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Multimodal Writing Assessment_Annotated Bibliography

Eidman-Aadahl, Elyse, Kristine Blair, Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Will Hochman, Lanette Jimerson, Chuck Jurich, Sandy Murphy, Becky Rupert, Carl Whithaus, and Joe Wood. “Developing Domains for Multimodal Writing Assessment: The Language of Evaluation, the Language of Instruction.” Eds.  Heidi A. McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. Digital Writing: Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web. 30 Jan 2014.

This article, written by the Multimodal Assessment Project (MAP) committee for the National Writing Project’s Digital Is…Initiative, identifies five domains they believe are “vital for the assessment of digital writing offers the possibility that the language of assessment can inform—and build upon—discussions more often associated with interaction, instruction, and text creation than with evaluation”: 1) artifact (“the finished product”), 2) context (“the world around the artifact, around the creation of the artifact, and how the artifact enters, circulates, and fits into the world”), 3) substance (“the content and overall quality and significance of the ideas presented”), 4) process management and technique (“the skills, capacities, and processes involved in planning, creating, and circulating multimodal artifacts”), and 5) habits of mind (“patterns of behavior or attitudes that reach beyond the artifact being created at the moment”). The authors elaborate on the definitions of these five domains by centering each one on a specific example of a student(s) project that they feel best exemplifies each domain. My favorite example was that of context with the example being a class/individual project of creating war poems based on The Things They Carried and the class’ microblog. Each example represents a multimodal project incorporated into a grade school classroom and the strengths and weaknesses that were demonstrated in the final “artifact.” MAP, with its emphasis on the five domains as the focal point, suggest that such projects could encourages students to become active producers of rhetoric and more aware of how they and others are using rhetorical strategies, and be a progressive step towards a better understanding of how to evaluate multimodal projects that go beyond the uniform writing skills that are being taught in accordance with standardized testing.

This article was very surprising in just how creative the grade school multimodal project instructions and productions were. The aim of the MAP committee’s project was interesting in that it founded itself upon multimodality, with an emphasis on how students and teachers were operating within rhetorical genres. I was heavily reminded of the reading by Miller (with her idea of fluid motivations for genres) and Popham (with her dissection of boundary genres and the cohesion and tension such meldings can bring). The Google Earth Historical Figures Tour (not quite the right name for the project, but still) was a fascinating boundary genre because students were drawing on skills learned in history and English courses, using technology as the go-between despite that level of technology being an unexpected surprise to the teachers who had simply expected students to use the more traditional PowerPoint. The article itself presented alternatives to the standardized writing assessments that are lacking in many areas that multimodal writing projects could unveil, such as a student’s growing awareness of situational needs that would play into the rhetorical choices they make with their work. By picking and choosing among existing projects being done in various schools (and even a camp setting at a university) the authors did a nice job of uncovering just how well K-12 grade students can learn to adjust and even thrive with writing assignments that go beyond the traditional print platform and the new skill sets that emerge when rhetorical forms are being engaged by youths who are learning to navigate what can be accomplished with advancements in technology while still retaining and honing skills that can be learned with more traditional modes of communication.

In terms of the Theories of Networks course, this article seems especially useful in that multimodal writing assignments create a network unto themselves between different kinds of technologies, students and teachers, students and students, and students, teachers, and larger audiences involved. One particular example in the article that stood out to me in terms of how a project discussed by the authors became more than just a project but a network of skills and participants/creators was that of the website created by the girls at a technology camp. The girls were broken into groups of 3 and given a short amount of time to create a website that reflected their own emerging digital identities but also that of the camp itself. By collaborating so regularly on specific projects, the girls became a network of shared skills and well as a collective intelligence about the project and camp as a whole. This network then grew larger as the website was put on display as the final project to visiting family members, but then attained a greater sense of network as the aim of the project was to be used for potential campers and their parents. The girls involved essentially created a network between themselves as existing campers, the camp leaders, and anyone interested in the camp as a camper or as the guardian of a potential camper. The multimodality of the project is a physical representation of the collaborative nature of the camp and the relationships between the campers that made the website possible.

Music with Which to Celebrate Multimodality