Photos as Mirrors in Sport

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. M., Ogilvie, M. , Ryan, M. M., Mizerski, K. , Maccarthy, M. J., & Cripps, H. D. Photos as mirrors in sport. Paper presented at the ECRM 2011: 10th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies. Caen, France. Original article available here


Third year Business students were required to evaluate their experiential consumption of a sporting activity using Holt’s taxonomy. The aim of this paper is to explore the benefits derived from using photos as a mirror; firstly to capture the data and provide validity to the activity; and, secondly as a tool to encourage reflective learning. The literature addresses issues and examples focusing on visual methods as a means of data capture in qualitative research. In addition, educationalists have explored flexible delivery and assessment methods incorporating visual mediums as a tool to enhance the learning experience. This paper explores the synergies obtained by combining both the visual data capture mechanism and the synthesis of theory into practice, and producing the respondent’s (student’s) own introspection artefact. This paper presents findings from the reflections of 54 students (local and international) and discusses how the use of photography is used in a learning context. Some students found the task technologically challenging, time consuming and a few didn’t engage with the medium. Overall however, the results indicated that the use of pictures significantly enhanced student learning outcomes. A consistent message from the student reflections was their need to understand the concepts of the project before selecting their photos. In this instance, the photos became the words to describe the concepts of Holt’s taxonomy. Being able to choose their own photographs enabled students to be empowered by the ability to construct the parameters within which they displayed their understanding of the concept and were subsequently assessed. In this activity students learn through applying the theory to themselves rather than simply rote learning. By using the visual communication vehicle to complete the assignment it was evident that students needed to have a thorough understanding of the concepts so that they can communicate them back in a manner where they synthesise, conceptualise and apply the concepts. This demonstrates true deep learning practices. Models are difficult to teach and to assess student’s understanding. This case study is an example of where theory and practise come together in an engaging experience for students, making the learning process more memorable and consequently more effective.

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