Share post
New photo

Reflecting on Working with Images & multimodality SOCRMx Week 4.1

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017, 10:41

1.  What three (good) research questions could be answered using this approach?.

·       What are the meanings and categories of experience that participants associate with concepts of ‘spaces’ and/or ‘room’ from being invited to make artefacts that reflect comparatively on their online and offline learning environments?

·       How would such socio-psychological phenomena be utilised in innovative digital pedagogies that utilise areness of the learners interacting environments for study?

·       Is it necessary to teach literacy in reading and making multi-modal texts in order to utilise such methods?


2. What assumptions about the nature of knowledge (epistemology) seem to be associated with this approach?

·        That knowledge is structured by in inherited resources in language, images and embodied action that form systems of communication that are complex and difficult to categorise as a single and simple response.

·        That knowledge is related to an interaction between the knowing subject, known discourses embodied in conventions, roles and institutions and the object that is to be known. The contributions of each will differ in different instances – when for instance we compare a material object with one that is entirely constructed by discourse.

·        That being the case, the researcher’s contribution to the act of knowing in collection and analysis of data must be made available as part of the outcome of the product and as reflexive analysis.

·        This approach does not see ‘subjectivity’ or ‘intersubjectivity’ as a bias in knowing the object but an essential part of the act of knowing. It cannot be ‘controlled’ out of existence.


3. What kinds of ethical issues arise?

·        Acts of interpretation of others and self are subject to power relations in different social contexts that can be a cause of significant harm to the participant in a world of unequal power (the ‘real’ world).

·        Hence no interpretation is innocent of judgement at some level in the production and distribution of outcomes related to the meanings of someone’s world or actions in it.

·        Gaining truly informed consent can therefore be difficult.

·        The participants must retain enough rights of co-ownership of the evidence and outcomes to influence the effects of their distribution between different audiences or when an unforeseen aspect of the final audience’s response becomes know.

·        No participant gives or alienates their rights entirely. This should not be seen as a source of bias b ut its existence considered reflexively in the research report.

·        It is possible that this exercise will involve sensitive material and that briefing and debriefing may be complex processes.


4. What would "validity" imply in a project that used this approach?

·       The descriptive and interpretative material is subjected to rigorous control by a theory of interpretation that can be known and communicated to BOTH participants in and readers of the research.

·       The limitations as well as strengths of this approach are considered but that those considerations (within the research) are not seen as final but provisional. It is open to ongoing representations from others that might be negatively or positively critical. This in part represents the integrity of the research process.

·       There is no inappropriate attempt to generalise the knowledge and outcomes acquired in terms of laws or rules of human behaviour, except in fully reflexive reflective discussion. The contextuality of the knowledge, skills and values examined must be reflected.

·       There is some basis of trust in the observations, given by the evidence and how it is handled and manipulated in the research report conclusions.


5. What are some of the practical or ethical issues that would need to be considered?

·       The ability to circumscribe the social events and scenarios that are studied such that they are not distorted in a way that predetermines the analysis but yet is manageably small enough to be fruitfully studied in the limited time, space and other resources available. This must involve the ability to reflexively describe these strategies.

·       Researchers or their theories must be open to query. This can cause difficulties in finding sponsorship or resource funding for a project. It will also have consquences that may affect the reputation and security of the researcher.

·       The method relies on a degree of openness to crossing boundaries that, in certain circumstances, may have unforeseen consequences.

·       Research funders also may not finance overtly open-ended research, requiring from it a usable product that can sometimes (especially in the research of educational institutions) be both monetised and turned to the benefit of a single source, rather than to education as a whole.

·       A high degree of participation in the tasks is required from participants. It should be allied then to meeting genuine learning outcomes of their own in the courses they are studying and this should be reflected in the debriefing that occurs.

6. And finally, find and reference at least two published articles that have used this approach (aside from the examples given in this course). Make some notes about how the approach is described and used in each paper, linking to your reflections above.

  • This section includes 2 research articles first.

Bailey, N.M. & Van Harken, E.M (2014) ‘Visual Images as Tools of Teacher Inquiry’ in Journal of Teacher Education 65 (3) 241-260 DOI: 10.1177/0022487113519130


The aim of this paper is to utilise ‘mutimodality as a research methodology for teacher inquiry (244).’ There is an element of action research involved in that the participants demonstrate assessed predictive levels of ‘growth’ in their understanding of qualitative methodologies in research on their  role as teachers as a result of the use of visual or hybrid multimodal material. However the methods were primarily underpinned by participant observation (244) but were focused on documentary evidence collection and analysis (collecting emails, field notes, 3 assignments per learner), interviews which were coded as typed documents. Analysis used a version of grounded theory from Glaser (1992 & Cresswell (1995) cited 245.

Moss, J. & Hay, T. (2014) ‘Keeping connected: a review of the research relationship’ in International Journal of Inclusive Education 18:3, 295-311, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2012.689017 To link to this article:

The aim of this paper is to examine ‘multimodal’ accounts’, supported by interviews and underpinned by participant observation that identifies itself as an ethnomethodology hybrid with individual case study’ (298). There is an element of action research involved in that the participants’ accounts form libraries of materials for use in educating youth workers using pre-authorised and ethically checked accounts. It aims to use accounts created by young people with an acquired disability as the data for understanding the means by which this ‘group’ of young people construct their lives when co-constructing them in a relationship of trust. The paper admits to a degree of methodological naivety that is justified by the project’s importance and the salience of silence on issues of subjectivity in this area. The degree of rigour and integrity in this area is a mark of high reflexivity and will stimulate future more precisely formulated research.

One area that is unmissable in this area is that there is a great deal of theory which is not as yet well applied to practical research. However theorisation at a deep level is intrinsic to multimodal practice. As an example, note (the OU does not have access to a copy but only an Abstract) the use of feminist and postmodern theory together with multimodality in:

The study was based on a 3 year long examination of a teacher education course. It used multimodal presentations (graphic novel and role-play) as well as live commentary on the same to see how revisions of the multimodal material illustrated the value of a theoretical grasp of feminist theories of embodiment and the meaning of place and ‘space’.

Another feature of the publications in a new arena like this are reflective analyses of ation research of a semi-formal kind. Herein practitioners reflect reflexively on their introduction of innovations. The following uses multimodal methods from art history to classroom work in the sciences:

Yenawine, P. & Miller, A. (2014) ‘Visual Thinking, Images & Learning in College’ in About Campus (sept-Oct 2014) American College Personnel Association & Wiley Periodicals, DOI: 10.1002/abc.21162 

Companions from Steve's blog:

Permalink Add your comment