Mediational modalities: Adolescents collaboratively interpreting literature through digital multimodal composing

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25 Scopus citations


While literary interpretation and other traditional written genres have continued to be foundational to secondary English language arts curricula, there has concurrently been a call for an expanded view of literacy that requires students to be skillful consumers and producers of digital multimodal compositions. Bridging these often-conflicting priorities in the ELA classroom, some scholars have begun to examine how adolescents can interpret literature through digital multimodal composing. This study builds upon this developing field by exploring how 27 culturally and linguistically diverse 10th-grade students collaboratively interpreted literature by creating two digital projects—a hypertext literary analysis and a video literary analysis. In particular, sociocultural and social semiotics theoretical frameworks were integrated to understand how working with visuals, sound, and text in digital spaces mediated students’ interpretations of literature during their composing processes. Data sources included screen capture and video observations, design interviews, written reflections, and multimodal products. Through qualitative and multimodal data analysis, three main themes emerged for how multiple modes mediated students’ literary interpretive processes: (1) conceptualizing literary themes, (2) constructing multilevel connections to literature, and (3) elucidating literary meaning. These findings contribute new insights into how multiple modes can serve as valuable tools for thinking during students’ composing processes, including helping students to collaboratively discuss and articulate their understanding in complex and innovative ways. This study concludes with implications for how secondary ELA teachers can effectively integrate digital multimodal projects in the multilingual classroom to support literary interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-222
Number of pages26
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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