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Friday, January 13 • 10:40am - 11:00am
"Pre-service teachers engage in multimodal assessments to design learning opportunities for identifying and engaging in 21st C skills"

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Purpose: Multimodal composing (MMC) (Yancy, 2009) in teacher education assignments was investigated for information on fostering pre-service teachers’ (PSTs) use of MMC in their lesson planning and curricular design. The study addressed the problem of continued privileging of print text in secondary English Language Arts for reading and writing. MMC has potential to engage writers in the writing process, with the intention of then bridging to academic writing (Miller et al., 2013); however, Selfe (2007) notes that MMC, when used as a heuristic, frames it as “less than” print essays. MMC brings writing into the 21st Century, and promotes expression and use of writing for their own purpose as a schooled task (Beach et. al, 2016) grounded in writing expectations that do more to sort students, using academic-writing tasks as gatekeepers. Purposeful engagement of PSTs with MMC assignments in teacher education curricula revealed challenges and potential for transfer to PSTs’ own classroom practice.

         Method: The integration of New Media Literacies (NMLs) in courses designed for secondary-teacher candidates models approaches to increase engagement in secondary-classrooms (Jenkins et al., 2006) and involving students as participants in academic learning. Knowing that, I asked: How can PSTs be supported and encouraged to integrate MMC in their classrooms in critical and meaningful ways? Drawing from narrative inquiry and qualitative methods, PSTs’ use of MMC in required assignments was investigated, with data collection of the assignments, class discussions, and semi-structured interviews. Participants included 36 PSTs enrolled in a teacher-education program whose mission was to prepare them for urban, high-needs schools.

         Findings and Implications: Results showed that the 21st C skills of critical-thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, innovation, and adaptability were developed as PSTs engaged in MMC. Initially, the first MMC posed the challenge of expectations and assessment, leading to collaborative problem-solving.

         Participants saw how critical thinking was connected to MMC production when their first assignments were critiqued for lack of depth and complexity (an emergent problem of unclear expectations). The class worked collaboratively to develop assessment criteria. The literature on assessment is nascent and not centered on common approaches, allowing for innovation in developing assessment criteria of process, depth and complexity in meeting assignment’s purpose, application/media appropriate, and demonstrated understanding. It was agreed that each criterion would be flexible enough to address varied purposes and products. Problematizing measurements for the criteria required critical thinking.

         Additionally, PSTs shared that they felt adapting to what was, for most of them, a new mode of expression, produced innovation in addressing the goals of the assessments. In their planning, they all included MMC to varied extents: some as an add-on, some with unclear learning outcomes, and a few with robust integration to support students in complex meaning-making.

            Implications for teacher education are to foreground MMC, and provide student-centered discussions of expectations, assessment criteria, and purpose. This process proved to support PSTs’ use of 21st Century skills, serving as a model for desired student-centered, authentic classroom practices. 


Beach, R., & Thein, A. H., & Webb, A. (2012). Teaching to Exceed The English       Language Arts Common Core State Standards. New York, NY: Rutledge.

Jenkins, H., et al. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media

education for the 21st century. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 1 Mar 2007 from: http://www.digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

Miller, S. A., Knips, M. A., & Goss, S. (2013). Changing the game of literature with authentic assessment: The promise of multimodal composing. English Journal, 103(1), 88-94.

Selfe, C. L. (2007). Multimodal composition: Resources for teachers. Cresskill, NY: Hampton Press. Retrieved from http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs3100/selfe2007.pdf

Yancy, K. B. (2009). Writing in the 21st century. A Report from the National Council of

Teachers of English. Downloaded from www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Press/Yancey_final.pdf

avatar for Karen Ward

Karen Ward

Faculty, CalStateTEACH

avatar for Paula M. Carbone

Paula M. Carbone

Associate Professor of Clinical Education, University of Southern California
My lifelong commitment to social justice in education focuses my current work as a teacher-educator at USC. Technology's potential to flatten hierarchies through engagement of students in participatory cultures, innovation and creativity is, unfortunately, only realized by some... Read More →

Friday January 13, 2017 10:40am - 11:00am PST