David Urias on the Analysis of Photo Journaling

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.
This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

1 thought on “David Urias on the Analysis of Photo Journaling”

  1. The recent webinar on this topic was great. I have some questions relatong to practical issues that come up in the developing world. Who provides the cameras? In cases where students/participants cannot provide the cameras, one may provide disposable cameras. However, the hard copy photos produced are not as easy to share. Any thoughts on such aspects.

    Also, I wanted to probe how the participant/student selects photos from among the many he or she takes and (a) whether the Evaluator gives guidance on this selection and (b) whether any problems issues arise related to the student’s inclusion of some images or exclusion of other in the photo journaling process.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.