This page serves as a resource for WPAs and composition instructors, who would like a sample multimodal assignment sheet to demonstrate how the principles of universal design might be implemented. This sample assignment draws from the NCTE’s 2005 “Multimodal Literacies” position statement, which suggests that the “use of different modes of expression in student work should be integrated into the overall literacy goals of the curriculum” and the 2014 WPA’s “Outcome Statement for First Year Composition“, which suggests that composition students should both “learn common formats and/or design feature for different kinds of texts” and “adapt composing processes for a variety of technologies and modalities.” As such, this sample multimodal assignment may not fit with the particularities of every writing program, but provides a starting point for those wondering how the seven principles of Universal Design might influence the creations of a multimodal assignment.


Assignment Description: 

In Unit X, you will create a multimodal argument, which means that you will create a composition that uses multiples modes (i.e. ways) to best communicate your argument, given your audience’s needs and your own abilities. To do so, you may combine aural, linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural modes to make your argument. We will read about each of these modes, and we will also discuss them in class, so that you understand how to engage them rhetorically and accessibly. As such, you may select your own topic and argument; you may also select which modes you wish to engage to represent your argument. We will brainstorm topics and multimodal projects in class, but I am happy to support you in developing a project, as needed.


Learning Outcomes: 
  • Learn common formats and/or design feature for different kinds of texts
  • Adapt composing processes for a variety of technologies and modalities.
  • To review work-in-progress in collaborative peer groups for purposes other than editing
  • Respond appropriately to different kinds of rhetorical situations


  • Total Weight: 15% of course grade. 
  • Criteria:
    • Participation in composing processes — 20%
      • project proposal, workshops, and conferences
    • Participation in Peer review — 20%
    • Effectiveness of overall argument — 20%
    • Project’s overall accessibility to multiple audiences — 20%
    • Presentation of project — 20%



This unit will take place over the course of five to six weeks, and it will be broken down into four parts.

  • Understanding multimodality and accessibility: During week 1, we will read and discuss multimodality as a class. You will gain understanding of each mode (aural, linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural) and strategies for making modes accessible to a variety of audience(s)
  • Defining an argument and identifying modes: During Week 2, we will continue to read/discuss multimodality and accessibility as a class. In class, we will brainstorm ideas for multimodal compositions. Before week 3, you will submit a proposal which describes your topic and argument as well as how you wish to represent it multimodally. 
  • Conferencing and Workshopping: During Week 3, we will discuss your proposed topic and argument as well as the modes you wish to engage. I will offer informal feedback along with recommendations for tools and resources you might use. In addition to conferencing, you may use this time to work on your project in the manner that you find most productive. This might include: researching, composing, working with peers, or something else.
  • Workshopping and Peer Review: During Week 4, we will continue workshopping in class. During this time, I will work with you to provide informal feedback on whatever stage of the composing process you are in. In addition to workshopping, we will also do peer review, in which you will show your project (or a part of it) to your peers to elicit their constructive feedback. We will discuss, as a class, how to provide constructive feedback before peer review.
  • Presentations: During Week 5, you will present your multimodal projects to the class. You may choose the best way to do this. For instance, you might deliver an oral presentation. Alternatively, you might prerecord something or find a creative way for your audience to engage with your project.
  • Submission: you may submit your multimodal project at any time during week 5 or 6. Please communicate with me, as early as possible, if there are issues which prevent you from meeting this timeline.


What kind of composition should you craft?

There are more possibilities, and you are encouraged to be creative. The goal is to create something that purposefully engages multiple modes of communication. The other goal is to choose modes that best communicate your particular meaning, given your particular abilities and resources. I have included some examples as a starting point to your inventive process; we will also engage examples of a variety of multimodal compositions in class. 

  • Comic or Graphic narrative
  • Artistic collage
  • Conference Presentation
  • Video (documentary, for instance)
  • Audio Essay (like a podcast)
  • Photo Essay
  • Movie Mashup
  • Dramatic Performance/Skit
  • Demonstration
  • Exhibition



To create a multimodal composition, it is necessary to examine the affordances of selecting each mode of representation. This means thinking about what is gained and lost when you choose one mode of communication over another; it also means thinking what modes will allow YOU to best communicate your argument.  

Example: When I was an undergraduate, I enrolled in a course that required me to create a documentary. Initially, I wanted to tape interviews with people from my hometown to demonstrate the racism embedded within the community. However, I soon realized that people were not comfortable talking on camera about their racist values and beliefs.

While “video” may have been more compelling to my audience, it was not a feasible option. So, I had to find a different way to communicate my argument. Ultimately, I decided to create a book that had images of my hometown and included interviews, but did not expose who said what. The result was a project that did not have moving images and voice narration (a loss), but that did show honest perspectives (gain).


  • “NCTE Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies.” NCTE. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  • WPA Outcomes Statement for First Year Composition. Council of Writing Program Administrators Accessed 3 May 2018.