Bringing a Multimodal Lens to Medical Education

Dr Christen Rachul in the Multimodality Talks Series 2024 – Conversations with Multimodality.


Presenter: Dr. Christen Rachul (University of Manitoba).

Discussants: Prof. Martin Engebretsen (University of Agder), Prof. Jeff Bezemer (UCL Institute of Education).


From the classroom to the clinic, communicative practices in medical education shape how medical learners understand knowledge, relate to others, and construct their identities. Bringing a multimodal lens to varied learning contexts can provide valuable insights that will enhance the training of knowledgeable clinicians who are prepared to adapt to rapid advancements in technology, changing patterns of illness, and expanded understandings of access and equity in healthcare.

In this talk, I will present previous research studies that use multimodal interaction analysis (Norris, 2004, 2011) to examine how information is shared and recontextualized in new contexts within healthcare and medical education. Additionally, I will explore how multimodality more broadly can contribute meaningfully to research, teaching, and learning in medical education.


Dr. Christen Rachul is the Director of Research in the Office of Innovation and Scholarship in Medical Education and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. She received a PhD in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and her research draws on genre theory and multimodal analysis to explore how multimodal discourses shape and are shaped by social practices in health and medicine. Her research experience also includes exploring health and science communication in news and popular media.


  • Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction. New York: Taylor & Francis
    Norris, S. (2011). Identity in (inter)action: Introducing multimodal (inter)action analysis. Berlin: DeGruyter Mouton


Jeff Bezemer

Prof. Jeff Bezemer is a Professor of Communication, Head of the Department of Culture, Communication and Media and Vice-Dean (Health) at the UCL Institute of Education. He studied Intercultural Communication (MA, 1999) and Educational Linguistics (PhD, 2003) at Tilburg University, Netherlands, before joining the Institute of Education in 2004. He worked at Imperial College London between 2009 and 2011.


Bezemer, J. Social semiotics: Theorising Meaning Making (2020). In: Nestel D, Greedy G (eds). Clinical Education for the Health Professions: Theory and Practice. Springer.

Martin Engebretsen

Prof. Martin Engebretsen is professor of language and communication at University of Agder, Norway. In his research he combines semiotics and media studies, with a special focus on visual and multimodal discourse in the digitalized public sphere. Focused fields of investigation in recent years include data visualization, museum studies and health communication on social media.


Engebretsen, M. (2023). Communicating health advice on social media: A multimodal case study. In Mediekultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 39(74).

Engebretsen, M. (2024). The role, impact, and responsibilities of health experts on social media. A focus group study with future healthcare workers. Frontiers of Communication, Sec. Health Communication, 9/2024.

Engebretsen, M. (2024). På YouTube og Instagram i folkehelsas tjeneste. En studie av tre helsearbeidere på sosiale medier. [On YouTube and Instagram in the service of public health. A study of three health workers on social media]. Norsk Medietidsskrift, 4/2023. (in press)

Content reviewer:
Marcus Emas