Image-Based Field Research

Education 298 // Fall 2000

Jon Wagner (instructor)

Tuesdays: 2-5 p.m., 2372 Academic Surge

4 units graduate credit

Overview: This course is designed to help you develop a critical and practical understanding of how video tape and still photographic media can be used as a resource for educational research. We will look at the following: collecting and constructing visual documents of education and schooling; organizing, indexing, and summarizing visual recordings; using visual documents in interviews and focus groups; articulating social theory with visual representations of education and schooling; and using visual documents and text in research presentations.

Format: The course combines lectures, in-class discussions of readings, photograph and video viewing, student presentations and short writing assignments. Readings and course assignments will examine education and schooling from the perspectives of visual anthropology, visual sociology, documentary film-making and documentary photography. We will review existing video and film documents. Students also will construct documents of their own and critically examine these and related course readings for their contributions to educational and social theory.

Readings: Course readings have been organized into a Reader available through Classical Notes (See attached index). No other texts will be required for this course. Reading assignments for each class session are listed on the syllabus. You are expected to come to class well-prepared to discuss the assigned readings.


Discussion prompts: Students will prepare "discussion prompts" for one or two weeks of the course readings. Each discussion prompt should include three of the following: (1) a schema for comparing/contrasting the readings for that week in terms of one or more dimensions/perspectives, etc.; (2) a brief account of something from the reading that you don’t understand; (3) a brief statement about the implications of the reading for educational (or social science) research in general; and/or (4) a brief statement about the implications of the reading for your own development as a researcher. We will take 10-30 minutes each class session to review the reading in terms of prompts prepared by students.

Field assignments: There are 4 short field assignments for this class; each concluding with an in-class presentation/exhibit/report. You must complete each assignment by the due date (see syllabus). These assignments present intriguing intellectual challenges, but they are all technically simple (you should take no more than 2-3 hours of out-of-class time to complete each one). We will examine closely the intellectual challenges presented by these assignments by looking at the different approaches students take to them and the assumptions required to produce or view visual documents of this sort.

#1: Classroom comparison: Using video tape or still photographs, prepare a visual document that compares two or more classrooms.

#2: Still photo sequence/set: Collect, acquire, or make a set of still photographs to document/examine/represent some aspect of education and/or schooling.

#3: Video sequence: Collect, acquire or record 3 minutes of "continuous sequence" video tape to document/examine/represent some aspect of education and/or schooling.

#4: Image-interview: Use some still photographs or video tape as a stimulus to interview one or two people about something related -- directly or indirectly -- to education and schooling.

During either the week before or the week each field assignment is due, you will need to write a 1-2 page account of your reflections about that field project and one or more of the course readings (i.e., 4 field projects = 4 accounts, 1-2 pages each). These are to be shared with other students in class through the VDR listserv (address: <>).

Term project & report: You have three options for completing the term project & report requirement: (1) You can present work for a project that is entirely of your own design -- but related to the focus of this course; (2) You can select one of the four field assignments listed above and carry it a step or two further; or (3) You can examine the implications of/for visual documentation for/of a concept, issue, or perspective (e.g., validity, rapport, coding, symbolic interactionism, critical theory, ethnography) that is contested/valued within social research. The last class of the quarter will be used for student presentations about term projects. In addition to the in-class presentation, you will need to prepare a written 5-10 page account/reflection of your work on the term project.

Grading: Grades will be based on the following:

30 % = Getting assigned work done on time (i.e., If you do all the work and get it done in time for other students to review in class you score big here).

30% = The quality of your work on individual assignments (i.e., How much thought, industry, and creativity are reflected in your field projects and term project?)

40% = The quality of your reflections about course readings and field assignments (i.e., as these appear in class discussions, discussion prompts, reflections on field projects, and your term project).

Pre-requisites: Graduate or upper-division undergraduate standing and consent of the instructor. Enrollment is limited to 12 students. Priority is given to doctoral students in Education. Prior hands-on experience in making photographs, video tapes or motion pictures can be useful but is neither required nor necessary.

Follow ups: This course is designed as the first quarter of a three-quarter sequence. In the second quarter, students complete a series of technical workshops and pursue individual projects under the supervision of Maureen McMahon and Jon Wagner. The third quarter course focuses on Visual Media and Instruction and will be taught Spring 1999 by Maureen McMahon. Each course can be taken on its own merits. However, we encourage students with a serious interest in this area to take Wagner’s course in the Fall, undertake a related independent study project during Winter, and then examine that project within McMahon’s course during Spring quarter.


Readings for Education 298/F98:

Visual Documentation Media and Educational Research

Ärhem, Kaj. (1993) Millennium among the Makuna: An anthropological film adventure in the northwest Amazon. Anthropology Today, 9 (3) , pp. 3-8

Becker, Howard. (1986). Telling about society (pp 121-136); Do photographs tell the truth? (pp. 273-292); and Aesthetics and truth (pp. 293-302). In Howard Becker, Doing things together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern.

