Date of Conferral







Darci J. Harland


Although problem-based learning (PBL) is not a new educational teaching method, little is known about the experiences of homeschool teachers who implement this teaching and learning approach with students with special needs. An increase in the number students with special needs being homeschooled made this study necessary and timely. The purpose of this study was to explore how publicly shared PBL experiences of homeschool teachers of students with special needs reflect 21st-century skills. The study was framed using 3 skill areas from a 21st-century skills framework including communication and collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking, and cross-disciplinary knowledge. Data were collected from 20 blog sites that were each written by a homeschool teacher of at least 1 student with special needs. The sites had a minimum of 3 blog posts that referenced teaching and learning that aligned with the fundamentals of PBL. Deductive-dominant content analysis was completed on 87 blog posts through 2 levels of coding using both a priori and emergent coding. Key findings showed that the blog posts of homeschool teachers of students with special needs most often described (a) sharing, (b) creating inquiry environments and supports, and (c) cross-discipline content. Because the blog posts of homeschool teachers who use a PBL approach with their students with special needs reflect 21st-century skills, this study may encourage more teachers in the homeschool community to implement a PBL approach. The results from this study may contribute to positive social change by providing insights for homeschool teachers interested in purposefully implementing PBL experiences where students with special needs practice 21st-century skills.

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