Smith, Blaine E. (University of Arizona), Mark B. Pacheco (University of Florida), and Mariia Khorosheva (University of Arizona)


With the growing linguistic diversity in today’s classrooms, recent scholarship has begun to explore how multilingual students can use the full range of their linguistic repertoires when composing. At the same time, conceptions of writing have expanded to include multiple modes (e.g., text, images, sound, and movement) and digital environments. Addressing these tandem needs, a growing field of scholarship examines multimodal composing in secondary multilingual classrooms. This presentation is a systematic literature review of research at the intersection of these fields, including a descriptive overview of the types of studies (e.g., contexts, methodology, multimodal products), main themes in findings across studies, ways multimodal composing is scaffolded in classrooms, and future areas for exploration.

The following questions guided our literature review: 1) What are the main themes across the empirical research on multimodal composing and bi/multilingual adolescents? 2) What are future areas of exploration for understanding and supporting bi/multilingual adolescents’ multimodal composing processes? To address these questions, studies were located using three search strategies. First, electronic searches were conducted in databases. Second, peer-reviewed literacy and technology journals were manually reviewed. Third, reference lists of collected studies on multimodal research were mined for other compatible studies. In total, 98 studies met the inclusion criteria and qualitatively coded to address the guiding questions.

We will present the main themes in findings across the 98 studies, including how multimodal composing in multilingual secondary classrooms is described to promote collaboration and identity expression. Numerous studies emphasize how multimodal projects offer students multiple points of entry for leveraging their cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as provide a platform for exploring relevant social and personal issues. A handful of studies explore the academic learning potential of infusing multimodal composing in the classroom and how bi/multilingual adolescents are able to compose across multiple modes and languages for different purposes. Building on these main themes, future directions for research and practice will be discussed.