The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of digital literacy on college students’ academic performance. This paper seeks to contribute to the existing body of knowledge and practice by providing an evidence-based framework for understanding how digital literacy affects student success in higher education.
To do so, this research will rely on a combination of theoretical frameworks: (1) Social Cognitive Theory; (2) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK); and (3) Connectivism Learning Theory. These theoretical perspectives are well established within the field of educational technologies and provide a comprehensive model for exploring the ways in which access to digital resources, skills with technology, and cognitive processes all intersect to impact college student learning outcomes.
Social Cognitive Theory asserts that individuals can learn through observation or direct instruction from others, however behaviors related to learning are strengthened through reinforcement if successful (Bandura 1977). TPACK combines pedagogical strategies with technological integration in order to create effective teaching practices that promote active learning and support instructional objectives (Mishra & Koehler 2017). Connectivism Learning Theory posits that knowledge is encoded across networks rather than individual sources, thus highlighting the importance of connecting learners with information sources via computer-mediated communication such as e-mail, forums, blogs and social media sites (Siemens 2005). By utilizing these three distinct but overlapping theories we can gain a more holistic view into how engagement with digital tools may enhance student success in higher education settings.