The Relationship Between Literacy Proficiency and The Digital Divide Among Adults with Low Education Attainment

This is a technical report from The Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (LSAL). This report gives information on one subset of the Digital Divide.

Clare Strawn
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Portland State University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

Adults who didn’t finish high school are the demographic group making the most gains as the digital divide closes. The Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning followed a representative sample of these adults (born between 1954 and 1980) in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, with repeat tests of literacy proficiency, work, and technology use.

What the experts say

The author of this resource poses the initial question of whether or not the "digital divide" is closing. She answers this question through presentation of research that is part of a larger longitudinal study conducted in Portland among high school non-completers. The research presented in this resource provides a theoretical understanding of how literacy proficiency and evolving computer technology interact in various contexts that are affected by power relationships. The author stresses that computer technology is evolving rapidly making it difficult for the least literate to keep up. The resource explores various relationships among literacy proficiency and evolving computer technology within a well-defined theoretical framework that helps practitioners understand these relationships. The research findings suggest questions that practitioners might ask new students to determine their proficiency in using computer technology. The findings may also encourage activities to improve proficiency in both literacy and computer technology.

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