Student Perceptions of Learning, as seen through a camera lens

Ian Guest


Learning has been studied from both theoretical and practical standpoints over many years, though almost invariably from the adult perspective. This study explores learning as perceived by teenage secondary school students, who used cameras to capture images to tell the story of their learning. This was approached through a qualitative, constructivist grounded theory methodology and drew on data from different levels within the study. Using the images as a starting point, interviews provided responses which were analysed to draw out a substantive theory. The young people in this study described their learning by ‘Linking it’ with other concepts, ‘Locating it’ space and time (predominantly in school), ‘Associating it’ with other activities, ‘Ascribing worth’ to different aspects and just occasionally ‘Thinking about it’ in abstract terms. The findings from this study should be extended to explore more purposefully the disconnect between the examples of formal learning providing most of the data for this study and the more rounded experience students enjoy across their daily experience.


Learning; perception; grounded theory; photo-elicitation


Barker, J. and Weller, S., (2003). “Is it fun?” developing children centred research methods. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 23, 33–58.

Charmaz, K., (1995). Grounded Theory. In R. Harré & L. Langenhove, eds. Rethinking methods in psychology. London: Sage, 27-65.

Charmaz, K., (2000). Grounded Theory: Objectivist and Constructivist Methods. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln, eds. Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 509-535.

Charmaz, K., (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis 1st ed., Sage Publications Ltd.

Clark, A, Mcqail, S. and Moss, P., (2003). Exploring the Fields of Listening to and Consulting with Young Children (Study No. 445). Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, London.

Cobb, J., (2009). Definition of Learning. Mission to Learn. [online]. Last accessed 5 Nov 2011 at:

Glaser, B. G., and Strauss, A., (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine Transaction.

Hallberg, Lillemor, R.M., (2006). The “core category” of grounded theory: Making constant comparisons. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 1(3), 141-148.

Lecompte, M. D., Millroy, W.L. and Preissle, J., (1992). The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education. Academic Press.

Mccann, T.V. and Clark, E., (2003). Grounded theory in nursing research: Part 3--Application. Nurse Researcher, 11 (2), 29-39.

Meighan, R., (1977). The Pupil as Client: The Learner’s Experience of Schooling. Educational Review 29, 123

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN (online) 2049-7385
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.