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Title page for ETD etd-03252014-191854

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Smith, Blaine Elizabeth
URN etd-03252014-191854
Title Composing Across Modes: Urban Adolescents' Processes Responding to and Analyzing Literature
Degree PhD
Department Learning, Teaching and Diversity
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bridget Dalton Committee Co-Chair
Deborah Wells Rowe Committee Co-Chair
Kevin Leander Committee Member
Steve Graham Committee Member
  • multimodality
  • multimodal composition
  • adolescent literacy
  • digital literacies
  • multimodal methods
Date of Defense 2013-06-28
Availability unrestricted
Although a large body of research has examined the processes of writing, much less is known about how adolescents compose with multiple modes in digital environments. This qualitative study explores how students collaboratively composed across three different digital multimodal projects—a website, hypertext analysis, and podcast—that responded to and analyzed a work of literature. Multimodality and multiliteracies theoretical frameworks were integrated to better understand students’ use of modes (e.g., text, sound, images, video, animation) within the broader sociocultural context. Comparative case study methods were employed to glean a fine-grained and nuanced understanding of how three pairs of students composed during a scaffolded 7-week multimodal workshop in an urban 12th grade English classroom. Data sources included screen capture and video observations for each workshop session, student retrospective design interviews and written reflections for each project, as well as field notes, process work, and final multimodal products. Findings revealed that composing with multiple modes in response to literature was a complex, dynamic, and varied process mediated by the interaction of multiple factors, including students’ modal preferences and skills, composing tools, and multimodal assignments. There were three types of collaborative styles, with division of labor based on composers’ technical experience, content knowledge, and personal interests. Students exhibited modal preferences when working with open and flexible compositional tools—often entering into each project in a similar way, spending a majority of workshop time working with that particular mode, and relying on it to carry the communicative weight of their projects. Multimodal composing timescapes revealed that students increasingly traversed across modes as they worked on their compositions. Students also expressed composing goals focused on affective response, entertaining their audience, and expressing themselves as composers. They also worked intentionally to create modally cohesive designs in response to literature. These findings contribute to the field’s developing conception of multimodal composition processes within the context of a high school scaffolded digital writers workshop. The development of the multimodal composing timescape contributes to multimodal methods of data analysis and representation.
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