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Abstract

Given the changing nature of literacy, there is an urgent need to develop alternative ways of assessment in support of students' new literacy practices in the digital age. While emergent models of multimodal assessment are being developed in theoretical contexts, the study reported in this paper illustrates how multimodal theories can be realized in classroom practice. Seeking to address the needs of both literacy instruction and assessment, this study proposed a design rubric from the multiliteracies perspective to assess students' design of multimodal texts as a means to support assessable new literacy practices. Specifically, this research aimed to investigate how the design rubric as a formative assessment tool affects English learners' multimodal text production (in this case, presentation slides). The empirical results of this study reveal that the theory-driven design rubric was useful for enhancing the students' understanding and awareness of the multimodal nature of presentation slides and led to improvement in their multimodal text production. The findings have important implications for scaffolding students' multimodal literacy by using formative assessment as one of the instructional approaches in multiliteracies pedagogy.

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic
  • The advent of digital technology brings about a re-conceptualization of literacy.
  • Today's students must be literate in both traditional printed texts and multimodal texts that are commonly associated with digital technology and multimedia.
  • New literacy practices require teachers to develop new assessment practices.
What this paper adds
  • This paper offers valuable insights into literacy instruction and assessment.
  • This paper presents a course design using action research that responds to the urgent need to develop alternative ways of assessment in support of students' new literacy practices in the digital age.
  • This paper proposes a theory-driven design rubric from the multiliteracies perspective to assess learners' multimodal text production.
  • Implications for practice and/or policy
  • Multimodal assessment allows teachers to help students build a metalanguage for understanding and describing multimodal texts.
  • Literacy and language educators may consider adapting the proposed design rubric as a formative assessment tool to provide students with constructive feedback pertaining to the multimodality of texts.
  • The proposed design rubric can also be used for peer review and self-assessment.