This study investigates the inclusion and expansion of multimodal research in academic and dissertation writing, exploring how to overcome the challenges and obstacles encountered in the creation of multimodal doctoral dissertations in the field of education. The work starts by looking at multimodality in education in general – trying to understand what is multimodality and its application in the classroom. Next, I look more specifically at the literature related to the use of multimodality in academia and dissertation writing. The literature review reveals a lot of studies on the inclusion of multimodality in K-12 education, and a growing interest in the incorporation of multimodality in college composition classes. However, a gap exists with regards to multimodal scholarship and dissertation writing in particular. The number of successfully defended multimodal dissertations in the field of education is still quite limited and the obstacles preventing the production of multimodal academic work, will be discussed in the findings section of this study.
The theoretical foundations of multimodality are explored, with the inclusion of key scholars and concepts that guide the field and drawing from Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development and Freire's Critical Pedagogy. To gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and difficulties in producing a multimodal dissertation, a case study was conducted with four multimodal dissertations successfully defended in the last ten years in the humanities. Analysis of the interviews and additional university data were used to uncover the challenges and obstacles encountered by the study participants and help provide recommendations for future students who wish to produce a multimodal doctoral dissertation.