Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Sunstein, Bonnie

First Committee Member

Severino, Carol

Second Committee Member

Trachsel, Mary

Third Committee Member

Schmidt, Renita

Fourth Committee Member

Coggins-Mosher, Cinda


Since the personal computing revolution began in the 1980s, digital technologies have become more powerful, affordable, and portable. Those tools have made possible the information age and new ways of communicating. When we connect, we encounter prompts to post, comment, edit, tweet, snap, capture, collaborate, and share. Within an app loaded on a device close at hand are the tools necessary to create and bring together images, videos, sounds, animations, and text. When we mix forms of communication in this way, we create multimodal compositions.

Teachers, students, politicians, corporations, universities, journalists, employers, artists, authors, role models, and friends now communicate with multimodal compositions. The growing significance of multimodal compositions suggests the importance of learning how to consume and create these new media. Many educators consider such skills essential to literacy in the information age. In the context of higher education, rhetoric and composition courses increasingly take on the responsibility of teaching future leaders to make effective and responsible use of multimodal compositions in their communication.

This study considers how college-level composition and rhetoric teachers and their students experience a time of transition between traditional speaking and writing assignments and multimodal composition projects that ask students to integrate different ways of communicating. I use qualitative methods to examine three levels of the composition curriculum: a single assignment, a single course, and a single department. The results point to possible advantages, obstacles, and complications of using multimodality as an approach to college-level literacy teaching and learning.


Composition, Computers and Writing, Literacy, Multimodal, New Media, Rhetoric


ix, 265 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 251-265).


Copyright © 2018 Matthew James Gilchrist