Assessing Multimodal Work

The methods used to determine the value of multimodal student work can be as creative as the work itself. To assess student work across modes such as hypertext, video, audio, animation, and presentation, digital compositionists advocate moving away from static, alphanumeric specific rubrics.

Composition specialists often suggest networked assessment. The public dimension of new media allows students to become producers as well as consumers of knowledge. The shift toward digital production provides an occasion for writing assessment to become, “a social, collaborative, publically focused activity” (“Discourses, Rhetorics, Selves: Writing Assessment in the Academy.”)

The following framework from the National Writing Project Multimodal Assessment Project provides ways to approach multimodal composition at Emory. The framework makes it possible to assess student work in multiple modes and contexts; value the interaction between modes; and refrain from privileging one mode over another.

  • Context: we can grow in our awareness of and attention to the context/situation in which we are working and for which we are composing. This includes the rhetorical context of audience, purpose, and occasion; circulation context of the distribution environment; expectations for form and genre; etc.; the assignment if there is one or expectations of a discourse community
  • Artifact: we can grow in our capacities to design and produce the pieces themselves, including developing our capacities to manage the technical elements and affordances in the medium of composition, and to use them for effect in ever more powerful ways
  • Process Management: we can grow in our abilities to plan, implement, and assess our work; to find and manage resources and digital assets that we use in composing; to reflect on our performance and to collaborate effectively (particularly given the fact that so many multimodal projects are produced by teams)

Substance/Content: we can grow in the quality and sophistication of what we are communicating in our work; we can improve the quality and power of the ideas or content, the credibility of the information, the depth of the story or argument

  • Habits of Mind: we can develop, in an ongoing way over time, dispositions and capacities that will serve us well in life as a productive and creative individual.

Further Reading

Ball, Cheryl. “Assessing Scholarly Multimedia.” Technical Communication Quarterly 21.1 (2012): 61-77.

Murray, Elisabeth A., Hailey A. Sheets, and Williams, Nicole A. “The New Work of Assessment: Evaluating Multimodal Compositions.” Computers and Composition Online n. pag. Web. 26 Aug. 2013.

Shipka, Jody. “Negotiating Rhetorical, Material, Methodological, and Technical Difference: Evaluating Multimodal Designs.” CCC 61.1 (2009): 343-66.

Whithaus et. al. “The NWP Multimodal Assessment Project.”

Yancy, Kathleen Blake, Founder of the Journal, Assessing Student Writing.

—–. “Discourses, Rhetorics, Selves: Writing Assessment in the Academy.” Speaker Series. Ed. Lillian Bridewell-Bowles. Minneapolis: Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2001.

—–. “Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment.” CCC 50.3 (1999): 483-503.

—–. “Writing in the 21st Century: A Report from the National Council of Teachers of English.”