Exploring the experiences of learning coaches in a cyber charter school : a qualitative case study

Hasler Waters, Lisa Cecilia
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
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The parents and guardians of students enrolled in cyber charter schools are often relied upon to support the education of their children. Yet, little is known about them and concern exists over their effectiveness as educational facilitators. The purpose of this exploratory case study was to discover the beliefs and behaviors of learning coaches as they supported their children enrolled in a cyber charter school. Five practicing learning coaches, who were the parents and guardians of cyber charter students, took part in this qualitative case study. As a group, learning coaches believed they and not their children's teachers were ultimately responsible for instructing their children. Results indicated that to support their children, the learning coaches engaged in the four mechanisms of behavior as described by the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler Model of Parental Involvement (Hoover-Dempsey, Walker, Sandler, Whetsel, Green, Wilkins & Closson, 2005a). These behaviors included encouraging, reinforcing, modeling and instructing. However, learning coaches also engaged in two additional behaviors not described by the model: adapting and leveraging. Adapting was described as a behavior in which learning coaches adjusted instructional strategies, learning environments, daily schedules and even belief-systems to accommodate their children's learning needs. Leveraging resources was defined as the behavior in which learning coaches would access support and materials from a variety of sources to meet their children's learning needs. Often, this included resources from the Internet. Ultimately, the study revealed that learning coaches created learner-centric environments. In such environments, technology was absolutely instrumental in helping learning coaches perform their roles and enabling them to provide flexible learning. Yet, these coaches faced significant challenges including: shortage of time, complexity of the role and lack of immediate access to teachers. Overall, the study recommended that cyber charter schools: (a) investigate the needs of learning coaches and their students, (b) improve systems to enable learning coaches to engage in more effective teaching and learning, (c) provide differentiated training and services to meet the unique needs of learning coaches, and (d) study the roles of teachers and learning coaches to gain a better understanding of how to appropriate their responsibilities to maximize learning for students in cyber charters.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
cyber charter schools, virtual charters, blended learning, learning coaches, parental involvement
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Education.
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