Early adolescent engagement with multimodal literacies

Year: 2017

Author: Ronksley-Pavia, Michelle, Barton, Georgina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Literacy research has acknowledged the importance of practices inherent in students' everyday social and cultural lives (Gee, 2003; Moje et al., 2004; Street, 2013). Particular focus on out-of-school literacies across the past two decades or so shows a predominance of student engagement with technological literacies that are not necessarily drawn upon in schools. In fact, some research states that students' knowledge and skills in this area surpasses that of teachers (Wang et al., 2014). Making real-world connections is noted to be significantly important for engagement and wellbeing for adolescent students (Alvermann, 2010; Alvermann & Moore, 2011). So too, is clear purpose and links to culture, life and identity more generally (Belle, 2016).
Our project aimed to explore what out-of-school literacies early adolescents engaged in, as this age group is relatively under-researched. Five 8-13 year olds were invited to document their use of digital/multimodal text construction or comprehension over one school week. Equipped with GoPro cameras the students filmed themselves and were invited to comment on/journal about their practice. They were also interviewed about the role of emotion and identity formation involved in these practices. Findings show that early adolescents display sophisticated meta-language about the types of multimodal literacies they engage with outside of school. They also are well aware of the lack of connection between these literacies and what is expected at school in relation to multimodal text construction and comprehension. Further, students' emotional association with their out-or-school activities is critically high and we therefore suggest that such practices are acknowledged and embedded within in-school curriculum and assessment.