral instruction” made a significant jump (from 72% in 2003 to 83% in 2007). They’ve also added a category, “Nontraditional approach to child’s education,” which I think is wise.

    Interesting, interesting. I’ll be looking forward to when they release a full report.

    Service to Homeschooling Families, San Francisco: Pre-Workshop Assignment, Part 2

    November 29, 2008

    Happy post-Thanksgiving weekend!

    Another resource I think is valuable to those who want to learn more about homeschooling (which I’ve linked to here before and that I’ll be citing several times in the workshop next week) is the National Center for Education Statistics’ report, “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003.” The stats are a bit dated at this point, but they are also the most rigorously collected and carefully analyzed stats currently available on homeschooling. It is tremendously difficult to find studies of homeschooling that focus, like this one does, on homeschoolers as a whole rather than a very select group of homeschoolers. The authors’ comments in the NCES report speak to some of the difficulties in collecting information about homeschoolers, and some of their findings might surprise you. Here are just a few interesting factoids from the study:

    • * The number one reason homeschooling parents (85.4% of respondents) gave for homeschooling their children was “concern about environment of other schools.” The number two reason (68.2% of respondents) was “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools.”
    • * Homeschooled children are more likely to come from two-parent families, have more siblings, and have one parent home full-time than their institutionally-schooled peers.
    • * 77.9% of respondents reported using the public library as a primary source of learning materials. The library won out over homeschooling catalogs, bookstores, and homeschooling organizations–as well it should.

    I highly recommend taking a little time to read the report: it’s a fast read and most interesting. I’m looking forward to a promised update in the next year or two.

    [Note: If you’re just joining us, don’t miss our first pre-workshop assignment.]

    Research on Library Services to Homeschoolers

    May 1, 2007

    McCarthy, Amy, and Deborah Lines Andersen. “Homeschoolers at the Public Library: Are Library Services and Policies Keeping Pace?” JLAMS 3, no. 1: 5-44.

    You can find this article here (pdf document, scroll to page 5 to find article). This is an excellent article: well thought-out, well-researched, informative. It’s a must-read for librarians interested in learning more about homeschooling and building programs and services to homeschoolers.

    Research Articles?

    May 16, 2006

    Fisher, Jeffrey C., and Don A. Wicks. “Bookmobile Services to Homeschoolers in Ohio.” Bookmobiles and Outreach Services 7, no. 1: 7-28.

    There are many problems endemic in research and writing by and about librarians and homeschoolers, and this article is a perfect example. (Sadly, it’s not freely available online, so you’ll have to use your mad librarian skills if you want to find a copy to examine yourself.)

    First of all, who even knew there was a journal called Bookmobiles and Outreach Services? Who knew it was published by the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship at Clarion University of Pennsylvania? Who knew there even was a Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship – at Clarion or anywhere else?

    That’s right. Next to no one.

    And why is that?

    That’s because, at least in public libraries, the people out on the front lines are shockingly out of touch with the scholarship that’s going on and the people doing the research are shockingly out of touch with front line workers. Much of the “research” that’s going on is of the “publish or perish” variety that doesn’t do much besides help people cling to their positions and possibly get tenure or promotions. I don’t want to knock it; this is what these people have to do to work, and I fully support people’s desire to stay employed. However, this has created a body of literature that isn’t particularly helpful and, even if it is helpful, isn’t being found and used.

    Which brings me back to our article.

    I want to take a moment here to say that I fully recognize the difficulty of what Fisher and Wicks are attempting to do. Homeschoolers are hard to get a handle on. If there is anything that unites them as a group, it is their tendency to guard their privacy and distrust anything that sounds too official. Many of them won’t self-identify, and it’s notoriously difficult to get together a statically significant sample of homeschoolers. Even so, studies like this aren’t the answer.

    In order to determine how many homeschoolers were using bookmobile services and what services homeschoolers were using, the authors asked the people who run the bookmobiles. Basically, this is equivalent to conducting a survey to find out how many brown-eyed people visit the library by asking the director. Perhaps the director can give you an estimate, but it’s based on perception, not data. In order to get hard data, one needs to do an entrance or exit survey of actual users. The authors of this study mention that this was an option for them, but they decided not to pursue it because, in my words, it was too hard. I appreciate their honesty, and I wish I saw more of it carry though the rest of the article. What the article as a whole neglected to mention repeatedly was that, for instance, bookmobile staff *perceived* that homeschoolers were using the bookmobile more in 2004 than they were in 1999 and that they *perceived* that homeschoolers were using some services more than others. Ultimately, this is a study of staff awareness, opinions, and attitudes – not, as the authors assert, what homeschoolers are actually doing. To find out what the homeschoolers are up to, we need to ask them. Doing that is less simple than it sounds, but that would make for a much more worthwhile and useful study.

    This is the sort of thing I’m coming across again and again in my research. These articles can be interesting but are generally unreliable. I suppose I don’t have any room to criticize, since I am not a scientist and am certainly not out there conducting research, but SIGH. Maybe in another life….

    Report from the National Center for Education Statistics

    May 7, 2006

    It’s hard to get statistics on homeschoolers for all sorts of reasons: many guard their privacy, the definition of “homeschooling” varies from state to state (and even district to district), and it’s hard to get a statistically significant sample together. That said, the National Center for Education Statistics has an interesting report on homeschoolers and homeschooling. The statistics themselves are interesting, but I was also interested in the discussion of how difficult it is to gather data and draw conclusions on this population. It’s also interesting (and perhaps hopeful for the movement) that the report frequently refers to public and private schools as “other” schools, giving homeschooling semantic legitimacy as a valid school, which I think is great.