Learning to communicate effectively through writing is one of the most demanding challenges for any student, but for some students learning to write raises special barriers or impediments. The experimental studies collected here provide evidence for the benefits of offering alternative media for expression for some or all students. The advantages of using a broader range of media – including word-processing, audio recording, video or film, multimedia, images, drawing, animation, graphics – are that building fluency with a wider range of options prepares all students better for the communication skills they will need in the 21st century and provides valuable alternatives for those students who have persistent difficulties in written expression. The scholarly reviews and opinion pieces provide additional arguments for why it is important to expand the media available in our classrooms.
Experimental & Quantitative Evidence
Bangert-Drowns, R. L. (1993). The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational Research, 63(1), 69-93.
Daiute, C., & Morse, F. (1994). Access to knowledge and expression: Multimedia writing tools for students with diverse needs and strengths. Journal of Special Education Technology, 12(3), 221-256.
Dalton, B., Tivnan, T., Riley, M. K., Rawson, P., & Dias, D. (1995). Revealing competence: Fourth-grade students with and without learning disabilities show what they know on paper-and-pencil and hands-on performance assessments. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 10(4), 197-214.
Dalton, B. D., Herbert, M., & Deysher, S. (2003, December). Scaffolding students’ response to digital literature with embedded strategy supports: The role of audio-recording vs. writing student response options. Paper presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference, Scottsdale, AZ.
Dimitriadi, Y. (2001). Evaluating the use of multimedia authoring with dyslexic learners: A case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(3), 265-275.
Garthwait, A. (2004). Use of hypermedia in one middle school: A qualitative field study. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 13(3), 219-243.
Gersten, R., & Baker, S. (2001). Teaching expressive writing to students with learning disabilities: A meta-analysis.The Elementary School Journal, 97(5), 475-500.
Goldberg, A., Russell, M., & Cook, A. (2003). The effect of computers on student writing: A meta-analysis of studies from 1992 to 2002. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 2(1), 1-24.
Gouzouasis, P. (1994). Multimedia constructions of children: An exploratory study. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 5(3), 273-284.
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal Educational Psychology, 99(3), 445-476.
Henry, A. (2002). Computer-graphics and the literary construct: A learning method. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(1), 7-15.
MacArthur, C. A., & Graham, S. (1987). Learning disabled students' composing under three methods of text production: Handwriting, word processing, and dictation. Journal of Special Education, 21(3), 22-42.
Morocco, C. C., Dalton, B., & Tivnan, T. (1992). The impact of computer-supported writing instruction on fourth-grade students with and without learning disabilities. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 8(1), 87-113.
Parker, D. (1999). You've read the book, now make the film: Moving image media, print literacy and narrative.English in Education, 33(1), 24-35.
Reinking, D., & Watkins, J. (2000). A formative experiment investigating the use of multimedia book reviews to increase elementary students' independent reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(3), 389-419.
Riddle, E.M. (1995). Communication through multimedia in an elementary classroom. East Lansing, MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 384 346). Retrieved July 16, 2009, from ERIC database.
van Essen, G., & Hamaker, C. (1990). Using self-generated drawings to solve arithmetic word problems. Journal of Educational Research, 83(6), 301-312.
Vincent, J. (2001). The role of visually rich technology in facilitating children's writing. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17(3), 242-250.
Wilson, M. (1999). Student-generated multimedia presentations: Tools to help build and communicate mathematical understanding. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 18(2), 145-156.
Scholarly Reviews & Expert Opinions
Atlas, J. C. (2007). Lights, camera, reading. Reading Today, 24(4), 44-44.
Church, W., Gravel, B., & Rogers, C. (2007). Teaching parabolic motion with stop-action animations. International Journal of Engineering Education, 23(5), 861-867.
Davis, D. (2000). Eye Yummies: Computer graphics and alternative computer access. Closing the Gap, 19(4), 1-6-7, 44.
Dillner, M. (2001). Using media flexibly to compose and communicate. Reading Online, 5(1). Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=/articles/dilln....
Eagleton, M. (2002). Making text come to life on the computer: Toward an understanding of hypermedia literacy.Reading Online, 6(1). Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=eagleton2/index....
Hibbing, A. N., & Rankin-Erickson, J. L. (2003). A picture is worth a thousand words: Using visual images to improve comprehension for middle school struggling readers. Reading Teacher, 56(8), 758.
Ikan, P. A., & Conderman, G. (1996). Lights, camera, action!: A language arts activity for middle school students.Teaching Exceptional Children, 28(4), 69-71.
Kendrick, M., & Mckay, R. (2004). Drawings as an alternative way of understanding young children's constructions of literacy. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 4(1), 109-128.
Labbo, L. D. (2004). From writing workshop to multimedia workshop. Language Arts, 82(2), 119-120.
Morse, T. (2003). Enhancing special education students' multiple literacies through multimedia activities. Journal of Reading Education, 28(2), 39-40.
Short, K. G., Kauffman, G., & Kahn, L. H. (2000). 'I just need to draw': Responding to literature across multiple sign systems. Reading Teacher, 54(2), 160-171.
Strangman, N. (2002). Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad: Bringing a second-grade social studies curriculum online. Reading Online, 5(9). Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/voices/taverna_hongell/.
Strangman, N. (2003). Literary and visual literacy for all: A fourth-grade study of Alice in Wonderland. Reading Online, 6(7). Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/voices/edinger/.
Sumrell, J. (2005). Documenting children’s learning thought multi-media projects. Closing the Gap, 24(4), 1-6.
Wissick, C. A. (1996). Multimedia: Enhancing instruction for students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(5), 494-503.
Yerrick, R. K., & Ross, D. L. (2001). I read, I learn, iMovie: Strategies for developing literacy in the context of inquiry-based science instruction. Reading Online, 5(1). Retrieved February 5, 2009, from www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=/articles/yerrick/inde....