Engaging the Participant: Use of a Photographic Method
Anderson, Sue A.
MetadataShow full item record
Session presented on Thursday, July 23, 2015: Purpose: A challenge of conducting qualitative research within a culture that differs from the researcher's is to capture the emic perspective and accurately and respectfully present the participants' story. The purpose of this presentation is to describe how a photographic method was used to engage Hispanic mothers in the research process and how it contributed to deeper understanding and knowledge development. Methods: Ten English-speaking Hispanic mothers of children aged 6-10 were invited to photograph their children's leisure time physical activity for one week. After the film was developed the participants performed initial data analysis by sorting their photographs into categories of activities. After creating categories of activities based on the pictures, the participants then engaged in photo-elicited interviews in which they told their story about each picture and leisure time activity category. Data analysis incorporated Spradley's Developmental Research Sequence. Results: This method reduced researcher bias and was less intrusive than sitting in the participant's home observing activities or sitting at a playground, watching children at play. It allowed for participant observation in a situation where it is not culturally acceptable for adults to sit and observe children, even in public venues. Important nuances of the children's leisure time activities may have been missed if traditional ethnographic participant observations, which focused only on the children's physical activities, were used. While the researcher's observations may have addressed the research questions, it is possible that those observations would not have been as culturally relevant as the story told by the participants. The participants provided their emic perspective through their pictures, categorization of their children's leisure activities, and photo-elicited interviews. Their willingness to co-create this research permitted a more balanced and rich description of the children's activities to emerge. Conclusion: In this study, participant-produced photography permitted participant observation in a non-intrusive, culturally and ethically-sensitive and appropriate manner. The participants understood the questions posed by this research and helped to co-produce the resulting knowledge through their photographs and narrative. During interviews, viewing their photographs helped to sharpen the participant's memory, reduce misunderstanding, and provide more in-depth information.