Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

Committee Members

Katherine Greenberg, Richard Allington, Judson Laughter


This study tells the story of one homeschool parent as she attempted to solve her son’s reading problems. It also investigates whether she intentionally or intuitively engaged in design thinking to create the processes she used to teach-and-learn reading with her son. Homeschool parents assume full responsibility for their children’s educational outcomes, including learning to read. When a homeschool child struggles to read, parents are often at a loss as to how to teach them to become readers. To address the reading-related struggles that homeschool children and parents encounter, this exploratory qualitative research seeks to discover whether design thinking methods could be useful to a homeschool parent to improve her ability to teach her child to read well. Design thinking involves methods that designers use to solve real-world problems. Increasingly, non-design sectors like business, medicine, and education have adopted design thinking methods to solve many types of problems. To that end, this research followed the narrative inquiry methodology based on the Vision in Product design method (Hekkert & van Dijk, 2011) and guided by Riessman’s (2008) dialogic/performative approach and Clandinin and Connelly’s three-dimensional narrative inquiry space (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Data collection spanned over a nine-month period and involved several hours of video recording of participant child and parent interactions surrounding reading. The narrative data is reported in the form of a play performance. The study revealed two findings from the analysis. First, the homeschool parent engaged in three teaching-and-learning processes: emotional, intellectual, and practical. Second, she enacted design-thinking and -doing activities along a continuum that can be identified as a design quotient. Design quotients range from intentional awareness of design and acting like a designer, to unawareness of design and not acting like a designer.

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