Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Timothy Stafford

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Julie McElhany

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Billie McConnell



This qualitative case study investigated the perceived impact of the digital divide on rural U.S. community college students. An online survey was conducted of adult community college students at a rural community college. In addition, volunteer faculty at the same institution were interviewed through Zoom. The purpose of the student surveys and faculty interviews was to determine the impact of the digital divide on rural community college students and the ways in which these students seek to overcome the divide. This study used a theoretical framework that combined aspects of the situational theory of problem solving (STOPS) with the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) to understand the factors that influence a student’s ability to overcome the digital divide. This study used census data from the county where the college is located and surrounding counties to demonstrate the current availability of high-speed internet access in the area. This study found that the digital divide remains a challenge for rural community college students. The first-level digital divide, or the access divide, and the second-level digital divide, or the digital literacy divide, are barriers to student success at rural community colleges. These students employ a variety of methods to overcome the challenges they face because of the digital divide.

Keywords: digital divide, high-speed Internet access, computer ownership, smartphones, first-level digital divide, second-level digital divide

Creative Commons License

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



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