June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.235.1 - 26.235.10
Artifact Elicitation as a Method of Qualitative Inquiry in Engineering EducationMany qualitative research studies in engineering education use semi-structured interviews as anapproach to inquiry. However, traditional semi-structured interviews do not always enableparticipants to answer questions in deep and meaningful ways. Recent research in engineeringeducation has successfully drawn upon the inquiry method of photo elicitation, which usesphotographs as interview prompts (Harper 2002) to elicit “thick description” (Geertz 1973) fromparticipants. Interviews that rely on photos “evoke information, feelings, and memories that aredue to the photographer’s particular form of representation” and stimulate “latent memory,reducing areas of misunderstanding, eliciting longer and more comprehensive accounts ofideas… eliciting values and beliefs, and connecting to core definitions of the self to society,culture, and history” (Harper 2002). Some studies have extended the methodology of photoelicitation to artifact elicitation, in which research participants are asked questions about artifacts(physical, virtual, etc.) that they have previously created. Artifacts are similar to photos in thatthey embody the knowledge, skills, and attitudes held by the artifact creators. Several studies inparticular have used artifact elicitation to study the ethos of the Maker community (AUTHORS)and evaluate learning through elicitation around course assignments (AUTHORS).In this paper, we will survey current studies in engineering education, science, and math that usephoto or artifact elicitation as a research or pedagogical method. We will critically compare theseapproaches, identifying the advantages and disadvantages of the variants and providing bestpractices for their use in engineering education research.
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