Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Gertrude Tinker Sachs

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce Many

Third Advisor

Dr. Peggy Albers

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Murphy


English learners’ literacy practices have become multimodal in today’s media and technology saturated world. Studies have investigated the application of multimodal composing in English language learning (ELL) classrooms and found that multimodal composing fostered students’ English achievement and understanding of course content more effectively than the lecture-type instruction (e.g. Yang & Wu, 2012). However, the examination of ELLs’ multimodal writing practices and their identity representation through out-of-class spaces have not been fully explored. This qualitative case study investigated international multilingual students’ choices of multimodal resources and how they used their preferred resources to design multimodal compositions to write about their previous and current English learning experiences, and how their social and literate identities are revealed from their multimodal compositions. There were three overarching research questions: first, how do ELLs use multimodal resources to write about their experiences of learning English in and out of the U.S. in a multimodal composing workshop? Second, how are their identities portrayed in their multimodal compositions and self-descriptions? Third, what are their perceptions of using multimodal resources to express themselves?

Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, workshop observation notes, video-recorded workshop sessions, participants’ multimodal compositions and researcher’s log. Social semiotic multimodal discourse analysis (MDA) (Jewitt, 2009, 2011), and grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) were the primary data analysis methods. The study was situated in the frameworks of multimodality (e.g. Jewitt, 2008; Kress, 1997) and sociocultural and literate identities theory (e.g. Holland et al., 1998; Vasudevan et al., 2010). Participants were a group of ELLs recruited from an Intensive English Program (IEP) in a university located in the southeastern region of the US. A series of 10 workshop sessions were scheduled to investigate ELLs’ multimodal composing practices and identity manifestation. Participants were found to use a combination of words and images to compose multimodal texts to write about their personal journey of English learning regardless of their age, gender, and nationality. Revolutionary perceptions about multimodal composing both in and out-of-classroom spaces were advocated by participants to satisfy their various writing purposes and communication needs.