Picture perfect : the potential of photos in the tertiary classroom : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in Adult Education, Massey University, New Zealand
Photos are taken in order to capture a moment in time. Their very nature inspires a
desire to share that moment in time. Mystery surrounds the participants involved:
Who took this photo? Who are the people in the photo? Why was the photo taken
and what is the story they have to tell? Emotions are ignited and remembered every
time we glance at a photo. Something so small, that can stir such power, deserves to
be exploited as much as possible in the very visual world in which we live today.
The purpose of this study was to investigate ways in which photos were currently
being used by a group of tertiary teachers in an Institute of Technology and
Polytechnic in New Zealand. The study was exploratory in nature examining reasons
why teachers were using photos and investigating the benefits of doing so.
Additionally, this study deliberated ways photos could be utilised more to encourage
interactive use of photos in tertiary contexts, in order to enrich teachers’ and
students’ educational experiences. A survey, interviews and classroom observations
were carried out in data collection to help gain an insight.
Results showed many benefits in using photos to promote ‘Huakina’, the opening of
the door to learning. These included encouraging student engagement, bridging
knowledge gaps, enhancing and developing critical thinking, building relationships
and social learning, and highlighted benefits for assessment purposes. The benefits
of using photos in an interactive manner through the use of open-ended questions,
as in the Huakina approach, was found to foster deep learning. The study revealed
the need for teachers to carefully plan their use of photos emphasising the need for
clear scaffolding and modelling of tasks, along with the need to ensure constructive
alignment with the intended learning outcomes. A prominence was placed on the
necessity for visual literacy guidelines to be delineated in order to utilise photos
more, along with an emphasis for further professional development for teachers.
The role of institutional sponsorship comes into play with staff requiring time and
knowledge to plan for the better use of photos to enhance teaching and learning.