Multisemiotic resources in student assessment : a case study of one module at Stellenbosch University

Du Toit, Tamzin (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates multimodal assessment in the South African higher education context. The communication landscape of students is becoming increasingly multimodal, resulting in a shift away from higher education institutions’ preferred mode (that is, the written mode). This is partly as a result of the digital era in which we live, as the verbal, visual and audio modes co-exist to make meaning, thereby creating new forms of text (Iedema 2003: 33). Although there is a common acceptance that the communication landscape has changed, higher education institutions still seem to consider the written text and written communication as the most dominant form of meaning-making (Lea 2004: 743). Thus, there is a disparity between the types of literacies with which students arrive at university, and the types of literacies that they are expected to use in university. I argue that this disparity is problematic for education, and maintain that pedagogies be transformed in order to resolve this issue. In this way, students will be able to “benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life” (Cazden et al. 1996: 60). Data for this research includes assignments that were produced by second-year students of Applied English Language Studies, a subject offered by the Department of General Linguistics at Stellenbosch University. These assignments include a multimodal component as well as a formal, written component. Analysis of their assignments revealed that students show great dexterity in their creations of multimodal texts. Apart from their design skills, it was revealed that students have knowledge of a wide variety of social discourses, which is currently mostly ignored in the education context. Thus, I propose that this knowledge, along with the digital and visual design skills with which students arrive at university, be valorised and utilised as an entry point for the teaching of linguistic literacy. This proposal is partly supported by schema theory, a cognitive theory of learning, which entails that existing knowledge is used as a platform on which to build new knowledge.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek multimodale assessering in die Suid-Afrikaanse hoër onderwys konteks. Die kommunikasie landskap van studente word al hoe meer multimodaal wat ʼn skuif weg van die voorgekeurde modaliteit (die geskrewe) in hoër onderwys teweegbring. Dit is gedeeltelik a.g.v. die digitale era waarin ons leef waarin die verbale, visuele en klank modaliteite saam gebruik word om betekenis te skep; dus word nuwe vorme van teks geskep (Iedema 2003: 33). Alhoewel daar algemeen aanvaar word dat die kommunikasie landskap verander het, beskou hoër onderwys instansies nog steeds die geskrewe teks en geskrewe kommunikasie as die dominante vorm van betekenisskepping (Lea 2004: 743). Daar is dus ʼn gaping tussen die tipes geletterheid waarmee studente by die universiteit opdaag en watter daar van hulle verwag word om te gebruik in die universiteit. Ek voer aan dat hierdie gaping problematies is vir opvoedkunde en stel voor dat pedagogie verander moet word om dit aan te spreek. Op hierdie manier kan studente voordeel trek op maniere wat hul toelaat om ten volle deel te neem aan publieke, gemeenskaplike en ekonomiese lewe (Cazden et al. 1996: 60). Data vir hierdie navorsing sluit opdragte in wat deur tweede jaar Applied English Language Studies (ʼn vak wat deur die Departement Algemene Taalwetenskap by Stellenbosch Universiteit aangebied word) studente uitgevoer is. Die opdragte sluit ʼn multimodale element sowel as ʼn formele geskrewe element in. Analise van die opdragte wys dat studente vaardigheide het in die produksie van multimodale tekste. Behalwe die produksie vaardighede wys die analise ook dat hierdie studente kennis het van ʼn wye reeks sosiale diskoerse wat op die oomblik meestal geïgnoreer word in die opvoedkundige konteks. Ek voer dus aan dat hierdie kennis sowel as die digitale- en visuele produksie vaardigheide waarmee studente by die universiteit opdaag, gevalideer en gebruik word as ingangspoort vir die aanleer van talige geletterheid. Deels word die voorstel deur skema teorie ondersteun, ʼn teorie wat in kognitiewe benaderinge tot leer ontwikkel het en wat voorstel dat bestaande kennis gebruik kan word as ʼn platform om nuwe kennis te bou.

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