English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 10-24-2019


This study explores how first-year students in a multimodal composition class use digital technology outside of class to complete their projects. The tendency in Composition studies to characterize students as “self-teaching” users of technology may obscure complex out-of-class experiences, so this study analyzes data from project reflections of 19 first-year students completing digital multimodal compositions to gain insight into their practices. Qualitative analysis reveals that the technical problems students encountered tended to be frequent and repetitive, and some problems were exacerbated by conflicts between the assignment requirements and the capacity of the technology required. Students tended to use trial-and-error methods in response to problems, and they frequently switched to another program rather than solve the problem at hand. Going forward, instructors should dialogue with students about the advantages and drawbacks of technology, encourage a variety of technology and composition types, and assess projects using technology criteria and with the help of technology-focused student reflections.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Tiffany Bourelle

Second Committee Member

Beth Davila

Third Committee Member

Andrew Bourelle

Fourth Committee Member

Teresa Y. Neely




multimodal composition, digital technology, self-teaching, first-year composition

Document Type