About Us

What Is MODAL Research

MODAL Research Group began in 2008 as Research for Youth, Music and Education (RYME). Our research still includes a strong focus on youth and music, particularly as music relates to young people’s everyday lives. Many young people who participated in our past research told us about their engagement with music in ways that are increasingly multimodal (involving different modes of expression that include elements from visual arts, language arts, dance, and drama) as well as digital media technologies. We have therefore expanded our research to focus on a comprehensive and systematic study of artistic learning and the multiple pathways through which youth are engaged in and through the arts, particularly in relation to youth-led initiatives and digital media. 

MODAL researchers share a common vision of multimodal learning, multimedia literacies, and integrated arts education as key ingredients in educating young people in today's digital and globalized world. Our name MODAL emphasizes the interdisciplinary approaches and interconnectivity of perspectives that we bring to our research, which forms a multimodal ensemble “suggestive of discrete parts brought together as a synthesized whole, where modes, like melodies played on different instruments, are interrelated in complex ways” (MODE, 2012). 

A key aim of MODAL research is the development of evidence-based theoretical frameworks for understanding the cultural ecologies and learning trajectories of diverse youth’s artistic learning and arts engagement in a wide variety of contexts. We hope that the outcomes of our research will assist in expanding artistic learning opportunities in multi-arts, digital media arts, and non-arts areas in both schools and the wider community. Schools as institutions have been slow to encourage expansive multimodal or integrated arts learning opportunities. Expansive learning is a key component of multidimensional transformative pedagogies and emergent or “lived” curricula approaches that foster learning through relationship building, student-centred activity, and creative collaborations. These approaches emphasize cyclical rather than linear approaches to arts education through creative collaborations, inquiry, dialogue, reflection and action. These skills build on the foundation of traditional school curriculum and provide expansive opportunities for learning, relationship building, meaning making, and communication in and through the arts.

Research Objectives

Knowledge Mobilization

At MODAL Research, we believe that the closer a consumer of knowledge is to the generation of knowledge, the better the uptake of the knowledge, especially when there are different perspectives and worldviews involved. We therefore aim to involve youth in thinking about key issues that impact on their artistic learning and arts engagement and facilitate the exchange of knowledge among youth, academic, and non-academic stakeholders, including: youth and families, artists and arts educators, school district administrators, provincial arts organizations, youth clubs, faith-based organizations, business and industry including technology and digital media, youth media and arts events planning organizations and community policy-makers that affect youth. Together, by creating opportunities for partnerships, these representatives will help us address the different contexts in which youth live and participate in the arts. We welcome new partners, and if you are interested in joining us or would like further information, please email modal@sfu.ca