Drawing on drawings: Moving beyond text in health professions education research

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A Qualitative Space highlights research approaches that push readers and scholars deeper into qualitative methods and methodologies. Contributors to A Qualitative Space may: advance new ideas about qualitative methodologies, methods, and/or techniques; debate current and historical trends in qualitative research; craft and share nuanced reflections on how data collection methods should be revised or modified; reflect on the epistemological bases of qualitative research; or argue that some qualitative practices should end. Share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag: #aqualspace In this edition of Perspectives on Medical Education, Kahlke & Eva employ visual elicitation to explore health educators’ understandings of critical thinking [1]. They first interviewed 16 educators about their conceptions of critical thinking in order to generate a researcher-produced mind map, which they then presented to study participants in their second interviews to encourage further elaboration on their understandings. While they argue that the mind map helped participants to provide sincere and unrehearsed responses, respond to others’ conceptualizations of critical thinking, and act as a member check, they acknowledge that their primary data were the interviews not the visual data. This privileging of talk and text over the visual is typical within social sciences research [2, 3, 4, 5]. Therefore, this ‘A Qualitative Space’ article serves to move beyond text to better foreground the visual in health professions education research (HPER). This article begins with a summary of visual methods, key philosophical issues, and important strengths and challenges. I then consider the use of visual methods in HPER, focusing specifically on drawings rather than videos as videos have been discussed recently elsewhere [6]. While drawings have received little attention in HPER, they are becoming increasingly employed [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. I therefore showcase illustrative examples of HPER drawing on drawings: pre-existing, participant-produced and researcher-produced drawings in order to raise awareness of their potential for future HPER.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives on Medical Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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