A Writing Instructor’s Reflection, by Alex Werndli

The Writing Intensive Curriculum Program’s final zoom lunch of the term on May 15 was an intellectually and pedagogically invigorating session on multimodal assignment integration. WIC faculty Janet Tate (Physics), Ehren Pflugfelder (Rhetoric and Writing), and Andrea Allan (Climatology and Geography) all shared their experiences and strategies for incorporating multimodality into coursework.

Multimodality is often approached as the deployment of diverse meaning-making modes (including textual, visual, aural, kinesthetic, and more) towards communicative ends. The integration of multiple modes has long been practiced in WIC courses, perhaps most famously in the form of an oral presentation meant to accompany a final written assignment or report. In many disciplines, a degree of multimodality is standard practice; take, for example, the use of maps, charts, figures, and graphs alongside text in a report (Coulter-Harris, 2016). In others, certain modes are vital to disciplinary identity, such as diagrams or models in architecture studios (Allan, 2013).

Research suggests that multimodal work not only builds diverse student skillsets, it also allows students to draw on literacies which are less often privileged in the classroom (Gonzalez, 2015). The integration of multimodality into writing instruction manifests in ways as diverse as the forms of meaning making themselves. If you’re interested in reading more about just a handful of these manifestations, the WIC program has prepared a short annotated bibliography.

Each of the May 15th presentations can be viewed here in video or .pptx format. Professor Tate shared her strategy of asking students to create visual storyboards of their research processes as a way of giving internal narrative structure to their scientific reports, and from her we learned about the utility of visual conceptualization throughout in the composing process. Professor Pflugfelder shared assignments from his innovative podcasting course, and we learned from him how students might experiment with this popular genre as a way of broadcasting to a wider audience. Finally, Dr. Allan shared her digital “storyboard” assignment meant to accompany a final report on climatology in a specific US geographic region, and from her we learned how students might employ creative tactics to present research information in a more accessible and engaging manner.

As both a student of WAC/WID scholarship and a writing teacher actively investigating ways of engaging with multimodality in my composition classroom, I came away from this panel with a number of reflections on multimodal instruction. For example, Dr. Allan’s storyboards demonstrate how asking students to present their research results multimodally as well as textually can both build communicative skills and prompt students to engage more deeply and creatively with their findings. I’ve already begun planning a final project along those lines for one of the courses I teach.

Previously, I’d only thought of multimodal assignments as separate, final products in this way, but Professor Tate’s use of images during report-writing opens new sites for implementation by suggesting that alternative forms of meaning-making could be useful additions to any longer composing process. I’d certainly like to incorporate similar strategies into longer-term assignments to help students improve the narrative coherence of their final products.

Finally, when experimenting with unfamiliar genres, Professor Pflugfelder’s presentation emphasized the importance of students’ reflection on their composing processes and rhetorical choices. This metacognitive prompting would serve as a helpful accompaniment to any multimodal assignment and seems likely to encourage transfer of developed skills to the divergent future contexts that students will face.

Across each of these presentations, it’s clear that multimodality is best implemented in the WIC classroom in locally situated ways. Both academic disciplines and professional fields employ common genres, many of which present sites for multimodal intervention and skill development. Each of the three shared strategies reflects the communicative values of its home discipline, providing yet more evidence of how composition instruction can be authentically integrated into WIC courses.


Fall 2013 

Intersections of Student Writing: A Conversation with Tim Jensen, Director of Writing, Getting Curious in the Research Classroom, Teaching with Zotero: Citation Management for Feedback and Peer Review, Collaborative Composition with Google Drive, 2013-14 Baccalaureate Core WIC Review, WIC in Action–Updates from the Fall WIC Seminar


Spring 2013

Peer Review in Renewable Materials Courses, Building Upon Teaching: An Interview with Sarah Henderson, Accessibility as Professional Responsibility, A Book Review of Teaching and Learning Creatively: Inspirations and Reflections, Writing and Research Assistants for International Students, Culture of Writing Award Winners, Fall 2013 WIC Faculty Seminar Call for Participants



Winter 2013

Helping Students Make Sense of Fair Use, Working with L2 Students, Spring 2013 Lunch Schedule, Call for Culture of Writing Awards




