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UTSA’s commitment to digital literacy gives students a competitive edge

UTSA’s commitment to digital literacy gives students a competitive edge

OCTOBER 25, 2021 — Students earned higher grades and demonstrated deeper learning due to UTSA’s commitment to innovative faculty development, courses and tools, says a new report by Adobe, Civitas Learning, and LinkedIn.

UTSA, California State University Fullerton (CSUF) and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) were examined in the report Improving Student Outcomes: The Impact of Creative Skills on College and Career. The study was conducted during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years and is the first to examine how Adobe tools in curricula can impact student success. The study’s authors found that UTSA had “the broadest and deepest evidence of impact,” and its Creative Cloud “implementation was most strategic in integrating across a diverse variety of courses.”


“UTSA has done a fantastic job in preparing me to help students meet the expectations of today’s digital-centric workforce.”



“By providing critical support programs and trainings for faculty, we ensured that the integration of Adobe Creative Cloud into coursework accelerated students’ use of these tools,” says Melissa Vito, vice provost of academic innovation. “UTSA’s purposeful commitment to student success through inclusive pedagogy, digital literacy, and an equitable distribution of tools and resources was critical to sparking these positive outcomes.”

The study first matched Creative Cloud courses to equivalent non-Creative Cloud courses and then matched students. The process helped mitigate self-selection bias and allowed for an apples-to-apples comparison.

Notably, traditionally underserved students showed statistically significant improvements in success indicators than equally-matched students in non-Creative Cloud courses. Black/African American students earned .52 higher average course grades, and Hispanic/Latino students earned .20 higher average course grades on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, all undergrads in courses that integrated Creative Cloud tools earned .23 higher average course grades.

Classes that used Creative Cloud tools also showed an increase in students’ course mastery, defined as the number of students who received A/B grades. For example, all undergraduates earned 4.5% more A/B grades, and Black/African American students earned 13.7% more A/B grades than undergraduates in non-Creative Cloud courses.

“These improvements could be the difference between qualifying for a scholarship or getting on the Dean’s list,” said Ryan McPherson, an associate professor of practice in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. “What’s amazing is that I would build certain Adobe tools into my course, but then students would use additional Adobe tools to enrich their work, contributing to deeper understanding of the course content.” 

McPherson has invested a lot of time to promote digital literacy and integrate Adobe tools into his courses. He credits UTSA Academic Innovation’s numerous training programs and its network of faculty members for helping him recognize the value and impact of Adobe tools.

“You don’t have to be one of our communication or multidisciplinary majors to see the value of the Creative Cloud tools,” McPherson said. “When they enter their careers, students are expected to be able to both contribute and benefit through the digital ecosystem. UTSA has done a fantastic job in preparing me to help students meet the expectations of today’s digital-centric workforce.”

McPherson’s success is just a single example of UTSA’s commitment to faculty development. Overall, Academic Innovation has conducted more than 150 training sessions with 700 faculty, staff, and students and produced over 150 training videos. As of fall 2021, more than 50 classes have integrated Adobe tools into curricula across disciplines.

Adobe also noted that data from LinkedIn indicated that “employers hiring job candidates with creative skills like critical thinking and creative problem solving increased by 78%” since 2019, and graduates who listed “creative skills on their LinkedIn profiles secured up to 16% higher starting salaries.”

“Our latest study shows that not only do certain skills deliver better student outcomes, they deliver better outcomes for the institutions that invest in teaching them,” said Mala Sharma, vice president and general manager of Creative Cloud product marketing and community and digital media education at Adobe. “When schools maximize their investments in Adobe Creative Cloud across the curriculum, students who are least likely to progress see a bigger benefit, proving creative and digital literacy skills can even serve as an equalizer.”

Vito and McPherson will discuss their unique perspectives on the importance of digital literacy, course design, and the impact of innovative tools during an October 26 session at the 2021 Adobe MAX Conference. The report and Adobe MAX session come as UTSA celebrates its second anniversary as an Adobe Creative Campus—the first four-year public university in Texas to carry that distinction.

Read the full report on Civitas Learning. To find more information about Adobe at UTSA, as well as a full suite of tools and training, visit Academic Innovation’s website.

Brett W. Copeland



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.