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Digital Divides and Literacy Learning: A Metaphor Analysis of Developmental College Students' and Teachers' Conceptualizations of Technology

, University of Cincinnati, United States

University of Cincinnati . Awarded


The near constant use of technology today has led to widespread changes in the way literacy is imagined, used, and theorized. Since college students spend a significant amount of time using and being involved with various acts of technology there is no doubt that their literate lives are changing and adapting as well. Although most college-aged students would call themselves technologically literate, many still struggle with the literacy demands of college.

Many instructors are feeling the push toward a more prevalent inclusion of technology for instructional purposes. However, it has been determined that having access to technology for instructional purposes and a will and desire to incorporate technology into classroom pedagogy does not always transition into successful integration in classrooms. The inconsistencies in classroom inclusion causes a disconnect between what students are motivated and engaged in using in out-of-school settings with the academic demands they are expected to achieve in in-school settings.

This dissertation explains a research study aimed at discovering the conceptualizations developmental college students' and college instructors' have about technology in order to analyze how their conceptualizations influence the teaching/learning transaction. In addition, this study challenges deficit perspectives about college developmental students and their perceived readiness for college level work. This challenge calls for instructors to validate the experiences, knowledges, and skills students bring with them to the college classrooms and build upon them for improved and more effective pedagogy.

Utilizing metaphor analysis, students' and instructors' elicited and spontaneous metaphors were studied to determine their conceptualizations of technology in order to gather useful information about how technology is impacting their literate lives and how educators can best bridge common out-of-school literacy practices with academics. Since metaphors are embedded in our everyday language and can shape our beliefs about our culture and the way we define traditional concepts, metaphor analysis provides researchers' insight on the relationship between language and thought. This qualitative study utilized questionnaires, interviews and focus group sessions.

It was determined that developmental college students perceive technology to be addicting but a necessary part of their lives. College reading, on the other hand, was an activity they find boring and painful. These contrasting conceptualizations lead to the increased discussion on technology use and the ways in which technology is perceived in both in-school and out-of-school settings. Further, it was discovered that developmental students are utilizing technology for a variety of communication purposes and, therefore, a connection between communication theories and literacy practices should be more established. The ways in which instructors are conceptualizing technology is much different than their students which leads to a disconnect between use and proper academic implementation. The study findings lead to both pedagogical and research implications.


Bauer, L.B. Digital Divides and Literacy Learning: A Metaphor Analysis of Developmental College Students' and Teachers' Conceptualizations of Technology. Ph.D. thesis, University of Cincinnati. Retrieved October 13, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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