An Excess of Expression: Multimodal Pedagogy in the Humanities

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

When students are given the opportunity to use more than one mode in learning, they are taking a multimodal approach to thinking critically. Multimodality, first addressed by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996), is meaning that is made through multiple representations and communications systems. This session allows the presenters to answer the question: “What happens when students use more than one mode to demonstrate understanding of concepts, texts, and/or literature? While multimodal is a more recently coined term, organizations like The National Council of Teachers of English have traditionally proposed such learning as demonstrated in Kist’s 2011 English Journal article “From Queen Mab to Big Boy: A Century of “New” Literacies.”

When students take a multimodal approach, they are using more than the mode of language, which requires them to make choices about how to express their thinking because they are using modes that they are most familiar with and comfortable with. In fact, when students compose multimodal responses, they are constructing knowledge. Research by Coiro, et al. (2015), Leu et al. (2015), Jerasa & Boffone (2021), and Stufft & von Gillern (2021) demonstrates that young people are absorbing and creating digital content outside of the classroom. Whether students are making YouTube videos, podcasts, book Toks, or original artwork, the students are connecting between school and their worlds.

The purpose of this session is to allow humanities instructors to demonstrate how they effectively and appropriately utilize multimodal composition in student learning. Participants are invited to share both research and/or practice as well as types of multimodal assignments they have previously designed.


300-word abstracts should be submitted to the NeMLA Portal:

For inquiries, please contact (chair)