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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Department of Learning, Technology and Leadership Education


The following is a mixed method research study that explores the correlates between computer use and academic achievement among low-income college students at James Madison University. A sample of 42 sophomore, junior and senior students served as participants in this study. All participants were members of the university’s Centennial Scholars Program, an initiative created by the university in 2004 to give high school students from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to go to college on full-tuition scholarship. Using a theoretical framework that incorporated situated cognition theory (Brown, Duguid & Collins, 1989), communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) and the digital divide (Attewell, 2001) the research conducted explored how students from low-income backgrounds engaged with computers for academic and non-academic purposes and how this engagement relates to academic achievement (GPA). Quantitative research returned evidence that a correlation exists between academic achievement and social networking for academic purposes among this population, while qualitative research further explored how this population engaged with computer for academic and non-academic purposes.

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