Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Richard Zbaracki

Second Advisor

Charles Kostelnick


In this critical qualitative research project, students in six sections of First-Year Composition at Iowa State University and the researcher attempted to determine how cultural assumptions about computer technology influence their development of critical computer literacy in FY Comp. Beginning with students' baseline perspectives on digital technology, the study examined the formative experiences and patterns of engagement students relate and characteristic expressions they use to talk about technology. The study followed students as they were invited to re-think their previous attitudes about the computer. The study presents and analyzes the distinctive ways that students re-thought (or failed to re-think) these positions within the conditions of this study---using the computer as the topic of reading and reflective writing and as the means of carrying out these activities. Students articulated their critical thought in the form of written and oral responses to questions and in dialogue with each other;This study supports the notion that students can develop their critical computer literacy, and critical literacy in general, but only when they are deliberately and self-consciously attempting to do that. In the case of critical computer literacy, cultural assumptions about computer technology interfere with that development, but can be overridden by students' deliberate effort. This effort involves both a willingness on the part of the students to temporarily set aside cultural assumptions as well as to develop skills that enable them to become aware of the lenses through which they view the world;Although there is some connection between the technology perspective students enter FY Comp with and their development of critical computer literacy, the study's methods seemed to provoke the modest re-thinking of comfortable thoughts in many of the participants. The most reflective evaluation of computer technology's influence was accompanied by a greater sense of agency on the part of the student and that student's attendant ability to think relationally: to make connections between the micro-conditions of his/her experiences and larger, macro-conditions of the culture which shape those experiences.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Barbara Blakely Duffelmeyer



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

304 pages