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Operationalizing Success in a Digital Learning Environment Designed to Support Vulnerable Adults
Presentations and Publications
  • Elizabeth Withers, Portland State University
  • Jill Castek, Portland State University
  • Robert Fountain, Portland State University
  • Drew Pizzolato, Portland State University
  • Kimberly D. Pendell, Portland State University
  • Gloria Jacobs, Portland State University
  • Stephen Reder, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Adult literacy,
  • Computer assisted instruction,
  • Digital divide
This study seeks to examine patterns of successful learning identified when economically vulnerable, underserved, and high-need adults engaged in self-access, tutor facilitated learning to acquire digital literacy. In large part, this diverse population of learners has been left behind in the digital revolution, thus compounding their social, economic, and educational disadvantages. These individuals have unique patterns of engagement within educational endeavors, at times dropping in and out of programs as a result of social and economic impediments that permeate their lives. Traditional means of identifying success in their learning endeavors inadequately describe the paths these learners take on the road to acquiring digital literacy. This research explores ways to operationalize the success of adult learners who come to public access computer labs in libraries, adult education, and community organizations for tutor-facilitated support to acquire digital literacy. Findings suggest that adults’ digital literacy learning, and the programs that support this learning, are best explored using aspects of goal directed learning that consider dimensions of the learners’ self-directed goals as a means of learner and program success.

Presented at the American Education Research Association Conference (AERA), Chicago, IL, April 2015.

Recipient of the exemplary paper award in the Adult Literacy and Education Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association

The PowerPoint presentation with audio that accompanies the paper is available below in Additional Files

Persistent Identifier
Citation Information
Withers, E., Castek, J., Fountain, R., Pizzolato, D., Pendell, K., Jacobs, G., & Reder, S. (2015, April). Operationalizing success in a digital learning environment designed to support vulnerable adults. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association Conference (AERA). Chicago, IL