The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Visual Methods As a Social Work Research and Intervention Methodology

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Executive Center 3B (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Mimi V. Chapman, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, William J. Hall, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shiyou Wu, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Jennifer E. Swanberg, PhD, University of Kentucky
This workshop will introduce social work intervention researchers to visual images as research and intervention tools.  Visual research methods provide an innovative means for exploring phenomena about which little is known or that have been resistant to change.   Using a series of projects that use visual methods either as data collection mechanisms or as part of an intervention, this workshop will assist social work scholars seeking to understand and confront emerging social issues in creative yet rigorous ways.  The workshop will contain a mixture of didactic and interactive group activities, software demonstrations, and a case study of a work-in-progress in order to demonstrate how visual methods have been used in research and intervention.  The case study will take participants through the specific steps needed to develop a research project grounded in visual methods.

The workshop will begin with a didactic presentation of the concepts and theory behind the use of visual methods in research and intervention.  We will focus on differences in using visual images as projective or elicitation devices, the role of schema theory in considering the power of images, and approaches that use visual images as data such as but not limited to PhotoVoice.  Coding photographs generated by participants using both researcher and client-derived codes will be demonstrated using the qualitative software Atlas TI.  Presenters will discuss the advantages of incorporating visual methods with other, more conventional research and intervention methods.  A series of completed projects using visual images both as intervention and as data will be presented to provide specific examples. These include two PhotoVoice projects; a third project in which researchers independently coded photographs made by research participants for themes not raised in conversation with participants; and an intervention project in which visual images were a central part of an intervention to change middle school teacher attitudes and behavior.   

Finally, participants will apply information learned in the workshop to a case study in which a researcher is planning to use visual methods to engage Latino immigrant workers in documenting and describing their work on thoroughbred horse farms, including both positive and potentially dangerous aspects of their work. Through the case study, participants will consider issues to be addressed when determining the feasibility of using visual methods and present ethical issues related to visual methods.  Specifically, we will focus on confidentiality when data is collected through photographs and published in print or on-line journals; informed consent as regards vulnerable populations; and logistical considerations.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own projects using visual methods for discussion by the group.  At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will understand the theories related to the use of visual methods in research and intervention, possibilities for the ways in which visual methods and images can be incorporated into research and intervention development, and the ethical and logistical realities of using visual methods.

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