chapter  9
23 Pages

Strings

The written word can no longer be the only, or even primary, vehicle through which students learn to compose. The graphical user interfaces (GUIs) of Macintoshes and Windows machines, as well as the presentation of material on web-browsers pushes a graphics heavy and intensely visual mode of argumentation. The development and publication of composition textbooks such as Lester Faigley, Diana George, Anna Palchik, and Cynthia Selfe’s Picturing Texts (2004) and Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz’s Everything’s an Argument (2003) confirm this shift, and demonstrate its increasing impact on the teaching of college-level composition courses. These textbooks acknowledge that students are already thinking in graphically-intensive ways, and rather than decrying the increasing use of visuals in academic writing (e.g., Halio, 1990), these textbooks incorporate the visual into post-process models of composing. These classroom materials acknowledge that the cognitive processes and tools used to compose (Kress, 2000, 2001, 2003) and to read (Gee, 2003) are becoming increasingly graphics oriented. I have argued throughout this book that not only should English and composition instruction reflect these changes but techniques for assessing student communication skills and proficiencies also need to incorporate these shifting forms. Without this shift in assessment, multimodal and multimedia composing activities and teaching strategies will be perceived as add-ons by students and parents. If it’s not on the test, it’s not important.