Teaching Matters

Making a difference through Photovoice

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


Making a difference through Photovoice


Susanne Becker, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre


Making a Difference for Students

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 213




This paper presents the method and outcomes of a ‘photovoice project’, designed as an assessment task in CAD306 Advanced Topics of Dementia Care, a third-year unit in the Bachelor of Dementia Care. Photovoice is a method where members of a community take photographs to record and reflect on an area of interest for that community, and which is then used to promote critical dialogue (Wang & Burris 1997). The effect of this collaborative learning process can include personal or community level action and/or change.

During this project, fifty-five, third-year students functioned as members of a learning community and completed the Photovoice Project as an assessment task in the unit (weighted 40%). Students were required to take a photo that captured their perception of a challenge experienced by a person living with dementia who is from a seldom-heard group (for example, a person with dementia who is from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, is homeless, or lives in a rural and remote area). Students then wrote an accompanying narrative, detailing the meaning of their photo in relation to the topic, and posted both the photo and narrative on the group discussion board. Students were required to provide feedback on five of their peer’s posts, to extend their own, and each other’s understanding on the topic area. A critical reflection on their learning journey completed the assignment. The assessment task extended over an eight-week period in Semester 1, 2017.

The impact on learning was significant. Outcomes from this assessment task included students voicing a greater appreciation of the utility of discussion boards as a learning tool; increased collaboration between peers; greater appreciation of shared learning – via discussion board interaction; enthusiasm for, and extended understanding of the assessment topic area; and deeper learning from significant engagement with the task, peers and unit content. Student feedback demonstrated that this assessment task made a genuine difference to their learning. Evidence of effectiveness included peer feedback, lecturer-solicited feedback as well as unsolicited emails to the lecturer, and qualitative comments on the Unit eVALUate survey. Student comments demonstrated appreciation of the value and power of the photovoice method as a learning tool, discussion board interaction that led to new insights and understanding, and the opportunity for creative expression. The formative nature of the assignment allowed this new understanding to inform more in-depth evaluation of their learning, leading to nuanced reflection on their learning journey. Students also initiated compiling photos and narratives into a coffee-table book to celebrate their achievements through this assignment.

This session will be of interest to Course and Unit Coordinators wanting to hear the outcomes of a divergent assessment task that met intended learning outcomes. The task also revealed unintended learning outcomes which on reflection, demonstrated to staff and students the value of collaborative learning to create a rich learning experience that genuinely met course outcomes and graduate attributes.


Wang, C. & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behaviour, 24, 369-387. doi: 10.1177/109019819702400309

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