Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ben Rafoth, Ed.D.


In this qualitative research study, the author investigated first-year college students' non-academic digital literacy practices, the audiences for these practices, and students' preferences for enacting these practices in the first-year college writing classroom. Methods of data collection included surveying 177 students, conducting individual interviews with eight of these students, and conducting follow-up individual interviews with two of these eight interviewees. Study results regarding students' use of digital tools indicate that students engage in more content reception than content creation in a range of digital literacy practices and vary in the level of attention they pay to audience in writing in online spaces. Results regarding students' preferences for utilizing their non-academic digital literacy practices in writing courses indicate that students do perceive the potential for such practices to enhance their college writing education and identify the communicative potential afforded by digital technologies as the area in which the greatest potential lies.