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Student perspectives on multimodal composing in the L2 classroom: tensions with audience, media, learning and sharing

Emily Hellmich (College of Humanities, French and Italian, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Jill Castek (College of Education, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Blaine E. Smith (College of Education, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Rachel Floyd (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Wen Wen (College of Education, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 8 February 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021

276

Abstract

Purpose

Multimodal composing is often romanticized as a flexible approach suitable for all learners. There is a lack of research that critically examines students’ perspectives and the constraints of multimodal composing across academic contexts. This study aims to address this need by exploring high school learners’ perspectives and experiences enacting multimodal learning in an L2 classroom. More specifically, this study presents key tensions between students’ experiences of multimodal composing and teacher/researchers’ use of multimodal composition in an L2 classroom setting.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper focuses on two multimodal composing projects developed within a design-based implementation research approach and implemented in a high school French class. Multiple data sources were used: observations; interviews; written reflections; and multimodal compositions. Data were analyzed using the critical incident technique (CIT). A critical incident is one that is unplanned and that stimulates reflection on teaching and learning. Methodologically, CIT was enacted through iterative coding to identify critical incidents and collaborative analysis.

Findings

Using illustrative examples from multiple data sources, this study discusses four tensions between students’ experiences of multimodal composing and teacher/researchers’ use of multimodal composition in a classroom setting: the primary audience of student projects, the media leveraged in student projects, expectations of learning in school and the role of a public viewing of student work.

Originality/value

This paper problematizes basic assumptions and benefits of multimodal composing and offers ideas on how to re-center multimodal composing on student voices.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant (P220A180015) from the US Department of Education (CFDA 84.229A) and from the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy at the University of Arizona. We would like to thank CERCLL for their support of this project as well as the journal editors and anonymous reviewers for their help in developing this article. We would also like to thank our high school collaborators, who taught us so much.

Citation

Hellmich, E., Castek, J., Smith, B.E., Floyd, R. and Wen, W. (2021), "Student perspectives on multimodal composing in the L2 classroom: tensions with audience, media, learning and sharing", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 210-226. https://doi.org/10.1108/ETPC-07-2020-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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