What's in a theme?: challenges experienced  by teachers in designing and assessing multimodal representations of themes from self-chosen texts

Year: 2012

Author: Reed, Yvonne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



Writers on the centrality of multimodal pedagogy to learning, teaching and assessing English argue that the task of reconceptualising assessment of multimodal representations is both urgent and challenging.  The research investigated (i) how ten postgraduate students, all of whom are teachers, experienced an assignment for which they designed multimodal representations of themes from self-chosen texts and participated in the assessment of these; (ii) what they learned from working multimodally and from the assessment process.


The data on which a qualitative thematic analysis was based consisted of (i) ten multimodal representations and  presentations to the class, (ii) the peer and self-assessment sheets completed by each teacher-student and (iii) the post-presentation essays in which they reflected on their learning from the designing and assessment process.  


Initial anxiety about an unfamiliar task or scepticism about its value, was succeeded by delight in their own and each other's representations and recognition of what they had learned about their text, about working multimodally and about the complexities of assessing alternatives to conventional essays or book reviews.   Important questions were raised about the assignment instructions and most of all, about the identification and use of appropriate assessment criteria.


The quality of the teachers' representations and reflections on their learning suggest that (i) the assignment has value in a teacher professional development course and (ii) further investigation of how to assess  'equitably' is needed.