Summary of Digital Literacies Research 2004-2014

WordCloud of RQs UPDATED December 5, 2014.
With my colleague, Hiller Spires from NC State University, I’ve just finished a review of digital literacies research published in a set of 10 literacies and educational research journals between 2004 and September, 2014. This study will be presented next week at the Literacy Research Association conference in Marco Island, Florida.

The work, which is a response to Gutiérrez and Penuel’s (2014) call for relevance to practice to be considered a criterion for rigor in educational research, examined only digital literacies studies conducted in K-12 school and classroom contexts. In this way, we looked at the research that was the most practice-focused to generate some understanding of the questions that have been asked in this body of work, and the methods that have been used to construct understandings. Ultimately, we settled on a corpus of 71 studies. Importantly, this analysis did not focus on findings—findings will be the focus of a follow-up study.

We focused on the research questions that drove these studies and found that they were largely focused on two themes—teachers’ navigation of change as they considered new dimensions of practice and the integration of digital tools in their classroom, and students’ learning processes as they engaged with digital literacies activities. Fourteen other themes of focus were identified in the corpus of studies too.

We also reviewed the methods that were used to investigate these questions. Case Study and Action Research were most frequently used. Together, these findings suggest that digital literacies researchers have asked questions and used methods that would align with Guttierez and Penuel’s call for work that focuses on the dynamic complexities of students’ and teachers’ interactions. That said, we also identified several opportunities for future research. In particular, we recommend that the digital literacies community use a broader set of methods, for instance, formative and design experiments, ethnography, virtual ethnography, and even longitudinal designs that do not compromise the focus on practice, but would strengthen the foundation of digital literacies research.

Presentation Slides

Link to .pdf version of slides:

Hagerman & Spires (2014)

Link to Updated .pdf of Paper: 

Hagerman & Spires (2014)


Gutiérrez, K. & Penuel, W. (2014). Relevance to practice as a criterion for rigor. Educational Researcher, 43(1), 19-23.

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