Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Thomas V. O'Brien

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



This research study was conducted to examine the efficacy of using an online survey to assess the literacy proficiency of college students in an area of the United States with historically low socioeconomic status. Two research questions were written to guide the study:

R1. What is the factor structure of the Online Collegiate Literacy Scale?

R2. What relationship exists between literacy and college students from areas of the United States with a high concentration of poverty?

A literacy measure was created and evaluated in three steps: writing and pretest by subject matter experts; pilot test; and data collection and data analysis. The study was created and administered in Qualtrics®. Once data were collected, they were used to examine the factor structure of the literacy assessment through an exploratory factor analysis (EFA). A four-factor model was suggested by the EFA, and the factors were identified as the ability to locate information; the ability to understand what is being asked; the ability to access prior knowledge; and the ability to reflect and evaluate.

Subsequently, a hierarchical multiple regression was performed to determine whether the predictor variables of family income, age, race, level of education, high school grade point average, parents’ level of education were correlated with literacy proficiency. Two of the predictor variables were statistically significant with literacy proficiency, and they explained 8% of the variance in scores. The factor’s Z scores were then included in the regression analysis based on a review of literature. An additional 80% of variance in the test scores was predicted by the Z scores, indicating a strong correlation between literacy scores and the four factors denoted by the EFA.



Available for download on Monday, June 01, 2026