Being that I worked in the only group of three people, I did not get a chance to actively play the researcher role. However, I still saw what the researchers experienced, and I experienced what it is like to be the participant of a photo-elicitation interview. Firstly, I think the choices that we were limited to choosing (for performing our interview) did not give opportunity for participants, or researchers for that matter, to be creative. I found the experimenter’s questions were very basic and that I could not think of better ideas myself. There is a limit to what can be asked and said about the quality of dining on Queen College Campus. Both myself and the other participant of that round did not spend time in the Queens College cafeterias and therefore our answers were basic and limited. Perhaps the second option, necessary improvements on Queens College Campus allowed for more individual ideas and creativity. Also, the fact that the entire class was working with the same topics also prevented creativity. When my group entered the main dining area of Queens College, we basically saw our entire class there too, trying to take pictures of the few ideas possible. As a participant it was hard to come up with a unique idea about the quality of dining, and I saw that the researcher had a similar problem; it was hard to ask creative questions.
I did see how researchers can try to push participants to elicit a specific response. From the way the questions were phrased about the dining quality on campus, I was able to tell that the researcher was assuming our responses would be negative. While the assignment was aimed to discuss the quality, our group focused on all the needed improvements of the quality of dining. Perhaps this was because the researcher’s questions were “what would we improve,” or “what kinds of food options would we add.” These two questions clearly focus on the negative or missing aspects of QC dining, and perhaps this is why our responses, and our discussions, were about what we would improve about the dining in Queens College. I learned that by phrasing questions in a certain way, the researcher has the ability to influence the participants’ response, especially with open ended questions.
On the other hand, I did learn a lot from this experience. Not only did I learn a lot about the research/participant process, I learned from my group members about needed changes around Queens College that I never noticed. When asked by the researcher what I would improve about Queens College, I was pushed to notice things to change that I never thought about before. As a participant, I had to open my eyes to the problems that surround me. For example, the picture I posted was taken in one of the womens bathrooms on campus. The hygiene of this bathroom is disgusting to say the least. My researcher seemed satisfied and agreed with my point. When the researcher asked us what we would change about the dining quality, my fellow participant made a great point. He pointed out that all the soda/drink machines are Coca-Cola owed, and that Coke has cruel labor laws in South America. I learned about a sociological problem that I did not previous know. Just as I, as the participant, had to open my eyes and notice things in order to answer the questions, so too the researcher needed to notice things in order to ask and formulate the questions.
Overall I found this interactive experience very fun and rewarding.