Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Chareen Lee Snelson, Ed.D.


Dazhi Yang, Ph.D.


Maude S. Yacapsin, Ph.D.


Chris Haskell, Ed.D.


This exploratory study examines the assessment of digital literacy in higher education using Kurtz and Peled’s (2016) digital literacy framework and assessment instrument. As information and communications technologies have grown over the last part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century, so has the socio-cultural environment (Kurtz & Peled, 2016; Roxin & Rusitoru, 2016). Literacy has grown from a simple concept involving the ability to read and write to a complex concept that includes many more competencies. A review of the literature shows the emergence of many new literacies (Šorgo, Bartol, Dolničar, & Podgornik, 2016). While much is written about new literacies in general, little is written specifically on the assessment of digital literacy (Ainley, Schulz, & Fraillon, 2016; Literat, 2014; & Mills, 2010). At the same time, institutions of higher education are attempting to align their educational objectives with the ever evolving digital landscape. The two questions driving this research are:

(1) Based on Kurtz and Peled’s (2016) digital learning domains, how digitally literate are Messiah College’s first year undergraduate students? and

(2) How do supporting digital files and text reflections and explanations extend Kurtz and Peled’s (2016) instrument assessing digital literacy?

Using an embedded mixed methods approach, participants of this study are Messiah College’s first year students who completed a survey instrument with quantitative and qualitative data collection components. Analysis included descriptive statistics calculations of the quantitative data, and qualitative content analysis (QCA) of the qualitative data. Results indicated Messiah College’s first year undergraduate students in the 2016-2017 academic year were digitally literate with a majority of students responding positively to six of seven of Kurtz and Peled’s (2016) digital learning domains (DLDs). One of the seven DLDs, information management, received an unacceptable reliability score of α = 0.53. The qualitative data: (a) added a layer of supporting evidence for all but one of the DLDs, information validation; (b) demonstrated digital literacies complexity; and (c) presented an additional relevant category, emotion; extending Kurtz and Peled’s quantitative assessment. A synthesis of the quantitative and qualitative components extended the independent results providing a detailed assessment of first year students’ digital literacy. This detailed assessment supported a prioritization of the DLDs informing Messiah College of areas where additional programing may help support and improve students’ digital literacies.


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