Using my own practice as a researcher, this case seeks to demonstrate how the use of participatory arts–based methods is not just a way to collect data or answer predefined thesis questions, but can actually shape research questions and theses in ways one may not have initially considered. Initially, my PhD research focused primarily on the teacher-training program at one of the larger universities in Saudi Arabia, and the use of participatory visual arts–based activities helped in investigating and identifying learner experiences not easily put into words. As a result of this action-oriented practice, my research broadened from a conventional investigation toward a more intuitive and sociological-relevant study, and I found that arts-based participatory activities allowed participants to access different parts of consciousness. After reviewing different research methods, I chose to use participatory methods (specifically, image-based tasks given to participants) as a particularly democratic approach to research, one that views participants as direct agents, not objects. This inclusivity enables greater depth of participant involvement in the research process. Further to this, my study considers how these participatory methods connect people and may facilitate an empathy which can lead to more profound connections, despite individual differences.
Beyond the Structure of Research: Image and Intuition