Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication


The body of this thesis seeks to explore the costs and benefits of instituting a multimodal composition pedagogy within first-year writing. Contested definitions of multimodality and multimedia provide a background for delving into the printed-word dominated discourse, where image, sound, and animation are all placed in a subordinate position relative to that of the written word. Within, many theories of multimodality and composition pedagogy are placed in contrast with one another in an attempt to discern connections in the body of already published theoretical material. The primary method of data collection for this document involved the investigation of secondary sources already available within the realm of rhetoric and composition scholarship. Primary journals consulted include Computers and Composition, College Composition and Communication, College English, and Kairos, along with numerous books covering the topic of multimodal curricula development. In all, the primary findings of this thesis find that there is an increasing need to consider the incorporation of multimodal elements within first-year writing courses. In order to promote the goal of knowledge transfer between students’ experiences in first-year writing and other courses, the materials taught must be relevant to the cultural communication norms of the current day. In particular, a new focus must center on the development of multiliteracies within first-year writing, in order to assist students gain the theoretical knowledge and practical skills that will best suit their future endeavors. As assessment and course development remain two of the largest obstacles in allowing for multimodal composition, special attention must be paid to these areas. Concrete guides, along with practical assessment rubrics are currently available, but these works largely remain in the minority alongside theoretical considerations of how multimodality might be incorporated within the classroom.