Research Reveals Rapid Multimodal Writing Gains for School Students

Boy jumping in excitementNew findings by Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education (ILSTE) researchers on the SELFIE project – Strengthening Effect Language of Feelings in Education – have just been published. The findings show how the use of a novel teaching model improved students’ writing and creation of popular digital texts. Professor Kathy Mills, who leads the project, said, “The findings have implications for empowering socially disadvantaged and English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D)) students in a key life-stage – primary schooling.”


Conducted over three years, the project showed significant learning gains for middle primary students in as few as 12 hours of instructional time. Not only were the students able to apply more sophisticated writing and digital design techniques in their work, but they gained an improved knowledge of how effective language works. Also, they could explain the main categories of the attitudinal language system, and how to use multimodal techniques to show emotions in characterisation.

The Australian Research Council Linkage Project united a consortium of schools, visual media experts, and policy makers to test new pedagogical approaches to develop student ability to write more effectively (see the SELFIE project for more information). The findings are relevant to parents, teachers, teacher educators, and educational curriculum and policy makers because the pedagogical model produced from the research can be enacted in classrooms for real writing results in a digital world. The findings are also particularly important in Australia, where the teaching of students’ multimodal writing is a key focus of the Australian Curriculum English.

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