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Case Study: Developing a New Method for Analyzing Data from Visual Artwork

By: & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Education
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In 2011, Donna DiBartolomeo and Zachary Clark enrolled in the Arts in Education Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Harvard Graduate School of Education is home to Project Zero, an educational research group comprising multiple, independently funded projects examining creativity, ethics, understanding, and other aspects of learning and its processes. Under the guidance of Principal Investigator Howard Gardner and Project Manager Katie Davis, the authors were tasked with developing a methodology capable of observing fine-grained, objective detail in complete works of visual art. The data that emerged from this process were included in the Developing Minds and Digital Media project, which sought to identify changes in adolescents’ development (specifically, imagination, intimacy, and identity) through a mixed-methodological approach. This article will explore the process of developing a new visual research method, which produced an 18-point coding scheme that observes fundamental attributes of visual artwork without a subjective lens. The objective design of this method allows the coding scheme to be implemented in a variety of contexts, including research projects and practice-based investigations.

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