The motivation, design, technology, and impact of multimodal social advocacy projects

Thanks in huge part to support by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), Jialei Jiang and I were able to complete a 2-year project in examining how teachers of writing design, deploy, and evaluate community-based service-learning activities. Specifically, we were interested in how writing instructors and students felt about this kind of socially driven projects that serve an advocacy purpose, as well as how community partners felt about the collaboration with courses and institutions. Our funded award application can be accessed here. (I hope future proposal writers find it helpful.)

This overarching direction was informed by existing efforts in service-learning designs and assessment. Jialei and I were inspired by community-based and socially engaged efforts that writing studies scholar-teachers have taken upon themselves. As scholars and teachers of technology-infused writing courses, we are particularly interested in learning how multimodality factors into the equation of service-learning course design and the experience of those who are involved. This project is a continuation of the decades-old exigence that writing is socially embedded and contextualized, a notion reinforced by Linda Adler-Kassner in her 2017 CCCC Chair’s Address.

I am elated to share today one of the publications we have written for a technical and professional communication audience, published by the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication––”Examining Multimodal Community-Engaged Projects for Technical and Professional Communication: Motivation, Design, Technology, and Impact.”

Abstract: This study examines the role of multimodality in facilitating service-learning goals. We report findings from qualitative interviews with 20 college instructors who have designed and facilitated multimodal community-engaged learning projects, identifying their motivations, goals, and the impact of these projects through reflections. Based on our qualitative analysis of these instructor responses, we discuss the technological and pedagogical implications of multimodal social advocacy projects in technical and professional writing courses.

Full text access:


We look forward to any feedback you may have about this approach to understanding social advocacy efforts via service-learning.

Thanks for reading!

Banner photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

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