Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Mona Matthews, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Joyce King, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Diane Truscott, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Tisha Lewis-Ellison, Ph.D.


While digital technologies have been recognized as a necessary part of school learning, a digital divide persists between those who have technological access and those without technological access. African American children in impoverished, urban areas may lack the same opportunities to use technology as children in higher socioeconomic status (SES) areas. Research demonstrates that schools may serve as an equalizer in bridging this digital divide. Thus, students who attend schools in low SES comminutues can benefit from the integration of Digital Literacies (DL) during literacy instruction. This qualitative study examined how teachers in an urban, low SES school struggled to utilize DL in ways that challenged traditional literacy practices. To understand these struggles, this study examined how elementary teachers within this demographic used DL in response to the demands for technology during literacy instruction. Guiding questions included: a) What pedagogical practices do teachers of African American children in urban, low SES classrooms use when integrating digital tools during their literacy instruction? b) How do these teachers’ perceptions of Digital Literacies’s usefulness impact the ways they use Digital Literacies during their literacy instruction? c) What challenges do the teachers face and how do they respond to these challenges as they integrate Digital Literacies in their classrooms? Data collected included observations of teachers during Digital Literacies lessons, individual and focus group interviews, audio-journals entires, curriculum maps, and lesson plans. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative method to allow themes to emerge. Results from this qualitative study revealed that teachers exhibited three levels of Implementation of DL, including Limited, Moderate, and Full Implementation. Examination of teachers’ pedagogical practices using the TPACK rubric and the SAMR model of integration revealed that a teachers’s willingness to implement DL is dependent upon variations in the level of DL knowledge and intangible variables such as a teacher’s beliefs toward technology, a teachers’ comfort level, and the teacher’s response to challenges that occur. This study’s aimed to provide valuable information to the existing body of research on DL for teachers of African American students.