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The effectiveness of a Digital Citizenship curriculum in an urban school

Clifton J. Boyle, Johnson & Wales University


Misuse of technology is a behavioral pattern that continues to emerge in our society. Television and newspapers continue to list and report technology misuse. A recent study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project has indicated approximately one third of teen are victims of online harassment (Lenhart, 2009). Other prominent problems with regard to technology misuse include: internet plagiarism, hacking into school servers, illegally downloading music, accessing pornographic Web sites, and playing video games during class time (Ribble & Bailey, 2004). While the misuse of digital technology has many underlying causes, it would seem reasonable to suggest that the lack of education is a contributing factor (Ribble, 2004). Education, specifically the offering of a digital citizen curriculum, and its influence on the use of technology, is addressed by this research. A basic tenet of our educational system is to provide an educated citizenship as proposed by James Madison in The Federalists Papers. This concept is as important today as it was years ago when the founders proposed our democratic republic. The misuse of technology is not in congruence with good citizenship. The research question addressed: Does exposure to Digital Citizenship Influence the normative behavior of students as it relates to the use of technology? The goal of this quasi-experimental research is two-fold: to add to the limited research pertaining to Digital Citizenship and to measure the influence on use/misuse of technology a Digital Citizenship curriculum adapted and implemented at an urban school located in the Northeast based upon the guide created by Ribble & Bailey (2004). Participants in the study included students (treatment group, n = 75) exposed to the curriculum and students (control group, n = 75) not exposed to the curriculum. Instrumentation used in the study was based on Ribble's (2004) “Digital Driver’s License” for secondary students. The researcher administered the Ribble (2004) licensed instrument as both pre and post tests/surveys. Data indicated a significant difference in students’ normative behavior of technology use when exposed to the Digital Citizenship curriculum. The areas of gain were Digital Etiquette (Group B, F=29.301, p=.000, m=.64, Group A, m=.24), Digital Communication (Group B, F=6.402, p=.012, m=.68, Group A, m=.55), Digital Literacy (Group B, F=4.722, p=.031, m=.73, Group A, m=.64), Digital Commerce (Group B, F=5.619, p=.019, m=.67, Group A, m=.49), Digital Law (Group B, F=4.880, p=.029, m=.65 Group A, m=.45), Digital Rights and Responsibilities (Group B, F=11.86, p=.001, m=.72, Group A, m=.48, and Digital Health and Wellness (Group B, F=28.140 p=.000, m=60 Group A, m=.20). Based on the study's outcomes, more research is needed targeting technology usage. The data collected provides a foundation for further study which will help our educational leaders address curricula issues involving ethical technology use in our schools and home.

Subject Area

Ethics|Educational technology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Boyle, Clifton J., "The effectiveness of a Digital Citizenship curriculum in an urban school" (2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3404228.