Student Examples


The following two student examples represent two different approaches that my students tend to take when composing their video arguments. The first approach consists of using primarily Internet materials while the second approach involves using primarily student-created materials along with some Internet materials. Both students signed an informed consent form granting me permission to analyze and discuss their academic argument, video argument, and reflection. The goal of my analysis is to show how the students remediated their academic arguments into video arguments using multiple modalities that make rhetorical appeals in order to communicate to a target audience for a specific purpose.




Phil represents the approach of using primarily Internet materials to compose a video argument. Before I present an analysis of his work, I’d like to invite you to watch his video argument entitled “Alternative Fuels: A Step Towards the Future.”



In his reflection, Phil defined his target audience as “anyone who is interested in alternative fuels.” His specific purpose for communicating was to “[show] people some of the options that are out there for alternative fuels, and to show them which one [he] felt would be the best for the automotive industry.” To accomplish this goal, Phil remediated the structure of his academic argument into his video argument. In both arguments he began by presenting facts and statistics that establish a problem that needs to be addressed by alternative fuels. Then he reviewed four alternative fuels—methanol, hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel—and argued that ethanol is the best short-term solution while biodiesel is the best long-term solution. As for the content, Phil remediated much of the material from his academic argument, but there are places where he left out material, added new material, or reorganized the material. Here are examples of each of these types of choices. In his academic argument Phil offered a defense of why ethanol should be considered a short-term solution, but he didn’t include this material in his video argument. When discussing the cons of hydrogen, Phil included in his video argument a new point that there aren’t enough fueling stations due to lack of demand, which wasn’t part of his academic argument. Lastly, in presenting the arguments against methanol, Phil reorganized the content for his video argument so the point about how “it is highly explosive in an enclosed container” is the last one discussed. Phil’s decisions to leave out, add, or reorganize the material are representative of the kinds of choices my students typically wrestle with when remediating their academic arguments into video arguments. These choices show that remediation is not a simple transfer of content and structure but instead is a process that involves reshaping the material so that it’s rhetorically effective in light of the purpose, target audience, and medium.


Phil used a wide range of modalities—video footage, photographs, images, visual effects, written text, and music—to compose his video argument. Except for the visual effects and written text created in iMovie, all of these modalities are Internet materials he downloaded and used following Fair Use guidelines. The written text is clearly the driving modality. As Phil indicated in his reflection, “I really used pictures and video to back up my [written] text.” But with that said, the visual and aural elements add layers of meaning that make rhetorical appeals the written text couldn’t communicate alone. A good example is Phil’s discussion of methanol. The written text was revised during the remediation process, but it’s essentially the same scientific-oriented appeals to logos and ethos that Phil wrote in his academic argument. However, the photograph of two bottles of methanol and the image of methanol’s molecular structure both add another layer of meaning helping the audience to visualize methanol, while enhancing the appeals to logos and ethos. When the written text on how methanol is “highly explosive in an enclosed container” is shown on the screen, the audience is also shown a photograph of a burning car followed by a photograph of an exploding car. While the written text communicates scientific facts, the photographs show the audience the potential danger to them if methanol is used as an alternative fuel. These images make a strong appeal to pathos. Throughout this sequence, an eerie instrumental piece from the band Explosions In The Sky is playing. It starts out quiet and builds in intensity as the sequence moves to discussing the problems with methanol. This music underscores the message that methanol is dangerous, contributing to the appeal to pathos. As this analysis shows, the use of multiple modalities enables Phil to make appeals to logos, pathos, and ethos.




Paige represents the approach of using primarily student-created materials along with some Internet materials to compose a video argument. Before I present an analysis of her work, I’d like to invite you to watch her video argument entitled “Alternative Medicine for Chronic Pain.”



In her reflection, Paige defined her target audience as “anybody with chronic pain.” Her specific purpose for communicating was to present “information on a few different types of alternative treatments for chronic pain.” To accomplish this goal, Paige—like Phil—remediated the structure of her academic argument into her video argument. In both arguments she began by identifying problems with conventional medicine followed by presenting information about alternative treatments. As for the content, Paige remediated much of the material from her academic argument, but like Phil there are places where she left out material, added new material, or reorganized the material. Some of these decisions are the result of reshaping the material to make it more rhetorically effective for the purpose and target audience of her video argument. However, another big contributing factor was Paige’s desire to compose a video that’s creative. Here’s how she described this goal in her reflection: “I thought if I worked really hard and came up with something creative and unique for my video, it would help raise my ethos and show that ‘hey, she was really into this topic and it shows by how she constructed and thought out her video.’” Early in the composing process Paige realized that in order to bring her creative vision to life, she would need to create most of her own video footage and photographs.


An analysis of the first part of Paige’s video argument will demonstrate how she used materials she created to introduce chronic pain and the problematic nature of using conventional medicine to treat it. While most of the written text is similar to the appeals to logos she wrote in her academic argument, Paige’s use of multiple modalities adds layers of meaning her academic argument is unable to communicate. Paige begins her video argument with a question: “If our bodies spoke what would they say?” Video footage of a crowed city sidewalk acts as the background for the written text and connects to the use of “our bodies” in the question. This opening is followed by a series of six photographs of Paige with words written in black marker on various parts of her body representing answers to the question. Originally, Paige had wanted to recruit people of various ages for these photographs, but that plan didn’t work out. Regardless, her creative approach still draws in the audience—those who suffer from chronic pain—by getting them to visually identify with different parts of the body. This material also helps establish Paige’s ethos because the audience gets a sense that she can relate to their health conditions. Later, Paige spells out the words “The Bigger Problem” using photographs of letters created with pills and follows it with video footage of pills, some with writing on them saying “The cost” and “230.7 million prescriptions sold.” This footage is followed by written text that states: “And They Still Aren’t Working.” This sequence makes appeals to both logos and pathos, setting up the audience for video footage of pills dropping and written text asking: “So why not try something else?” Throughout this sequence, a piano instrumental by Mark Salona is playing. This somber music makes an appeal to pathos and reinforces the message that chronic pain is a serious problem that conventional medicine fails to address effectively. As this analysis reveals, Paige’s self-created materials enabled her to manifest her creative vision while making appeals to logos, pathos, and ethos.