Digital College Readiness: A Multi-case Study of Early College High School Graduates' Perceptions of the Demands and Opportunities to Learn
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Clarifying the concept of digital college readiness (DCR) can direct pedagogical and policy shifts toward the integration of digital literacies instruction as an essential component of college readiness, especially for educators and researchers in the field of developmental education. Since the 1980s, the demands for digitally mediated literacies have become increasingly critical for postsecondary access and success (Katz, 2007; Kumar & Vigil, 2011; Ortega, 2013; Selwyn, 2015; Sparks, Katz, & Beile, 2016), however, pervasive assumptions regarding when and how students acquire digital literacies contribute to the reality that PK-16 instruction is fragmented and leaves students underserved (Fluck & Dowden, 2011; Goode, 2010; Katz, 2007; Naidoo & Raju, 2012; Sparks, et al., 2016). This study utilized a multi-case study approach (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016; Yin, 2014) within a new literacies conceptual framework (Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, and Leu, 2008; Gee, 2008; Knobel & Lankshear, 2006) to examine postsecondary student experiences related to meeting digital demands at the college-level. Background data were collected from an online survey to inform a two-tier, purposeful selection (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, Yin 2014) of cases of Early College High School (ECHS) graduates who met criteria as representing underserved populations. Interview participants followed a retrospective think aloud protocol (Van Den Haak, de Jong, & Schellens, 2003; Greene, Yu, & Copeland, 2014) to metacognitively narrate their experiences related to completion of academic assignments in digitally mediated contexts. A converging line of inquiry, including contextualization of the ECHS educational environment, exposed patterns related to substantive research topics that clarified concepts of digital college readiness as advanced levels of digital skills, abilities, and behaviors developed from foundational digital literacies that support postsecondary student access to and success within digitally mediated academic contexts. The implications of this study included continued effort on the part of educational practitioners and researchers to problematize assumptions about student levels of digital literacies proficiencies and to move toward participatory opportunities to learn. Participatory opportunities to learn digital literacies is a promising area where student familiarity and comfort with ubiquitous digital technologies can be leveraged to support general college success.