Image, text and design: students' semiotic choices in nonfiction compositions

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1 Scopus citations


This study investigates the ways in which first graders utilised a variety of semiotic resources when authoring nonfiction compositions during a nonfiction genre writing unit of study. Grounded in social semiotics and multimodality theories, the study uses a case study approach to explore the text, image and design resources used in students' multimodal compositions as a group followed by an in-depth examination of two students' compositions. The data collection includes student compositions, video of classroom interactions and video recorded student composition/artefact elicitation interviews in which students discussed their composition process, authorial decision making and final composition. A multimodal approach to data analysis examines the semiotic resources used by the children, their meaning potential and purposes for inclusion in their nonfiction compositions. Findings suggest students drew upon a range of modalities, including visual images, graphic design features and movable text, in addition to written language to share their ideas and present their information through multimodal compositions. Implications include a need for curricular and instructional advancements with a greater focus on multimodal composing techniques to create inclusive spaces where students can more fully represent what they want to communicate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-354
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • early literacy
  • informational writing
  • multimodality
  • nonfiction writing
  • semiotic resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics


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