My name is David Urias. I am the Founding Director of the Evaluation Research Network at Drexel University. In an earlier posting, I shared the basic concepts of photo journaling. This time, I want to talk about the value and process of using photo journaling as an evaluative tool of student participant growth trajectories.
Hot Tip: Product Analysis: As a form of qualitative data, photo journals are analyzed thematically; specifically, writing is examined for wording which describes the skills learned and insights gained from the program, along with the ability to use such skills and insights during their experience. The unexamined experience leads to stagnation. Photo journaling, unlike blogs (which often amounts to a cursory recounting of the week’s events–like a news report), is a more structured method of self-reflection, one that requires an earnest effort and pure intention. It allows one to understand one’s self, his/her relationships, and the fundamental nature of existence. While a chosen photo is a snapshot in time, the photo journaling process broadens one’s view of reality. It is as if, standing on top of a mountain, a shift from a zoom lens to a wide-angle lens occurs. One can then appreciate the broader panorama – the former perspective still included, but accompanied by much that had been hidden. And that which was hidden makes the view extraordinary.
Initial analysis should identify the level of reflection. Entries are then coded independently by two individuals unfamiliar with the task, and then compared for differences which are to be resolved by consensus. The level of reflection, as reported in Chabon & Lee-Wilkerson (2006), could be used for coding as follows:
- Level 1 – Descriptive: The participant provided evidence that new knowledge was obtained, which allowed him/her to make sense of new experiences or make links between old and new knowledge (what one used to think/did vs. what was learned and how it affected him/her).
- Level 2 – Emphatic: The participant expressed thoughts or emotions about others and self. S/he reflected their experience (emotions, attitudes, beliefs) onto how future participants may feel or react to the experience. Participant empathizes with those around him/her.
- Level 3 – Analytic: The participant demonstrated the application of learning to a broader context of personal and professional life. Photo journal entry provided evidence of learning/growth in order to contrast, compare, or plan for new actions or responses. Participant also noticed unexpected positive or negative outcomes related to the project.
- Level 4 – Metacognitive: Participant demonstrated examination of the learning process, showing what learning occurred, how learning occurred, and how newly acquired knowledge or learning altered existing knowledge. Participant plans to change future behavior based on the project experience and its outcome(s) on his/her life.