The concept of digital competences incorporates the effective use of constantly-changing digital tools and media for learning and performing digital tasks, digital behaviours (such as online communication, teamwork, ethical sharing of information), as well as digital mindsets that value lifelong digital learning and development. The current pandemic crisis has accelerated the need to diagnose and understand more systematically Higher Education students’ digital competences and the way in which they shape academic performance and outcomes. This empirical study explores the digital competences of students, studying in Law related courses, by means of a self-assessment survey tool, which has been previously tested with information and library science students, and was developed to study students’ technology mastery (i.e. the abilities, competences, capabilities and skills required for using digital technology, media and tools) and their digital citizenship mindsets (consisting of attitudes and behaviours necessary to develop as a critical, reflective and lifelong learners). The study found age demographic differences, which presented significant correlations pointing to the presence of diverse levels of competences in the student group. Correlation statistics of the survey data demonstrated that students’ prior everyday participation as a digital citizen was connected to a number of important academic skills, such as the ability to identify information in different contexts, students’ digital learning and development, their digital abilities to complete academic work, their information literacy skills and their skills around managing their digital wellbeing and identity. Focus groups data with academics revealed that they valued the development of students’ digital competences for the purposes of learning, while studying at university and placed less emphasis on digital citizenship skills. These academics also considered the value of digital platforms and tools (the focus on ‘ICT Proficiency’) to be more relevant for academic study than digital citizenship mindsets.
MARTZOUKOU, K., KOSTAGIOLAS, P., LAVRANOS, C., LAUTERBACH, T. and FULTON, C. 2021. A study of university law students' self-perceived digital competences. Journal of librarianship and information science [online], Online First. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1177/09610006211048004