Using Visual Action Methods in the Research Process

Common Ground
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2011, 5 (10), pp. 371 - 385
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Human-centred, participatory and co-design approaches to designing often involve working in collaborative, interdisciplinary contexts. In such situations promoting collegial open environments and methods of engagement to bring forward and capture the ideas, opinions and perspectives of the participants for discussion is paramount. Visual action methods provide appropriate ways of promoting such environments, eliciting information, promoting discussion and facilitating consensus within group situations. These methods provide ways for gaining deeper understandings of the research situation that are appropriate to practice and research. Visual action research requires the design and development of tools and models of engagement that are suitable for capturing the voice of the stakeholders as both qualitative and quantitative information in the form of generative dialogues and visual artifacts. The co-creation of these rich pictures allows for disparate interdisciplinary groups to develop shared understandings. The picture holds the context and highlights the issues for discussion and development. This paper discusses participatory and co-design approaches as appropriate methods for developing design briefs for learning environments in higher education. These methods of research and design engagement are being used for the purpose of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Priority Project â A protocol for developing curriculum-led human-centred next generation learning environments in higher education. The study is drawing together theories and research from social design, appreciative enquiry, positive psychology, cultural theory to inform participatory design processes and bespoke tools that scaffold stakeholders in these engagements. The processes and bespoke tools endeavor to address the complex relations of people, âthingsâ, learning and space
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