Multimodality: Inclusion, Assessment & Social Justice Education (symposium)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


We can learn from others, become transfigured by others, work in solidarity with others, without having to finally “know” others, and speak essential truths about them which they do not wish to articulate for themselves (Campano, Philip Nichols & Player, 2020, 145).
In this symposium, we explore multimodality as a core component of inclusive and social justice-oriented teaching and learning across school and higher education contexts. As such, we understand how multimodality is not just an argument for mode and medium, but also an argument for power, access, diversity, and (re)design (Janks, 2010). It moves to destabilise commonly held assumptions about how knowledge and meaning are accessed, represented, and measured (Kress, 2015). As such we each explore an aspect of multimodality and its impact on our own meaning-making practices: 1) Inclusion, 2) Assessment, and 3) Critical Literacies.

In many ways, these three entry points into thinking about and through multimodality represent the broad range of ways in which the theoretical approach might work in different ways and for different purposes. This is to say that each of our presentations are rooted in very particular social and cultural contexts, and it from within these contexts that we explore certain aspects of multimodality. From its connections to multiliteracies in secondary English teaching, to viewing primary teachers’ own pedagogical repertoires through a multimodal lens, and finally to mobilising digital tools for engaging secondary student teachers with place-based critical literacies. These studies are all situated in Scotland where the national policy and curriculum documents advocate for what’s called a ‘future proof’ definition of literacy, but which still slips between technicist and socio-cultural definitions. Such slippery language within the very national educational framework often means schools and teachers are left to figure many things out on their own. It also means that while recent curriculum changes demonstrate some moves toward increased teacher agency and a broadening of educational outcomes across Scottish schools, without enough clarity and material resources, it becomes easy to fall back into ‘the way things have always been done’. But, it’s certainly not all dire. Teachers are often creative and innovative in their pedagogies, and so much of the data presented today also asks that we understand how curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment work in particular contexts as they are wrought by particular people and communities. That is, the lens through which we look will reveal different possibilities.

As a question of inclusion, Jane Catlin draws on a theory of multimodality to explore possibilities for recognising and understanding the ways in which teachers use non-dominant modes, such as drawing, as part of the meaning-making practices and pedagogical resources in the primary classroom. Similarly, Emma Van Dinter considers how assessment through a multimodal lens opens up opportunities to access and understand the meaning-making practices of secondary English learners, develop conditions for young people to bridge school and everyday literacies, and reveal possibilities to re-imagine how young people might best represent their knowledge and understanding of literary texts or devices. Finally, Navan Govender investigates renewed questions about the role of multimodality within critical literacy practice – particularly in relation to engaging and mobilising decolonial imaginaries (Campano et al., 2020). Reading as a critical and multimodal practice of meaning-making therefore requires re-thinking the what, how, and why of reading itself.
Period1 Jul 2022
Event titleUKLA International Conference 2022: Reaching out through literacy: Enabling advantage for all
Event typeConference
LocationBirmingham, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Multimodality
  • Inclusive Education
  • assessment
  • Social Justice
  • Critical Literacy
  • literacy studies