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Abstract

PhotoVoice was used to visually understand students’perspectives of and reveal students’ motivations for participating in a domestic study away. A domestic study away is a high-impact learning experience within the United States that exposes students to unfamiliar places and cultures. The high-impact experience course used as the context of this study was developed and designed using reflection and PhotoVoice, a research method that connects participants with their environment through photographs of moments or events capturing their attention. On a 10-day, study-away field experience, 45 students enrolled at Texas A&M University captured photos of places, events, and objects that held meaning and significance to them. Students each submitted 10 photos they believed best represented their study-away experience. The photos were accompanied with student-generated captions depicting the students’ meaning of the photo. The PhotoVoice analysis identified five major themes—product, process, people, place, and point in time—with an over-arching theme of connection. Connection is a driving factor for students to participate in a study away. Developing a study away around connection could enable instructors to recruit students and keep them interested and engaged throughout the experience. PhotoVoice offered students a chance to understand themselves and use photographs to reflect on their experiences.

Keywords: connection, high-impact experience, PhotoVoice

 

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