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From Page to Program: A Study of Stakeholders in Multimodal First-Year Composition Curriculum and Program Design

Much of the writing we do today, whether for class, work, or personal engagement, relies on some form of media. Whether a computer to draft assignments, or smartphones to post on social media, technology has solidified its presence within our everyday writing experiences. Over the past two decades, as media has asserted its role in spaces outside of the classroom, its intersection with education, and composition classrooms specifically, has become more pronounced. These intersections have required that writing scholars, teachers, and writing program administrators (WPAs) remain attentive to the changing shape and modalities of composition. Responses to this include a wealth of research on the impact of changing composing technologies, as well as shared Outcomes Statements and position papers that offer guidelines for how administrators and teachers might incorporate multimodality into their writing curricula and classrooms. While these statements offer the language of objectives and outcomes, what they don’t support is the practical reality of making multimodality happen. What is a WPA to do? My dissertation is a qualitative study of first-year composition curriculum and writing program design at five public research universities that argues for targeted engagement with key stakeholders to develop inclusive, multimodal curricula. My findings suggest that there are three primary stakeholders that WPAs must engage to enact multimodal curricula: undergraduate students, first-year composition teachers, institutional administrators. I present a model for engaging with each level of stakeholder that is adaptable across institutional contexts based on my findings. This model illustrates how WPAs might embrace multimodal curricula to support writing instruction for the twenty-first century across various stakeholder levels. I analyze the factors that enable or inhibit multimodal curricular design, and argue for WPAs to consider how remediation assignments better position students for multimodal transfer; to assess if and how their training programs intentionally reflect their programmatic curricular goals; and lastly, to mobilize their institutional mission statements to access resources and support.
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