Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


James H. Rolling


Art Education, Literacy Education, Media Arts Education, Multimodal Dissertation, Multimodal Literacy, Teacher Education

Subject Categories



As a visual arts educator, I understand the unique opportunities students have to learn by making, inventing, and creating, to communicate their ideas. The work of the New London Group (2000), the more recent National Core Arts Standards and the National Core Media Arts Standards (2014) and the New York Arts & Media Arts Standards (2017) have significantly influenced this study by reinforcing both the necessity and potential to both art and media arts teaching practices in developing greater applications for multimodal literacy theory, defined by the National Council of the Teachers of English as “Integration of multiple modes of communication and expression that can enhance or transform the meaning of the work beyond illustration or decoration” (2005). The purpose of this study is to better understand if and how art and media arts educators include multimodality in planning and executing visual art experiences for K-12 students by examining their association with and their definitions of multimodality. By providing a rich description, I hope to create a shared meaning in order to understand the context that reflects a slice of art teacher culture, (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). Through this multisite case study, nine visual art educators’ planning and practice around multimodal literacies was explored through participant observation for one week at each site and formal interviews conducted after the week ended. Multiple modes of data was collected from each site including field notes, teacher artifacts, still photography, audio recording and video recording. Analysis of this data showed that although most participants could not define multimodal literacies, most were planning and practicing their teaching with multimodal literacies in varying degrees, such as incorporating more web content, popular culture video clips and movement exercises when presenting content to students. Media arts teachers showed the most evidence of using multimodal literacies in teacher planning and practice. Analysis of the data presented four themes: participants infused multimodal literacies in planning their visual and media arts curriculum even though the term was unfamiliar; as they became familiar with the term multimodal literacies, participants’ perception was that they used many of these strategies to support students in their teaching practice; visual and linguistic modes were privileged in delivering art and media content in curriculum planning and teaching practice and participants utilized the aural, gestural and spatial modes far less than the visual and linguistic modes in planning and practice. The findings suggest that additional coursework around ideas of multimodal literacies, consistent with visual arts and media arts standards, should be added to visual and media arts teacher preparation programs for pre-service teachers and that districts should add additional professional development around ideas of multimodal literacies to practicing teachers. This training would prepare teachers to address a variety of abilities, learning styles and the delivery of instruction to best provide quality visual and media arts education to all students.


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