|Pedagogical Value Conclusion|
In addition to becoming informed global citizens, perhaps the most valuable pedagogical benefit of the multimodal project was the act of creating the posters. For many students, who struggled to organize and focus their written arguments, creating the posters was a good revision exercise. Once students completed their posters, they took the key information displayed on their posters and followed the organization patterns to help them revise their papers. In other words, the posters were a visual outline for them to follow. Denecker (2010) has argued for multimodal compositions to help students revise and invent. And Dunn (2002) has advocated for students to employ multiple ways of learning. While she did not focus on multimodal compositions in her book, she claimed that visual, written, and spoken activities help students best organize and develop their writing. According to Dunn, sketching aids students in the writing process, as students can use their drawings to guide them when drafting and revising a text. Like sketches, the posters were a visual outline for students to follow when revising their argumentative papers.
Included is a student’s first and final draft of her argumentative paper. Below you will also find her poster. The first draft includes my comments and revision suggestions. As you can see, she struggled to focus her essay, and she seemed to have two topics embedded in her paper: the benefits of study abroad and students taking a pre-course before embarking on a trip overseas. My comments provided suggestions to help her focus the text. However, it was the act of creating the poster that effectively guided her through the revising process.
After reviewing the content and organization of the poster, she revised her paper. The beginning of her essay is still a bit weak, as she struggled to refute a counter-argument. However, once she settled into her argument, her writing solely focuses on pre-courses and follows the same organizational pattern as the poster. She first argues for the benefits of pre-courses and then argues how the courses will help internationalize campus. In addition, for her final draft, she deleted much of the background information she included in her first draft. In a final reflection, she noted that because the lengthy background information was not included on the poster, she realized it was unnecessary for her paper. Overall, her final draft was much more focused and better organized thanks to the poster.
In addition, the visual images on the posters helped students with their print-based texts. As previously noted, multimodal compositions help students transfer ideas from writing into multiple ways of communicating, offering them greater opportunities for meaning making (Jewitt, 2006). Once students had complete drafts of their papers and posters, they were able to go between the print and poster images, revising and refining their written and visual texts. Such flexibility offered them greater opportunity to revise and invent.
Finally, the images embedded on the posters offered students greater opportunity to engage an audience. Selfe (2004) has argued, “Global communications, for example –exchanged via increasingly complicated computer networks that stretch across traditional geographic and political borders and that include people from different cultures who speak different languages –increasingly involve texts that depend heavily, even primarily on visual networks” (p. 72). As the student references in the video, he enjoyed presenting and discussing his work with an audience consisting of former ESL instructors. Specifically, for the non-native speakers of English in the class, the visual images offered them additional tools to communicate with an audience. According to Shin and Cimasko (2008), non-linguistic codes such as visuals help non-native speakers better express themselves and make meaning. Thus, the visual images on the posters allowed, not only the international students, but all my students, to best communicate with an audience and present their arguments in multiple ways through written, spoken, and visual texts.