Considering Design: The Challenges of Assessing Multimodal Texts

Considering Design: The Challenges of Assessing Multimodal Texts

Nicholas E. Husbye, Julie Rust
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4345-1.ch009
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Technology continues to change the possibilities for text creation within the classroom, promoting student engagement in multimodal text production. Such a shift requires corresponding shifts in assessment discourses, from a justification for assigning a particular grade to a reflection of both the students’ learning and intention. This chapter presents insights from classroom researchers as they engage in multimodal text creation with both elementary and secondary students, highlighting the tensions present in attempting multimodal text creation with students while attempting to adapt print-centric assessment models. This work suggests a needed move away from traditional assessment tools, such as rubrics, and an increased awareness on behalf of teachers in regards to the intentions of students within the multimodal text creation process.
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Theoretical Framework

We approach this work as literacy scholars, interested in the ways individuals “learn to mean,” as framed by Halliday (1975). Our work is influenced by perspectives on literacy not as “an armoury of concepts, conventions and practice” (Street, 1985, p. 38) but as embedded within social practices that evolve at a rapid pace (Appadurai, 1990; Kalantzis, Cope, & Harvey, 2003) and is mediated via a variety of communication channels constituted largely by digital media (Boulter, 1999; Kress, 2010). New Literacy Studies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000;New London Group, 1996) shifts understandings of literacy from skills derived from the manipulation of symbol systems to a concept that is nestled amongst social, historical, and cultural contexts. In this way, literacy networks become inherent only in the examination of “socially organized practices [that] make use of a symbol system and a technology for producing and disseminating it” (Scribner & Cole, 1981, p. 236). Expanding upon the concept of literacy within the New Literacy Studies, Cope & Kalantzis (2000) further delineate the use of technology in the process of being literate, attending to the ways in which individuals in contemporary times experience “increased multiplicity and integration of significant modes of meaning making, where the textual is also related to the visual, the audio, the spatial, the behavioral, and so on” (p. 5).

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