New Designs for Participatory Research: Modified Photoethnography and the Personal Resource Systems Management (PRSM) Model

Cindy Beacham, Barbara McFall


Learning environments significantly influence student behaviors, academic success, school attendance and participation, all of which are problematic today. Less than half of high school students surveyed in 2005 would select the same high school again if given the opportunity, and only 38% agreed that the support they get at school encourages them to learn more. Pursuing increased educational effectiveness, this paper discusses a study that gathered and evaluated middle and high school students’ concepts of ideal student-centered learning environments in selected classrooms. This multi-method, participatory approach put cameras in student hands and ask them to photograph elements desired in their ideal classroom, “things that help you learn.” Interviews were conducted to explore the meaning behind each photo. Analysis was performed using the Personal Resource Systems Model (PRSM). Findings clearly indicate existing physical and emotional needs, left un-addressed by No Child Left Behind, that might be met by improving the material and social classroom environment.

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