Fall 2012

Interview with Jon Dorbolo, Fall Seminar Recap, Taking Notes on Mobile Devices, Departmental Writing Guides, New Bacc Core Website





Spring 2012

Culture of Writing Award Winners, Challenging Writing Assignments, Departmental Writing Guide Overview, Know Your Library




Winter 2012

Interview with Mark Edwards, Reflective Writing Assignments, WIC Spring Lunch Schedule, New Culture of Writing Awards Protocol



Fall 2011

Interview with Janet Tate, Fall Seminar Recap, Deploying the Writer’s Personal Profile on Blackboard, Introducing the WIC Blackboard Resource Site





Spring 2011

New WIC Outcomes, Collaborative Writing and Learning, Responding to Students Electronically, WIC Culture of Writing Awards


Winter 2011 – Interview with Lisa Ede, Three Approaches to Peer Review

No Fall 2010 Newsletter


Spring 2009 – Interview with David Russell, Bring Writing to Art and Design

Fall 2008 – Responding to Student Writing


Spring 2008 – Women Studies, Trendspotting: Common Student Errors (Pt 2)

Winter 2008 – Information Literacy, Trendspotting: Common Student Errors (Pt 1)

Fall 2007 – The Writer’s Personal Profile, Building Visually Fluent Texts


Spring 2007 – Kathleen Blake Yancy Visits OSU

Winter 2007 – Using Images in Student Writing

Fall 2006 – Educating Academic Writers, Introducing “They Say, I Say”


Spring 2006 – Departments Assessing Writing

Winter 2006 – Announcing: WIC Culture of Writing

Fall 2005 – Writing and Thinking about Ethics


Spring 2005 – OSU Heritage Language Learners Program

Winter 2005 – Putting WIC on Stage

Fall 2004 – Technology Across the Curriculum


Spring 2004 – Developing Writing Outcomes for WIC Classes

Winter 2004 – The Sequenced Assignment

No Fall 2003 Newsletter


Spring 2003 – New Grammar Tools for WIC Classrooms, Biology Haikus

Winter 2003 – Critical Thinking: Multiple Models for Teaching and Learning

Fall 2002 – 2001-02 WIC Grant Updates


No Spring 2002 Newsletter

Winter 2001 – Thesis Writing in Community, Interview with Brad Cardinal

Fall 2000 – Discovering Common Ground in the WIC Classroom


Spring 2001 – A Report on the State of Writing at OSU

Winter 2001 – Thesis Writing in Community

Fall 2000 – Arguing for Complexity


Spring 2000 – Writing for Change: Raising Awareness of Difference, Power, and Discrimination

Winter 2000 – A Capacity for Connectedness

Fall 1999 – Pair-A-Dice Regained: Multi-Writing as Imaginative Reality


Spring 1999 – WIC Celebrates its Tenth Year

Winter 1999 – A Modest Proposal

Fall 1998 – Student Writing at OSU


Spring 1998 – One Writer’s Story

Winter 1998 – Teaching Students to Revise

Fall 1997 – Responding to Student Papers


Spring 1997 – Jumping into Writing-to-Learn

Winter 1997 – High Tech, Low Tech, Fast Tech, Slow Tech

Fall 1996 – Successful Peer Review


Spring 1996 – Writing Philosophy Papers: A Student Guide

Winter 1996 – Writing in Marketing

Fall 1995 – WIC On-Line


Spring 1995 – Writing-to-Lead

Winter 1995 – Writing-to-Learn for the Sciences

Fall 1994 – Dispelling Grammar Myths in WIC


Spring 1994 – Curriculum Revision

Winter 1994 – WIC and the Baccalaureate Core

Fall 1993 – WIC Roots


Spring 1992 – An Interview with Stephen Chovanec

Winter 1992 #2 – An Interview with Sally Davenport

Winter 1992 #1 – An Interview with Michael Mix

Fall 1991 – Making Formal Writing Assignments


Spring 1991 – The Vaccination Theory of Writing

Winter 1991 #2 – Writing = Problem Solving?

Winter 1991 #1 – Integrating Informal Writing

Fall 1990 #2 – WIC Courses: Common Questions

Fall 1990 #1 – Active Learning?