Model making as a research method

Julie Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The central theme of this paper is about providing opportunities for the participants to discuss sensitive issues in a safe environment with the researcher and group, actively listening and making meaning from their creative efforts. It introduces a creative research method used to provide a medium for adults to discuss a sensitive issue. The participants took part in focus groups and also created craft-based models as a means to share their thoughts and feelings. Creating and describing the model provided a safe distance and took pressure off the creators, it also led to rich, deep data as participants were able to share thoughts and emotions without reticence. The sensitive issue used as an example in this paper was mental health as it affected teaching and learning. The whole process of making the model and the subsequent discussion was recorded. The conversation during the creative process and the reaction of the group to the model were also considered as data and the researcher drew all this together into a narrative which encapsulated the process. Meaning making in such a constructed way can be subject to bias but a reflexive approach and being an outsider researcher for all focus groups reduced these limitations. This approach to data handling added depth and made the creative process accessible whilst unpicking metaphors and making explicit links to relevant theory. Analysis of the narratives provided themes related to the thoughts and feelings of the participants about how mental health impacts on teaching and learning. The teacher trainees all considered the stigma still associated with this sensitive topic and commented on the barrier to learning that this could present. The group all acknowledged a lack of awareness and training to deal with this particular barrier and sought awareness raising that was targeted to teacher trainees and the needs of adult learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-48
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in the Education of Adults
Issue number1
Early online date14 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020


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