In The Shape of Text to Come, assessment of students’ visual and multimodal literacy skills should follow similar principles to that of all types of literacy learning, being integrated, student focused and related to the classroom curriculum. Since multimodal theory recognises the significant influence of technology and associated multiliteracies practices, assessment should also reflect integrated learning experiences, co-operative tasks and on-going development of portfolios and work samples which can cross print, performance and screen based literacy learning.
Assessment techniques and tasks should:
- be part of authentic learning experiences
- utilise quality texts, such as picture books, information books, screen based texts as well as texts that students create
- involve ongoing, formative and well as summative assessment
- involve students using a metalanguage as part of the assessment
- provide focused activities where student talk and understanding is focused on specific visual and textual aspects (time to look think deeply and talk about visual texts is very important)
- provide a variety of ways for students to show their skills and conceptual knowledge.
- include student made visual responses (drawing, painting, multimedia) to the texts used in the classroom (based on Callow, 2008)
In most classrooms, assessment is part of a teaching/learning cycle, where teachers plan in light of syllabus outcomes, observe and evaluate as they teach, assessing student learning formatively and modifying lessons as appropriate. Engaging learning activities provide assessment opportunities, where more teacher-guided tasks give way to student control, as they practice new skills and develop ideas.
All literacy learning should occur as part of a wider context, whether an author study, modeled reading lessons, factual curriculum-area reading or another planned learning experience, such as a film making competition, children’s writers' festival or school performance events. Working with multimodal texts creates new challenges for learning and assessment. Bearne (2009) details the importance and challenges of assessing student created multimodal texts, both screen and print, and some ways to go about this in the classroom. Having a metalanguage to describe visual elements is a key feature.
The following tables are based on the Shape of Text to Come and the Show Me framework (Callow, 2008) and provide examples of relevant metalanguage and assessment questions in relation to informative, imaginative and persuasive text. The assessment ideas below assume that any text used will be part of a meaningful learning context, so that the student is assisted to see assessment as related and meaningful to class activities. The associated strands, sub strands and threads link assessment to the Australian curriculum.