Perspectives of High School Photography Teachers Regarding Visual Literacy

Perspectives of High School Photography Teachers Regarding Visual Literacy by Kristi Oliver

This qualitative study investigated the perspectives of high school photography teachers regarding visual literacy. A qualitative methodology that used a phenomenographic research design was employed to gain understanding about the perspectives of high school photography teachers in their conceptualization, perceptions, and experiences surrounding visual literacy. A survey/ questionnaire was used to explore participants’ paths towards becoming a high school photography teacher, the amount of years they have been teaching, and their geographic location. Participants perception of school demographics such as school size, community contexts, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity were also collected. Additional prompts were designed to investigate curricular influences, pressing concerns, and pedagogical considerations regarding the various aspects of visual literacy. 100 survey/ questionnaire responses were collected along with five semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed through constant comparison and in vivo coding was used to construct categories of description. The categories of description were further organized into three main themes: Curricular Influences, Pedagogical Considerations and Creative Applications. Data were then sorted into structural and referential aspects of experience to provide an overview of the outcome space. The structural aspects are described as teachers’ influential experiences and the referential described as the teaching of visual literacy. The results of this study were organized into five major discussion points: 1.) Participants’ lived experiences directly impact their teaching of visual literacy, 2.) Curriculum standards have limited impact on the teaching of visual literacy, 3.) Participants employ dialogue-based strategies when teaching visual literacy, 4.) Both analyzing and creating images are important aspects of visual literacy, 5.) Visual literacy addresses the needs of high school photography students.