The role of digital literacy in the academic performance of first year students in the National Diploma: Information Technology at the University of Johannesburg
First year students | Academic performance | Computer literacy
The aim of this study is to determine the role of pre-existing levels of digital literacy on the academic performance of students who are enrolled for the National Diploma Information Technology at the University of Johannesburg. The majority of students entering the University of Johannesburg are black and come from schools and communities which do not enjoy the same technologically rich environments as that of their counterparts, yet on entering their first year of studies, they are expected by lecturers to perform at the same level as those from advantaged backgrounds. Students enrolled in 2008 were targeted, using a mixed methods study that incorporated both quantitative and qualitative data to illuminate the factors related to digital literacy that may have influenced the students’ likelihood to succeed in the Information Technology modules. The data that were collected were brought in relation to the students final marks for the subject Information Systems 1 Module A (Computer Concepts). It emerged that the computer literate students performed significantly better during the first semester compared to the computer illiterate students. The computer illiterate students indicated that the lack of computer experience influenced their ability to pass computer related subjects; however, it was not the only limiting factor as socioeconomic factors also played a role. Other results showed that students battled to keep up with the fast pace with which subjects were lectured. The students’ level of the English language is a predictor of their success in the Diploma and more than 70% of students were unable to use the Internet.