ESZTER HARGITTAI'S RESEARCH
Measures of Web-Oriented Digital Literacy
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2005. Social Science Computer Review. 23(3):371-379. Fall.
This paper presents survey measures of Web-oriented digital literacy to
serve as proxies for observed skill measures, which are much more
expensive and difficult to collect for large samples. Findings are based
on a study that examined users' digital literacy through both observations
and survey questions making it possible to check the validity of survey
proxy measures. These analyses yield a set of recommendations for what
measures work well as survey proxies of people's observed Web-use skills.
Some of these survey measures were administered on the General Social
Survey 2000 and 2002 Internet modules making the findings relevant for the
use of existing large-scale national data sets. Results suggest that some
composite variables of survey knowledge items are better predictors of
people's actual digital literacy based on performance tests than measures
of users' self-perceived abilities, a proxy traditionally used in the
literature on the topic.
II. In-depth measures of online skill
III. Survey measures of digital literacy
IV. Digital literacy measures on the General Social Survey
V. The validity of self-reported ratings of DL items
VI. The relationship of behavioral and survey measures of digital
VII. Composite measures of digital literacy
VIII. Survey measures of digital literacy as predictors of actual
I thank Paul DiMaggio, Scott Lynch and Peter Miller for helpful
discussions. I am also indebted to Ron Anderson and the anonymous referees
for their valuable suggestions for improving the manuscript. Generous
support from the Markle Foundation and NSF grant #IIS0086143 is kindly
acknowledged. The project has also been supported in part by a grant from
the Russell Sage Foundation. I am also grateful to the Dan David
Foundation for its support.
This is a pre-print version of the article to appear in Social
Science Computer Review.
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