Visual Methodologies: Photo-Elicitation in the University Classroom

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Academic Publishing Limited


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




This article was originally published as: Fanning, S. (2011). Visual Methodologies: Photo-elicitation in the university classroom. Paper presented at the 10th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies, Normandy Business School, Caen, France. Original article available here


Photo-elicitation as a qualitative research technique has attracted considerable attention. It is generally agreed that photo-elicitation is not applicable to all topics, and it is seldom the researcher’s only tool, however, there are substantial benefits when the topic is appropriate and when incorporated with other tools. Although receiving scant attention, photo-elicitation techniques can also be applied within the university classroom. With this lack of attention in mind, this paper will discuss the application of photo-elicitation techniques as a learning tool within university classrooms. Photographs can quickly introduce students to a large amount of visual data and when the photographs are strategically chosen can generate interest, reflection, propagate questions and generate quality classroom discussion. An objective of photo-elicitations within the classroom is to improve not only individual knowledge but also the collective knowledge within the classroom. This paper will outline a marketing lecturer’s experiences of photo-elicitation techniques within the classroom. The paper discusses three broad areas: the justification for photo-elicitation; building photo-elicitation techniques into a teaching plan; and the presentation and analysis of student comments. From a technology perspective, photo-elicitation is now within the reach of most lecturers and students. Moreover, the widespread adoption of enabling technologies outside the classroom has increased the potential value of photo-elicitation as a teaching and learning tool.