Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Susan L. O'Donnell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Scot Headley, Ph.D.


Homeschooling is a controversial educational option that has grown dramatically during the past two decades. Socialization concerns contribute strongly to this controversy. Research in this area is sparse, but it indicates that homeschooled students do well academically and socially. Many homeschooling studies suffer, however, from serious methodological issues. This investigation sought to discover whether differences in social competence existed between sample populations of homeschooled and conventionally-schooled students; research in the arena of competence and resilience served to guide the methodology. Where differences were found, specifics were elucidated and factors contributing to these differences were isolated.

Forty-seven homeschooling and conventionally-schooling families participated (N = 47). Parents completed the Family Characteristics questionnaire, the parent version of the Social Involvement Report (SIR-P), and the Parent Rating Scales (PRS) which is part of the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC). The students completed the adolescent version of the SIR (SIR-P), the Self-Report of Personality (SRP) of the BASC, and a Friendship Task. Teachers provided information on thirty-two students by completing the Teacher Rating Scales (TRS) of the BASC. Results indicated that there were differences in the social competence of homeschooled and conventionally-schooled adolescents, particularly on the BASC scales. Mean scores on the PRS and TRS for homeschooled and conventionally-schooled students were in the average range on all adaptive and maladaptive scales, but homeschooled students were consistently rated higher on measures of social skills and on measures that support academic competence. Ratings for conventionally-schooled students were consistently higher on measures of school and social maladjustment.

The significantly different family characteristics of homeschooling and conventionally-schooling families impacted several of the research findings. Parental employment status, family structure, father's education, and religious involvement were factors that were particularly influential. Adolescents from complex step-families where parents worked full-time had the highest scores on measures of maladjustment. This study represented a strong first step towards increasing the available information concerning homeschooling and its impact on social competence. Additional studies are needed to further explore the development of competence in both homeschool and conventional school settings to understand the impact of educational environments on the development of social competence.

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