Digital Multimodal Composing across Disciplines at an Urban Public Multicultural School
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The purpose of this dissertation study is to examine the ways underprivileged fifth-grade students enacted digital multimodal composing practices and enhanced their understanding of digital multimodal composing in activity systems of ELA and science classes in a public school. This study was conducted within one fifth-grade classroom at McGrove Public School that educated ethnically and culturally diverse P-8 students in an urban area in the Northeastern United States. Data were collected for 9 weeks during the 2016-2017 academic year. Data sources included field notes, interview transcripts, and student artifacts. Drawing on a multimodal social semiotic perspective (Kress, 2010, 2015) of meaning making and an activity theory perspective (Engestrӧm, 1999, 2001, 2015) of human activity systems, a complementary analytical model of activity systems attuned to digital and multimodal tools was used to analyze the data. Findings revealed that students (1) carried out tool-mediated actions oriented toward digital multimodal compositions to achieve their own and shared social purposes in the activity systems; (2) enacted digital multimodal composing practices in mediational relationships to digital and multimodal tools and in social relationships to the community; and (3) grew into digitally and multimodally accomplished composers who had ICT access and opportunities to participate in the digital culture of the community and cultivate social ties in digital communication. This study has implications for educational research which invests in digital multimodal composing to bridge the digital divide (Watkins, 2018) from a social practice view of digital multimodal literacies in the field of digital and multimodal literacies studies.