How do students use digital technology to manage their university-based data: Strategies, accumulation difficulties and feelings of overload?

Elizabeth Sillence*, Jordan Dawson, Kerry McKellar, Nick Neave

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Technology to enable and support learning and teaching is widespread in university settings. One consequence of such technology use is the accumulation of large volumes of digital data. The acquisition of, and failure to, discard digital content can lead to digital clutter. The potential negative consequences of digital clutter have been examined mainly within a workplace context. Far less is known about how university students manage their academic digital data and whether they have strategies to deal with excessive digital clutter. Eighteen undergraduate students took part in a one-to-one or group-based interview to discuss their digital data management strategies including accumulation and deletion behaviours. Thematic analysis led to three themes: (1) Digital data accumulation across the student journey (2) Reactive and evolving digital data management strategies and (3) Data overload: Anxiety, loss of productivity and feeling overwhelmed. The findings capture the complexity of feelings students have about different types of digital technology and the strategies they use to manage increasingly large volumes of digital data. Findings are discussed in relation to the need for better support and guidance for students around the use of digital technology to manage their data during their time at university.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Sep 2022

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