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The use of Volunteer Employed Photography within undergraduate assessment: An international field trip perspective

Snell, Sarah



Volunteer Employed Photography (VEP) has been used within tourism studies to better understand destinations and the way residents and visitors interpret and experience them. Seen as an innovative research method, VEP encourages participants to engage with the destination through self-selected photographs and reflection. Known for its ability to enhance observational skills, VEP has the potential to be used as a method of assessment, enhancing the academic curriculum, and developing students’ understanding of subject related phenomena.
Drawing on participant observation, a post visit focus group, and analysis of students’ work, this study investigates the benefits associated with, and the utility of, VEP as an assessment tool for undergraduate students on an international field trip. The method allowed students to research tourism and event phenomena through the use of VEP with a tourism lens, and a subsequent narrative analysis.
While abroad students took photographs which link to their experiences, and their understanding of subject specific academic discussions such as: tourism impacts, destination image, and visitor attraction management. Upon their return, they worked to select, analyse, and reflect, on images which illustrated their experiences and the academic concepts they had observed for their submissions.
At first, some students were apprehensive about the task and this necessitated additional guidance and reassurance, however, with support, they embraced and enjoyed the alternative method of assessment. Whilst their approached was not always strictly VEP, the use of photography aided in their understanding, and subsequent interpretation, of the destination and observed phenomenon related to their field.
The research demonstrates how VEP as an assessment method benefited the students through enhanced observational skills, an deeper understanding of their subject, and an exposure to innovative research methods. The technique further enabled students to meet the learning outcomes of the module and assisted in providing an enhanced student experience.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Visual Methods & Ethnography in Interdisciplinary Research Symposium
Start Date Jun 1, 2022
End Date Jun 1, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2022
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