Enacting affordances: an investigation of digitally mediated multimodal assessment in higher education

LAINGEN, Geir Petter (2020). Enacting affordances: an investigation of digitally mediated multimodal assessment in higher education. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00331


This thesis examines the incorporation of a digitally mediated audio-visual assignment into theoretical-contextual modules at a UK post-1992 University. A sample of seven student-produced artefacts has been analysed, highlighting the semiotic work undertaken, the expressive resources used, and the types of knowledge conveyed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixteen participants, who provided accounts of their experiences and discussed the perceived value of the assignment. These two sets of empirical material were analysed using grounded theory methods, providing the basis for developing a grounded theory of enacted affordances. The theory is substantive in that it is derived from researching only one specific educational context. However, the final categories are sufficiently abstract to allow transferability, adaptation and refinement in further research within other contexts. The interview analysis created a strong foundation for the theory, by developing a core category of “Assessing subjective task value”, and its main properties and dimensions: academic emotions, relevance, materiality and self-regulation. Combining this with the insights from the artefact analysis, and with the concepts from Gibson’s affordance theory, the thesis reconceptualises digitally mediated multimodal assessment as the dynamic process of affordance enactment The study concludes that different kinds of positive and negative affordances are potentially present within any assignment, and their realisation depends both on the specific assignment features as affordance-bearers, and on the students’ ability to perceive, select and implement beneficial action possibilities. The conclusion is that whilst digitally mediated multimodal assignments can offer additional advantages compared to traditional written coursework, it is not a given that students will engage in an academically meaningful way or have beneficial and motivating experiences. Careful consideration of assessment design is therefore crucial for the successful incorporation of such assignments, weighing up the relevant affordance bearers and their potential impact on students with diverse skills, strategies and prior experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Merchant, Guy [0000-0001-8436-7675]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Guy Merchant
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00331
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2020 15:58
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:06
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27685

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