Participatory Photo Interviews in Evaluation Practice: Possibilities and Limitations of Working with Elaborate Qualitative Methods Using the Example of a Project Evaluation in the Field of Disability

Hemma Mayrhofer, Anna Schachner


In non-university evaluation research, the use of elaborate qualitative methods often proves difficult, as both content-related and structural resources are usually limited. Furthermore, this research context, as a rule, brings with it difficulties in the realization of a flexible and experimental research approach, even if the object of the evaluation would suggest such a method. This article aims at presenting the research strategy and methodology of an evaluation study which examined an offer of assistance based on self-determination for people with mental disabilities and strived for participatory involvement of those concerned. For this purpose, an extended form of the photo-interview method was used, supplemented by participant observation and semi-structured interviews with actors in the relevant social context. In order to enable the comprehensive analysis of the substantial data gained while taking the existing limitations of the evaluation context into account, a specific method of analyzing the photo album created during the photo interview was developed. This method of analysis strives to achieve a balance between an extensive interpretation of the data and a timesaving, results-oriented procedure. The practiced methodological approach has enabled diverse and expressive insights into the field of study, yet the method still remains relatively complex and time-consuming for order-financed evaluation research.



qualitative evaluation research; cognitive disability; participatory photo interview; interpretation of visual data; analysis method photo album


Copyright (c) 2013 Hemma Mayrhofer, Anna Schachner

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