Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Iman Chahine

Second Advisor

Dr. M. Swygart-Hobaugh

Third Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Cohen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joseph Feinberg

Abstract

Enrollment in K-12 online courses continues to rise substantially each year (Evergreen Education Group, 2015). As the number of students taking courses online increases, the number of parents parenting in online courses also increases. This qualitative exploratory case study, bounded by the online program that was studied, was performed to better understand parents’ perceptions of their roles in online high school mathematics courses. Eighty-seven parents participated in an online questionnaire which elicited both quantitative and qualitative responses. Guided by the major tenets of symbolic interactionism theoretical framework, these responses were combined with data from six interviews to investigate why parents chose to enroll their children in online mathematics courses, their expectations pertaining to the online mathematics course, and their perceived roles and responsibilities in the online mathematics course.

Through a detailed process of analyzing the questionnaire and interview data, nine themes emerged: (a) participant parents enrolled their children in online mathematics courses to remove their child from a negative social environment and to avoid distractions in the traditional setting; (b) participant parents want their children to have the flexibility to work ahead of their peers; (c) the school should provide quality curriculum and resources for teachers, students, and parents; (d) teachers should identify and address when students need help; (e) teachers should be available and approachable; (f) students should put forth their best effort; (g) students should ask for help when they experience difficulty understanding a new concept; (h) participant parents monitor to make sure their children are completing assignments and asking for help; and (i) participant parents help their children by re-teaching mathematics concepts or encouraging the child to seek help from others.

This study has theoretical and practical significance by adding to literature investigating parental roles in mathematics education and providing insight on the nature of parental involvement in an online high school mathematics program. Consistent with relevant literature (Currie-Rubin & Smith, 2014; Curtis, 2013; Thurber, 2013), results of this study call upon educators to invest in efforts that enhance understanding of parents’ perspectives in an effort to strengthen parental involvement in online mathematics courses.

INDEX WORDS: Mathematics, Online learning, Online mathematics, K-12 online learning, Virtual learning, Parental involvement, Parental engagement, Parental roles, Interactions, Teacher responsibilities, Student responsibilities, Success, Perceptions of success, Flexibility

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