Problem topology: using cartography to explore problem solving in student-led group projects.

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    This article originated from personal reflection on the nature of projects and the use of project-based learning in media practice education. Accepting that problems are the motor for projects, it asks questions about how students conceptualize problems and seeks to understand the strategies they employ to manage problem encounters. Problem solving is integral to media practice, is a key employability skill, and has a direct relationship with creativity in its myriad forms. The difficulty for educators is that student problem-solving is largely hidden from view. Students are not necessarily observed throughout all of their project work, while tutorials are only partial encounters with their work processes. With this in mind, the author set out to design a research methodology which would uncover the hidden process of problem solving; one that would ‘make the invisible, visible’ and explore students’ problem-solving strategies at a conceptual level. Adopting a visual research methodology (VRM), the researcher experimented with mapmaking as a means of representing problems students had encountered through the employment of cartographic metaphors. The article takes the opportunity to present interim findings that have emerged from the adoption of this cartographic VRM and aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the research design.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411-432
    JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2018


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