Multimodal composition pedagogy in Higher Education: a paradigm shift

  • Louise Olivier North-West University


The use of digital technologies for pedagogical purposes worldwide has augmented the need for radical and urgent changes in academic literacy education at tertiary institutions. In this article, multimodal composition alternatives to traditional written academic assessments are proposed as a platform for transformation in academic literacy modules. The literature framework highlights the hindrances and affordances of multimodal composition pedagogy. A qualitative research approach was followed in the empirical research. An online questionnaire was used in this interpretivist research design. The opinions of academic literacy lecturers at a South African university were sought to gauge how they felt about incorporating alternative multimodal assessments instead of traditional methods such as text-based compositions only. The inclusion of student voice and agency regarding multimodal academic literacy pedagogy was also investigated. The findings revealed that many lecturers did incorporate formative multimodal teaching and learning strategies to scaffold academic writing. However, with regards to summative assessment of academic literacy skills, most lecturers still preferred the traditional essay. Most of the lecturers were also not in favour of student contribution to multimodal content and assessment. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that multimodal composition transformation is implemented to support students’ academic literacy needs, not their own, in an ever-changing digital landscape in higher education.

Author Biography

Louise Olivier, North-West University
Dr Louise Olivier is a senior lecturer English for Education, North-West University in Mahikeng. Her research interests include multimodal teaching and learning and teacher training.