Visualizing a reformed writing classroom

Ph.D. candidate Kristi Morris designs multimodal instruction for undergraduate writers

Fifth-year Ph.D. candidate Kristi Morris is a long-time Wayne Stater: “I was drawn to WSU because it is situated in the heart of Detroit. I love working with the faculty and even more with the diverse student body. There are opportunities to learn and grow in ways that other R1 institutions may not offer merely because of student demographics.”

A Dearborn native, this mother of four has lived and taught in metro Detroit her entire life. Coming from a K-12 teaching background, Morris wanted to pair her degrees in art history with a deep dive into the teaching of writing: “I research multimodal instruction and visual rhetoric, especially in writing program administration and implementation in the first-year writing classroom.”

In January, Morris will present her digital dissertation, "Focusing into Design and Blurring Out Traditional Writing: A Mixed-Method Student-Centered Study of Multimodal Composition," hosted on her website,, at the annual Modern Language Association convention taking place in Philadelphia, PA in 2024. Her presentation is part of a unique opportunity to share the "Next-Gen” of dissertations in doctoral humanities research.

A dissertation isn’t built in a vacuum— friends and family create a support system to help get the work done. In regards to important relationships she’s built at Wayne State, Morris cites her dissertation director, Adrienne Jankens as a major influence on her success in the Ph.D. program in rhetoric and writing studies. Going against the traditional format of a written dissertation has not come without its challenges, but she shares, “Dr. Jankens has been the answer to my every question and the voice of much-needed support. She is not only my guide but a source of inspiration.”

As the creator of the first multimodal dissertation at Wayne State, Morris recognizes the impact has had on her success at Wayne State: “I have had hundreds of students, many of whom have forged great working relationships. [Through our relationships] I have learned so much about myself as an instructor, but more importantly, I have recognized the ways that student practice can inform my approach to the classroom.”

By Colleen Hart, Ph.D. ‘24

← Back to listing