At the boundary between speech and writing: fostering productive interdisciplinary collaboration on multimodal communication courses
First-year composition courses have long been a focus of considerable research and pedagogical development in English studies. In recent years, we have seen a movement to transform the traditional first-year composition course from one that focuses exclusively on writing to one that is "multimodal," integrating elements of oral and visual communication to better prepare students for communication practices in the twenty-first century. The successful development of these multimodal communication courses requires collaboration between faculty in various disciplines such as speech and design. However, little research has been conducted on the ways in which interdisciplinary collaboration on multimodal communication courses could be made more productive. Particularly in the case of English and speech departments, a long history of separation has made it difficult for faculty and scholars in these disciplines to work together.
This dissertation presents a study conducted on the interdisciplinary collaborative experiences of speech and English faculty at a small Midwestern liberal arts university who came together to develop a multimodal communication course. Through one-on-one interviews with faculty who participated in creating this course, I was able to determine some of the discontinuities that arose between members of the two disciplines. I apply Sanne F. Akkerman and Arthur Bakker's model of boundary crossing learning mechanisms to illustrate the ways in which the collaboration between speech and English faculty could have been more productive. Ultimately, this study calls for a reuniting of speech and composition in the service of creating more effective multimodal communication classes that integrate the pedagogical traditions of each discipline.