Digital Literacy Readiness of First-Year Composition Students

Stephen Jantuah Boakye, University of Texas at El Paso


This is an inquiry into the digital literacy readiness of students of First-Year Composition (FYC). Using mixed methods, an online survey and interviews, the study maps out the digital literacy skills of FYC students and accounts for the people and places that contributed to the students’ acquisition of those skills. As theoretical frameworks, the study used Eshet-Alkalai’s (2002) digital literacy framework to account for the spectrum of students’ functional digital literacy skills; Brandt’s (1998) literacy sponsorship to scrutinize the persons who contributed to student’s learning; and Hawisher and Selfe’s (2004) technological gateways to make sense of the places that student mainly utilized to acquire their skills. The study found that FYC students possess digital literacy skills in varying degrees of proficiency and that the main people and places that contributed to their literacy learning were school and home, with teachers and family members correspondingly serving as literacy sponsors. On students’ digital literacy strengths and weaknesses, they reported word processing and typing as their strengths and felt less competent about multimodal composition skills like video editing, sound editing, website creation and computer interface navigation. The study concludes with a digital literacy framework which integrates digital literacy skill acquisition into the FYC curriculum. The framework guides instructors to directly hone in digital literacy skills in the composition class. This dissertation provides insight into the level of preparedness of FYC students for multimodal composition and is of benefit for Writing Program Administrators (WPAs), university administrators and teachers of FYC.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Educational evaluation|Higher education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Boakye, Stephen Jantuah, "Digital Literacy Readiness of First-Year Composition Students" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29206630.