To learn more about the fears and current practices that some instructors have in regard to multimodal compositions and their assessment, we conducted two online surveys. For our research purposes we define mulitmodal compositions using Cynthia Selfes understanding of projects that combine two or modes (audio, image, alphabetic text) such as audio essays, video essays, PowerPoint presentations, blogs, webpages, wikis, brochures, advertisements, and non-digital scrapbook or collages. We first surveyed composition instructors currently teaching for Ball State University’s Writing Program. We also posted the survey on the Writing Program Administrators (WPA) Listserv to receive feedback from a broader field of composition instructors. In all, we received 57 responses (18 from Ball State University instructors and 39 from instructors at other institutions). Our hope was to discover current assessment practices being used by those instructors at Ball State who must use a required Writing Program rubric and those from other schools who might not.
In order to discover the instructors' current assessment practices and attitudes about their use of multimodal compositions in the classroom our survey asks questions designed to determine the types and amount of assignments they use, the percentage of multimodal projects assigned, their concerns about multimodal compositions, how they assess multimodal compositions, and if they feel trained to assess them. For instance, one survey question asks why are you uncomfortable assigning multimodal projects? We used this question as a way into understanding what role assessment plays in the comfort level of instructors teaching these projects. A second question asks How do you assess multimodal projects? We used this question as a means to understand the assessment practices instructors use when evaluatuing these non-traditional compositions. Mainly, we were interested in seeing if any of them used a traditional rubric similar to the one we are advocating. Another question asks what types of multimodal projects do you assign? We found this question was important to provide insight as to what instructors consider as multimodal projects and which ones they assign most. Our purpose in asking questions, like the ones above, was to first find out if other instructors were teaching multimodal projects, second if they were facing any of the challenges we were in the composition classroom regarding assessment, and finally how or if they attempted to face these assessment challenges on their own.