The digital competence of university students: a systematic literature review

Anna Sánchez-Caballé, Mercè Gisbert-Cervera, Francesc Esteve-Mon


Digital competence is a pressing need for students in the 21st century. The present study is a systematic review of the literature on university students’ digital abilities. The methodology consisted of selecting documents (n=126) from three different databases (Scopus, Web of Science and ERIC) via peer review. The documents were selected for inclusion following predefined criteria and then analysed using a qualitative analysis software (ATLAS.ti). Digital competence is made up of several elements (information skills, content creation, communication, ethical skills, problem solving, technical skills/use and strategic skills). We identified that the most frequently-used terms in the literature are digital literacy and digital competence. However, the terminology used varies among authors. We also found that most authors do not believe that young people actually have the digital abilities that they are assumed to have. In other words, students do not have a high level of digital competence. Educational institutions therefore need to help them to develop this competence, which is so necessary in the context of 21st century education.

Palabras clave

digital competence; digital literacy; university; higher education; systematic literature review

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Copyright (c) 2020 Anna Sánchez-Caballé, Mercè Gisbert-Cervera, Francesc Esteve-Mon

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Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.

Índexs de qualitat / Quality indexes / Índices de calidad: 

  • Web of Science (Emerging Sources Citation Index, ESCI) 
  • MIAR (Matriu d'Informació per a l'Avaluació de Revistes)  ICDS : 7.8
  • REDIB (Red Iberoamericana de Innovación y Conocimiento Científico)
  • ISOC-Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades (CINDOC-CSIC) 
  • CARHUS Plus 
  • CIRC (Clasificación Integrada de Revistas Científicas) 
  • DICE (Difusión y Calidad Editorial de las Revistas Españolas de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales y Jurídicas) 
  • RESH (Revistas Españolas de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas).
  • Latindex
  • Google Scholar
Repositoris / Repositories / Repositorios:
  • RACO (Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert) Los artículos publicados en los números anteriores al nº27 se pueden descargar en formato pdf en
  • Dialnet 
  • Psicodoc