Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

Gregory Petty, Gary Skolits, Mary Ziegler


The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine and describe the learning projects of a selected sample of small business owners in a community in the Southeastern United States. The study included the revision and modernization of Tough’s (1971) Learning Project Interview Schedule. A total of 35 small business owners were interviewed using a modified version of Tough’s Learning Project Interview Schedule. The schedule consisted of 10 learning project and seven demographic items that were adapted or created by a collaborative research team at the University of Tennessee using Tough’s (1971) Interview Schedule. Data revealed that participants had a mean of 6.8 learning projects conducted over the previous 12-months. The learner was the primary planner of 55.9% of all learning projects with a mix of planners used in 22.7% of cases. This study found that African-Americans identified the learner as the primary planner in 71.9% of learning projects, higher than the overall mean. Demographic information revealed that a large majority (88.6%) of participants had at least an intermediate computer skill level. This was reflected in the use of technology for learning projects. The Internet was indicated as a resource in 43.3% of learning projects and was second only to print sources (54.2%). Technology played a key role in the learning projects of small business owners as it acted as both a primary source of information and as a secondary source for finding additional resources including content experts, print sources, and multimedia. Recommendations for further research include the need for additional studies on the preferences for, and impact of using technology for conducting learning projects. Specifically, research may explore the learner’s perception of benefits of various forms of technology for conducting learning projects.

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