Assessing new media literacies in social work education.

Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July, 2014.


husITa14 Session

Jimmy Young (University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA).


The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between new media literacy (NML) and digital participation among social work educators and students who use information and communication technologies such as social media. The study replicates the validity and reliability of a newly developed assessment tool for self-reported media literacy levels. The hypotheses state: higher levels of NML will predict a higher degree of engagement with media, and that there will be a significant difference in the level of NML between social work students and educators.

The methodology for this study utilized a new survey instrument consisting of 12 separate subscales (Literat, 2011) that correspond to the 12 NML skills identified by Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel (2009).To assess the psychometric properties of this new assessment tool, factor analysis was performed to assess the reliability of the measure in addition to correlating the scales with several variables that media literacy should predict, such as degree of participation, extent of user engagement with creative multimedia projects and so forth.

Comparing results of the participants’ scores assists in drawing conclusions about the research questions and standardizing the instrument. The survey was constructed using the Qualtrics survey software. Each participant that completed the survey was given a score indicating his or her level of New Media Literacy. Participants were evaluated on a range of 0 – 300, which corresponds to one of four categories of New Media Literacy. Data was collected over four months using social work list serves and social media websites. Results indicate students (N=155) NML levels are higher than that of educators (N=120), and students participate more frequently in social media than do educators. This study demonstrates the need to incorporate new media literacy into the social work curriculum to address the changing nature of social work practice.



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