Multimodal Strategies for Special Needs Outliers in Distance Education

deadline for submissions: 
June 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer D Allard California State University San Marcos
contact email: 

2019 PAMLA Conference San Diego

Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics / Professional and Pedagogy

Special Session—Panel

Session Chair: Jennifer Allard (California State University San Marcos)


This panel invites papers that investigate the use of multimodal, cross-disciplinary curriculum for online instruction. More generally, the panel seeks presentations on supporting the needs of all students to successfully communicate. Papers that address the teaching of cognitive science concepts and interpretive communication (including “performance” pieces) are especially welcome.


This panel is situated in methodological research of multimodal, cross-disciplinary curriculum in online instruction that supports the needs of all students to successfully communicate through:

Cognitive science: Teaching cognitive science concepts in composition helps students visualize how they absorb, interpret, synthesize, and communicate information. Distance Education classrooms are the perfect environment to explore visually, aurally, and tactilely through multimodal, cross-disciplinary delivery.

Interpretive communication: “Performance” pieces, specifically music, art, and media sourced from academic fields in STEM and the humanities provide an alternative method of communication for students and are often easier to comprehend, manipulate, explore, and engage with in the pursuit of their academic goals.

This panel pursues the implications of recent research that builds upon earlier studies of special needs learning. According to a Centers for Disease Control report released in April 2018, the rates of cognitive disorders diagnoses such as ADD, ADHD, and autism (up 1.7 percent from 2014) continue to rise (Baio J, Wiggins L, Christensen DL, et al. 2018). Studies also indicate that a consistent challenge for students with these diagnoses is composition (Zajic M, McIntyre N, Swain-Lerro L, et al 2016). Past studies cite the need to support higher education students with cognitive disorders with a more inclusive online presence offering malleable learning tools that accommodate these students’ needs (Robertson and Ne’eman 2008).