Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Instructional Technology and Educational Studies

Major Professor

Jay A. Pfaffman

Committee Members

Michael L. Waugh, Gina K. Phipps


This study analyzes the technology experience and knowledge of students of the generation of digital natives at the University of Tennessee. In an online survey students were asked about their experience and knowledge of certain software applications, their daily computer habits and their ability and skills to troubleshoot a malfunctioning computer.

In general, the results show that students’ computer experience and knowledge are limited to a specific set of software applications that is widened according to required needs. Students are knowledgeable in web browsing, using word processors, course management software and email. If academic courses require them, students learn how to use other software applications, such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. At the same time a majority of students show a limited set of troubleshooting skills. A high percentage would still be able to resolve virus or spyware issues, but if it came to troubleshooting other problems, such as a malfunctioning network connection or a computer that doesn’t boot, they would consult an expert right away without attempting to resolve the issue themselves.

Though the majority of students did not wish for more computer integration in their courses, they wished that their education of computer skills in high school had prepared them better for college. At the same time students show a lack of interest in computer workshops, which could improve these skills. They are rather interested in learning computer skills for their personal use, such as Adobe Photoshop or web design.

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