"TRACER" Research: Photo and Time Allocation Survey


We are tracing the effects of faculty development programs – such as the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) – into student learning at Carleton College. Because students learn outside of the classroom, as well as inside, we are gathering data on student life to augment our other research methods (e.g. interviews with faculty members, workshop observations, and portfolio analysis). We want to learn how some students study, with whom they study, where they study and a general sense of what they do during a day which might impact their learning. Ultimately, we hope to create a picture of how student learning is influenced by the larger context of life at Carleton.

Photo Surveys and Interviews

We are recruiting a group of students to participate in "photo survey" interviews (Briden 2007: 40). In the span of a day, students will take pictures with digital cameras, following a list of suggested photos, every hour, if possible. When they are finished and have sent the researcher their photos, the researcher will interview them about the photos they took (45 minute interview). The researcher will ask them about the topics of the photos and why and how they chose those photos to describe elements of their daily life related to studying.

Risks and Benefits

Participation in this study is completely voluntary and students are asked to sign a consent-to-participate form, which will tell them the possible risks and benefits to participation. Possible benefits include participating in a study that will inform an understanding of student learning at Carleton College. This, in turn, will inform the creation of even more effective faculty development training and teaching at Carleton College.

There are no serious risks to participation. Student names will remain confidential and we will disassociate all identifying information from interview material that may be quoted in future publications. Students' photos will not be used in future publications unless all identifiable individuals have given informed consent for this purpose. All materials collected in the study will be kept in secure electronic storage and/or a locked cabinet. Only the SERC evaluation team will have access to these materials (Ellen Iverson and Gudrun Willett).