Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Marilyn McKinney

Second Committee Member

Chyllis Scott

Third Committee Member

Steve Bickmore

Fourth Committee Member

Troy Hicks

Fifth Committee Member

Ed Nagelhout

Number of Pages



English language arts must respond to shifts in literacy practices that reflect changes in ‘college and career ready’ that are more than technologically mediated, but also emphasize creative and social skills. The case study in this dissertation is a small part of a larger, ongoing formative experiment in digital multimodal composition (DMC). A formative experiment is a methodological approach that favors a collaborative, iterative research process that is centered on an instructional goal in authentic classroom settings (Reinking & Bradley, 2008). The intention of the larger research study was to support students’ learning through DMC. This dissertation explored one of the research questions from the larger study: In what ways do students experience the process of digital multimodal composition?

The primary participants in this case study were Mrs. Kelly, an English teacher with 10 years experience in education and Aubrey, a 10th grade student. Elements of visual rhetoric and visual culture were employed as a lens to frame an exploration of Aubrey’s DMC, a digital comic and self-portrait, Offline.

When technology and multimodal composing processes are integrated into curriculum centered on rhetoric and composition, social, academic, and visual languages coalesce. There was no artificial separation between in- and out-of-school literacies in the intervention. Aubrey brought multiple resources to digital composing from diverse discourse communities. Aubrey made intentional choices, but was not always conscious of how she was using rhetorical tools and languages, including social media and gaming conventions. Findings suggest that assessment can be part of an iterative composing process in DMC that supports awareness of rhetorical purposes. The study reflects the teacher’s assertion that “our students are already writers” and has implications for developing DMC curriculum that values student agency.


assessment; composition; digital writing; multimodality; social media; visual rhetoric


Education | Liberal Studies | Rhetoric

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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