Literacy Learning and Assessment for the Digital Age

Literacy Learning and Assessment for the Digital Age

April Marie Leach (Northcentral University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch249
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Abstract

Multiple forms of media or multimodal media (MMM) available to communicate have expanded the definition of literacy beyond “alphabetical communication” and assessment (Kalantzis, & Cope, 2012; Kress, 2003; Kress, & Leeuwen, 2006). Reading and writing as traditional forms of literacy now encompass digital media. These technologies afford opportunities for the design of communication that incorporates the senses of sight, sound, and movement as part of the message. Newly possible modes of communication require of creators the ability to craft and manipulate these multiple modes of media, and require that interpreters formerly thought of as readers, develop the ability to understand these modes of meaning making as contemporary literacy pedagogy. Reconceptualizing both the interpretation of multiple modes of media and learning how to craft interdisciplinary MMM to address the requirements of the Common Core State Standards and college and career readiness is the new frontier in literacy learning in this first digital age.
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Introduction

Education is now at the juncture of a massive shift in the philosophy and methodologies used to develop critical thinkers for our era (Capello, Felini, & Hobbs, 2011; Cho, 2010; Edwards-Groves, 2012; Hobbs, 2011; U.S. Department of Education, 2012). As technology makes emerging authentic literacies that meet and morph with traditional concepts of literacy possible, the idea of developing critical thinking through the collaborative study and construction of multimodal media and the dramatic arts is becoming accepted as a valuable pedagogy (Beagle, 2010; Literacy Research Association, 2012). Scholars who have researched and written about this topic from theoretical perspectives of pedagogy, psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, seem to agree on this focus for the future (Cloonan, 2011; Coiro, 2012; Hobbs, 2011; Rogow, 2011; Rosser, 2011; Sousa & Tomlinson, 2011). The importance of integrating digital media literacy into education curricula to teach and provide opportunities to practice and assess the skills needed for employment in the public and private sectors of a connected global economy, also referred to as evidence or performance based learning, is acknowledged across academic, governmental, and independent scholars concerned with education (Ferdig & Pytash, 2014; Rifkin, 2012; U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2013).

Underlying theoretical constructs that support literacy learning through student produced multimodal media (MMM) will be examined. Answers are sought to the epistemological question of how to integrate existing research with evolving multiple literacies theories that can suggest highly engaging and effective methods to teach, motivate, and connect student learning to the real world (Allington, 2012; Dalton & Proctor, 2007; Gambrell, Del Nero, & Duke, 2011). Theories that contribute to the understanding of multiple literacies and MMM as a literacy tool form a theoretical network that bridges across several perspectives as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Theories contributing to a Unified Theory of Digital Era Literacy (UTDEL)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Possible Selves: A motivational component referred to as “possible selves” has been designed and researched that builds this explicit component into literacy instruction ( Hock, Deshler, Schumaker, 2011 ; Markus & Nurius, 1986 ; Young, 2011 AU73: The in-text citation "Young, 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). This motivational theory is incorporated into the treatment design based on firsthand experience of its efficacy where this researcher took part in a study by Hock and his research team in South Florida in 2007 and 2008.

Authentic Literacies: Authentic literacies are modes of literate expression that contribute equally important educational value for the 21 st century as traditional literacy commonly understood as the ability to read and write. These literacies include becoming knowledgeable about and proficient at critiquing and creating demonstrations of understanding that include producing digital media. Video, animation, images, movement, sound, and music can be incorporated into digital media, and constitute veritable emerging communication basics that can be utilized as educational tools to prepare students to become literate citizens in the 21st century global economy (Author’s definition).

Multiple Literacies: This term refers to emerging modes of communication around the globe that are possible due to emerging technologies that can be harnessed for educational purposes. These technologies include, but are not limited to, video, motion picture production, television, audio broadcasting, live video conferencing, and massive multiplayer educational gaming.

Multimodal Media (MMM): Reading and writing that now encompass digital media are referred to as multimodal media. Digital technologies afford opportunities for the design of modes of expression that can include print or digital text, images, gestures, sound, and movement. These modes can be used individually or in various combinations to communicate. When used in the context of pedagogy the phrase multimodal refers to an interconnection between different modes or representations of media to convey meaning beyond “alphabetical communication.” New modes of communication require not only the ability to craft and manipulate media in new ways; they also require that interpreters, also known as readers, develop the ability to understand these modes of meaning making as contemporary literacy pedagogy (Archer,(2008) AU72: The in-text citation "Archer,(2008)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B., (2012) ; Kress, G (2003); Kress, G., & Leeuwen, T.V. (2006) .

Semiotic Awareness: The word semiotic originates from the Greek semeîon , 'sign' and was first used by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure to describe the study of signs used to communicate which include not only text but sounds, gestures and body awareness. In contemporary usage among literacy researchers this phrase refers to being sensitive to the myriad possibilities or signs in which communication may be made (Batu, 2012 AU74: The in-text citation "Batu, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Kress, 2012 AU75: The in-text citation "Kress, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; McDonald, 2012 AU76: The in-text citation "McDonald, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Transduction: This word is a verb that describes a cognitive process that occurs in the brain as it reconfigures and reshapes knowledge that is represented across different modes of expression. A mode of expression can be written language which can then be synthesized by the brain in order to be represented in another mode such as verbal communication or a video. Transduction can be said to have occurred when this shift is successfully navigated from one semiotic mode of expression of understanding to another semiotic mode of expressing that same understanding ( Hakkarainen, 2011 ; Kress, Van Leeuwen, 2010 AU77: The in-text citation "Kress, Van Leeuwen, 2010" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). The words transforming or transformational are used to describe the process of transduction (Young & Rasinski, 2013 AU78: The in-text citation "Young & Rasinski, 2013" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Multimodal Composing: Compositions that include print and non-print texts, video, digitally generated images, voice, sound, music, and movement used to communicate and demonstrate learning are considered to be multimodal composing. This term is used interchangeably with the term multimedia production ( Miller & McVee, 2012 ).

Critical Thinking: “Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it” (Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2013 AU68: The in-text citation "Critical Thinking, 2013" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). New standardized tests aligned to the CCSS such as the Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC, 2012 AU69: The in-text citation "PARCC, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC, 2013 AU70: The in-text citation "SBAC, 2013" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ) are being developed to measure students’ ability to think critically across content areas. This phrase “critical thinking” is reiterated in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS, 2013 AU71: The in-text citation "CCSS, 2013" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ) and is employed similarly in this study.

Multiple Intelligences: Howard Gardner posited a theory of multiple intelligences that offered an expanded definition of what constitutes traditionally held ideas about intelligence. These categories introduced educators to a more holistic approach to understanding the styles, strengths, and capacities of their students to learn. Broader constructs about the many facets that comprise intelligence provide an environment of teachers and student the compassion and understanding to encourage them to contribute their understanding in a variety of valuable ways. Gardner proposed nine different types of intelligence: Logical Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Musical/Rhythmic, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Naturalist, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Existential ( Gardner, 1999 )

Flow: The founder of the discipline referred to as “Positive Psychology,” Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi coined the phrase “flow” to describe the state of becoming so absorbed in the creativity of the work we are doing that we lose track of time, and all distractions fade into the background. This concept of “flow” contributes to the study’s model because it supports strong best practices such as the incorporation of clear goals, detailed feedback, and a balance between challenges and skills. This is the state of engagement the study will strive to create; when learning becomes the end in itself ( Csikszentmihalyi, 2000 ; Sami & Csikszentmihalyi, 2012 ).

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