Bellman, Beryl L & Jules-Rosett, Benetta. (1977). Some methodologies for understanding media. In A paradigm for looking: Cross-cultural research with visual media. Norwood, NJ. pp 17-28.

Benthall, Jonathon. (1992). Getting wise. Anthropology Today, 8 (3): 1-2.

Biella, Peter. (1988). Against reductionism and idealist self-reflexivity: The Ilparakuyo Maasai Film Project. In Jack R. Rollwagen (Ed.). Anthropological Filmmaking:. NY: Harwood. pp. 47-72.

Chaplin, Elizabeth. (1994). Victor Burgin’s Between, p. 104 -111 in Sociology and visual representation. NY, Routledge.

Collier, John. (1967). Interviewing with photographs. pp 46-66 in Visual anthropology: Photography as a research method. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Eisner, Elliot. (1997). The promise and perils of alternative forms of data representation. Educational Researcher, 26 (6): 4-10

English, Fenwick W. (1988). The utility of the camera in qualitative inquiry. Educational Researcher 17,4: 8-15.

Erickson, Frederick and Schultz, Jeffrey. (1982). Research methods and procedures: An overview. Chapter 3 from The counselor as gatekeeper: Social interaction in interviews. New York: Academic Press, pp. 49-65.

*Erickson, Frederick and Schultz, Jeffrey. (1981). When is a context? Some issues and methods in the analysis of social competence. In Judith Green and Cynthia Wallat (Eds.), Ethnography and language in educational settings. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. pp. 147-160.

Faris, James C. (1993). A response to Terence Turner. Anthropology Today, 9 (1):12-13.

Grady, John. (1996). The scope of visual sociology. Visual Sociology 11 (2): pp. 10-24.

Hagaman, Diane. (1993). The joy of victory, the agony of defeat: Stereotypes in newspaper sports feature photographs. Visual Sociology 8 (2): 48-66

Harper, Doug. (1987). Working knowledge: Skill and community in a small shop. Chicago: Univ of Chicago, pp 1-15.

Heider, Karl G. (1976). Making ethnographic film. pp 118-129 in Karl Heider, Ethnographic film. Austin, TX: University of Texas.

Jaglom, Leona and Gardner, Howard. (1981). Decoding the worlds of television. Studies in Visual Communication, 7(1): 33-47.

Lawton, Millicent. (1997). New images of teaching. Chronicle of Higher Education. (2 pp).

McPhee, John. (1969). Levels of the game. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. pp 3-15.

Mead, Margaret and Bateson, Gregory. (1977). On the use of the camera in anthropology. Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication. 4, 2 (Winter), pp 78-80.

Mead, Margaret. (1995). Visual anthropology in a discipline of words. In Paul Hockings (Ed.), Principles of visual anthropology. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 3-10

Mehan, Hugh. (1971). Accomplishing understanding in educational settings. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California, Santa Barbara: Department of Sociology. pp. 42-56

Resolution on Visual Anthropology. (1995). In Paul Hockings (Ed.), Principles of visual anthropology. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Appendix: pp 255-259.

Rieger, Jon H. (1996). Photographing social change. Visual Sociology, 11 (1): 5-49.

Ruby, Jay. (1973). Up the Zambezi with notebook and camera: Or, being an anthropologist without doing anthropology. . . with pictures. Program in Ethnographic Film Newsletter, 4 (3): 12-14.

Ruby, Jay. (1976). In a pic’s eye: Interpretive strategies for deriving significance and meaning from photographs. Afterimage (March 1976).

Schwartz, Dona. (1989). Visual ethnography: Using photography in qualitative research. Qualitative Sociology, 12 (2): 119-154.

Shanklin, Eugenia. (1979). When a good social role is worth a thousand pictures. pp 139-145 in Jon Wagner, Ed. Images of information. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE

Sorenson, E. Richard and Jablonko, Allison. (1995). Research filming of naturally occurring phenomena: Basic strategies. In Paul Hockings (Ed.), Principles of Visual Anthropology. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 147-157

Suchar, Charles S. (1997). Grounding visual sociology research in shooting scripts. Qualitative Sociology, 20, 1: 33-55.

Tobin, Joseph J; Wu, David Y. H; and Davidson, Dana H. (1988). Preschool in three cultures. New Haven: Yale. 2-11

Turner, Terence. (1992). Defiant images: The Kayapo appropriation of video. Anthropology Today, 8 (6) : 5-16

Wagner, Jon. (1979). *Information in and about photographs (pp 11-22); Avoiding error (pp. 147-160); *Photography and social science process (pp. 283-295) in Jon Wagner, Ed. Images of information. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE