Spotlight on Scholarship:
Recent Work by HCTD members


Earnheardt, A. C., Earnheardt, M. B. & Rubin, R. B. (2008) Development and test of an internet search and evaluation measure. Ohio Communication Journal, 46(1), 45-72.

An important feature of the Internet is the user’s ability to search for specific content. This goal-oriented use indicates an active user, someone who must possess a certain skill, at a specific level, to accomplish a goal. We created an instrument -- the Internet Search Evaluation Measure (ISEM) -- to measure Internet search competency. The purpose of creating the ISEM was to diagnose the skill set necessary for people to use the Internet successfully when conducting searches. Identifying these skills may provide insight into the best way to teach Internet users how to search for information and should help bridge the digital divide.

Hargittai, E. & Hinnant, A. (2008). Digital Inequality: Differences in young adults' use of the Internet. Communication Research. 35(5), 602-621.

This article expands understanding of the digital divide to more nuanced measures of use by examining differences in young adults'online activities. Young adults are the most highly connected age group, but that does not mean that their Internet uses are homogenous. Analyzing data about the Web uses of 270 adults from across the United States, the article explores the differences in 18- to 26-year-olds' online activities and what social factors explain the variation. Findings suggest that those with higher levels of education and of a more resource-rich background use the Web for more "capital-enhancing" activities. Detailed analyses of user attributes also reveal that online skill is an important mediating factor in the types of activities people pursue online. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for a "second-level digital divide," that is, differences among the population of young adult Internet users.  Keywords: skill; self-perceived knowledge; Internet; Web use; online behavior; young adults; digital divide

Stephens, K. K., Søørnes, J. O, Rice, R. E., Browning, L. D., & Sæætre, A. S. (2008). Discrete, sequential, and follow-up use of information and communication technology by managerial knowledge workers. Management Communication Quarterly, 22, 197-231.

Most prior media use research has assumed that people use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) independently of other ICTs, that is, as discrete media. This study used cross-organizational in-depth interview data to uncover the important role that ICT sequences play in persuasion, information exchange, and documentation. The primary occasions for sequential ICT use were (a) preparing for meetings, (b) working independently, and (c) following-up to persuade. When people need to follow-up initial communication episodes, the overall groupings of ICTs represent two underlying attributes: degree of connection with others and extent of synchroneity. These findings support an expanded perspective on Media Richness Theory and Information Theory by illustrating that ICT sequences can expand cues and channels, and provide error-reducing redundancy for equivocal and uncertain tasks.