Chapter 5: A Pedagogy of Teaching for Transfer across Media

5.4 Conclusions

I started this study seeking to better understand transfer and how it worked for students, especially for those who composed digital media products in writing courses. Building on scholarship by Shipka, Halbritter, Alexander and Rhodes, and DePalma, I sought to provide empirical data that spoke to the intersection between digital media composition and the transfer of writing knowledge. I used Nowacek and Selber to focus my attention on certain elements of transfer and digital literacies as I considered student experiences with video, and I thought carefully about meta-awareness about composition, how it might be observed, and its relationship to transfer.

Through this work, I have come to understand transfer differently than I did before. I narrate, animate, and visualize this continually evolving understanding in the following video.

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I explain an evolving understanding of transfer as enmeshed, circular, and web-like.

The images in this video are by Mr. Nixter, Thomas Hawk, Knilram, and Julie Falk, and others are in the public domain. Moving images of water and ink are by Mitch Martinez from

Descriptive Transcript

Crystal: I now understand transfer as more enmeshed and circular than I did before the study. A black and white image of an empty highway leading into the distance is shown. Then, an image of tubes and connected machinery is layered on top of that image.
Crystal: While other transfer scholars point out that transfer is nonlinear, the many directions of student learning in the first-year writing study along with the back and forth movement of students' knowledge about composing, emphasized transfer's circular nature for me. An image of a drop of water falling into a pool and making ripples is shown and then reversed. Then, an image of a large, old wooden wheel is shown.
Crystal: Rather than moving from point A to point B, knowledge within a transfer across media framework extends out and retracts in multiple directions, and it loops back over itself as it is applied in different situations. A zoomed-in image of a black ink drop growing and retracting on a page is shown. A spider web can be seen in the background of the ink drop.
Crystal: I now think of writing knowledge when applied and reconstructed across media as a web where strands grow thicker, stronger, and closer together, and thus knowledge is able to be considered, used, applied, and adapted more often and in various contexts.A montage of different spider webs is shown.

This study also highlights the power of multimodal production for student learning. Many participants demonstrated transfer across media as they composed videos, and they developed a critical multimodal literacy along with functional and rhetorical literacies through production. These students considered new knowledge and built different kinds of meta-awareness through composing, and they put much of what they were learning into practice in their videos, even if in simple or exploratory ways. Some of this learning became evident in student products: Evan's masterful use of color in "College Collage," for example, or Lauren's use of juxtaposition and shifts in "Saving the Arts." Evidence of student learning, though, is revealed not only through products, but also through considering the products in conjunction with observing process and listening carefully to student voices. These voices can be heard in interviews, during class discussions, and in reflective writing, and many became louder and more confident through prompting. Transfer across Media calls attention to and amplifies these voices through its form, as we see and hear students learn to articulate, demonstrate, and transfer their writing knowledge across media.

In many ways, my learning through multimodal production parallels that of study participants. Through a methodology that places value on many interdependent aspects of writing experience and through multimodal video-based methods, I was able to consider student experiences and key concepts in various multisensory ways. I collected many kinds of data, and I analyzed them using various digital and non-digital tools: paper, pens, keyboards, coding software, and video-editing software among them. I thought about concepts and the data, wrote out my interpretations, and was able to see and hear my interpretations shift and grow as I composed videos. Making videos opened up places where I needed and wanted to write more; writing more gave me ideas for exploring, watching, showing, telling, and listening through video. Functionally, I figured out new-to-me video editing techniques, and I learned basic HTML coding to present the study through this eBook. Rhetorically, I thought and thought again about audiences for this work, crafting the most persuasive narrative I could for teachers and researchers in the field. My own critical multimodal literacy grew, too, as I grappled with Selber's definitions and thought repeatedly about how best to combine and present the images, sounds, and documents I had collected. Like the experiences of study participants, my experiences as a digital writing researcher demonstrate application, reconstruction, and transfer across media.

When I described transfer to John during an interview, he said, "That transfer concept sounds really cool." He continued, "That sounds really accurate, too, the transfer. I think I do that without even thinking about it." Along with those of many of the other students represented in this eBook, John's account makes clear that transfer is indeed occurring in and around writing classes, and as Nowacek has stated, it happens more often and in more ways than we know how to observe, study, and support. As I have shown, digital media, and video composition in particular, give us one entry into the various processes of transfer. Video is a site where students can connect, strengthen, and extend the web of their writing knowledge through multimodal production. And of course I agree with John—when you see and hear transfer across media and it makes a difference in how and why students learn to write, that is indeed really cool.