The value of multimodal assessment is clearly shown in the design of the DE programme and is underpinned by a desire to reflect the changes taking place within academic literacy, alongside a belief that students should be encouraged to explore the representational possibilities of the digital form. The rationale for using multimodal assessment, I have argued, recognises that multimodality is an evolutionary process where existing and emerging forms co-exist and hybridise to create a more diverse representational landscape, rather than a revolution in literacy where old ways are necessarily deposed by the new.
The willingness of students to embrace multimodality within assessment however is influenced by a range of factors including concerns surrounding misinterpretation, validation offered through course design and communication, and misunderstandings of multimodality as a pursuit for the technologically and creatively gifted. The presence or absence of these factors can discourage a digital approach whilst re-enforcing the perceived stability and security of the conventional essayistic form. Within this I have argued that, to date, the literature has largely failed to investigate multimodal assessment in practice, particularly in relation to the attitudes and experiences of students and tutors.
I have also shown that multimodality provokes challenging questions for those responsible with marking digital artefacts. In the absence of established scholarly apparatus tuned to measure the quality of work composed in non-conventional form, tutors employ a variety of different marketing strategies. Multimodality prompts tutors to think newly about assessment, placing a greater emphasis on interpretation and encouraging a holistic approach that reflects on the communicational entirety of the student’s work in relation to the question she set out to address. I have argued that this re-casts the marker as a curator, thus destabilising traditional classroom power relations, albeit with the tutor retaining responsibility for grading the submitted work.
By focusing on multimodal assessment in practice I have been able to contribute, in a small way, to existing discussion within the field. In particular, by eliciting data through the telling of assessment stories, insights have been gained into the questions that multimodality provokes and the strategies that tutors employ in response to these challenges. Having explored how tutors experience multimodal assessment, there would be value in further research in investigating student attitudes to some of these same themes, particularly in relation to the factors that encourage them to resist the gravitational pull of the conventional essay and to take their first small steps into multimodal representational space.