Date of Award

1-12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Patrick Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nancy Hayward, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Resa Crane Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Abstract

In recent years, composition teachers and scholars have noted that multimodal technologies have changed the landscape of the first-year college writing classroom, causing many to consider the relevance of integrating these tools into the writing curriculum. While some suggest that it is important to teach students to write with a variety of technologies, others argue that a writing instructor’s primary objective is limited to teaching students to use the language effectively, emphasizing grammar, spelling, punctuation, and organization. As a graduate student and college writing instructor, I have been asked to align myself within this debate several times. After careful consideration, it seemed that this discussion lacked a general understanding of how these technologies were currently being used to support classroom instruction, without which it is difficult to establish whether or not these tools improve writing instruction. To provide insight into the current pedagogical practices of college writing instructors, this dissertation utilized a constructivist paradigm to investigate three first-year college writing classrooms, examining how multimodal texts and technologies changed the landscape of traditional, computer-mediated, and online writing classrooms at three public universities in Pennsylvania. By triangulating data through naturalistic observations, artifact analysis, and culminating interviews, this dissertation provided insight into how multimodal texts and technologies were recently used to support classroom instruction, providing a foundation on which scholars can begin to more effectively assess the relevance of multimodal texts and technologies in the first-year college writing curriculum.

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