Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Heydon, Rachel


Limited evidence supports how multimodal pedagogy considers how modes, as constructed by teachers and children, vary across disciplines. This literature gap is potentially problematic for connections arising between facilitation of modes by educators to semiotic demands placed on children. Literature identifies multimodal pedagogy as a way to expand on traditional notions of literacy to assist children in representing meaning through modal constructions. Research focusing on spaces across curriculum available for explicit teaching of semiotics through multimodal pedagogy, and consequences when these spaces are and are not capitalized upon, is needed; it is hoped the study makes its contributions here. The study’s goal was to create new knowledge about types of semiotic demands placed on children in classroom curricula (Doyle, 1992) and recommendations for educators to strengthen pedagogies supporting children’s meaning making to promote inclusive classrooms.

This descriptive multiple case study (Baxter & Jack, 2008; Yin, 2009, 2012) included two separate cases of a grade 1 and 5 teacher participant and their students. Methods of a modal checklist, photographs, ethnographic methods, audio-recordings, and interviews examined semiotic demands and multimodal instruction within classroom curricula. Data were analysed by multimodal analysis (Jewitt, 2009). A curriculum document analysis (Bowen, 2009) was also conducted. The study found educators instrumental in constructing classroom curricula. They exercised their agency within an ecological context (e.g., Biesta, Priestley, & Robinson, 2015) to interpret and enact institutional and programmatic (Doyle, 1992) curricula. The study identified classroom curricula as fluid. Educators selected and used a variety of modes and resources to enact classroom curricula. Pedagogical supports for children to meet semiotic demands of the curricula were not commensurate. Supports were either not sufficiently explicit or focused on a specific mode.

The study recommendations advocate all levels of curricula to explicitly support multimodal literacy and commensurate multimodal pedagogy. They suggest educators identify semiotic demands and ensure pedagogies and assessment practices provided to children match demands. The study recommends curricula contextualize modal affordances and constraints across disciplines, provide children with metalanguage to acquire and express situated knowledge of multimodality, and illustrations of how to construct and convey meaning leveraging multimodal resources.