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Open Access The unspoken power of collage? Using an innovative arts-based research method to explore the experience of struggling as a teacher

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This article reports on the methodological approach taken in a doctoral study that explores what it means to be struggling as a teacher. Participants were established and experienced teachers and leaders in the secondary school system in England. A particular form of collage – where materials are placed rather than stuck – was used within the context of a research interview. Arts-based methods such as collage are gaining in popularity as they stimulate visual rather than linguistic thinking and offer the opportunity to express experiences as holistic, non-linear metaphors. Collage also has revelatory potential as it helps uncover that which participants cannot necessarily express in words alone. The author presents the analytical challenges of intermingling the verbal and visual data in her study by discussing the collages created by two participants. An analysis of those collages shows that factors influencing struggling can be both internal and external. Struggling was found to be experienced as a temporary fractured state. Struggling was expressed by participants as heightened bodily tensions with a predominantly negative emotional tone; it can also involve a damaged self-view and a reduced sense of controllability, and may lead to impaired performance.

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Keywords: ARTS-BASED; COLLAGE; INTERMINGLING; METAPHORS; VISUAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Founded in 2003 by the UCL Institute of Education, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is a wide-ranging and engaging journal that features rigorous analysis and significant research across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field. The highest quality of reporting and presentation are ensured through an independent, anonymised peer-review process. As an entirely web-based open access journal, LRE has been able to offer innovative features and formats including: epistolary conversation; colour photos and illustrations; illustrative video clips.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to [email protected]

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