Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Rachel Heydon


The goal of this qualitative case study was to provide insights into the place of multimodal literacy learning opportunities in the classroom literacy curriculum in a junior level context that is under-represented in the research literature, to ascertain the possibilities and constraints for multimodal literacy learning opportunities therein, and to document the students’ literacy practices within these opportunities. To achieve these ends, the study explored the multimodal literacy learning opportunities that were afforded by a grade six classroom curriculum within Ontario, Canada. Specifically, the study asked: What, if any multimodal literacy learning opportunities does a grade six classroom curriculum afford? How do students engage in them? The study focused on four student participants and their teacher over the course of four months during language arts time with the case being the classroom literacy curriculum. Data collection methods included interviewing, collection of artifacts, participant observation, and video recording classroom literacy events. Methods also included the examination of curriculum documents and resources that the teacher used in her instructional planning and the documentation of the classroom context which included the collection of details about the class and classroom such as classroom layout, timetables, and student-teacher interactions. Data analysis began by identifying classroom curriculum literacy events which were then analyzed in relation to the study questions using a Modified Constant Comparison Method. This study found that multimodal literacy learning opportunities were most often enabled in the classroom curriculum when the students’ knowledge and multimodal interests took primacy; a narrowed emphasis on print literacy constrained multimodal literacy learning opportunities; this narrowing was largely the effect of a provincial, standardized literacy assessment, standardized outcomes-based report cards, workshops, school-wide rubrics directed towards improving students’ performance on the provincial assessment, and a lack of support for the teacher’s acquisition of multimodal pedagogical knowledge. The study confirms and extends through illustrations of Canadian classroom curriculum literature related particularly to literacy assessment wash-back and students’ literacy practices within classroom literacy curricula that are print-centric. This study makes suggestions for how multimodal pedagogies might be included in classroom curricula so as to enhance students’ multimodal literacy learning opportunities.