Understanding the Photovoice Method's Impact on Student Perceptions of Geography
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As the number of undergraduate degrees awarded in Geography has recently declined, I wondered: What can be done to change perceptions of geography in order to increase the probability of a student taking a geography course at the postsecondary level? To answer this question, I created a research study to measure the impact of two interventions on student perceptions of geography: a Photovoice project and a “Fishbowl” style class discussion. Photovoice is a form of participatory action research that provides an opportunity for participants to create, share, and exhibit their experiences and viewpoints through photography and narrative storytelling. Fishbowl discussions are student-led and give students the opportunity to collaboratively discuss societal issues to develop new insights, perspectives, and ways of understanding. Students took pre and post surveys that produced quantitative and qualitative data regarding their perceptions of geography and the probability of taking a geography course at the postsecondary level. My hypothesis is that the Photovoice method will increase student perceptions of geography and increase the probability students will take a geography course at the postsecondary level. Results from the study indicate that the Fishbowl discussion led to a statistically significant increase in mean scores for four out of five questions, including probability of taking a geography course at the postsecondary level. The Photovoice project led to a statistically significant increase in student perceptions of the usefulness of geography in solving problems in the community.