CALICO Journal, Vol 32, No 3 (2015)

Reflexive photography, attitudes, behavior, and CALL: ITAs improving spoken English intelligibility

Lara Wallace
Issued Date: 10 Sep 2015


Research in the field of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has frequently taken a top-down approach when investigating learners’ attitudes and behavior, often in the form of surveys, case studies, usage tracking, and experiments (Levy & Stockwell, 2006; Beatty, 2010). One perspective that has not been examined in CALL is Reflexive Photography, a method that lends itself to rigorous and focused analysis and can illuminate the participants’ experiences and perceptions in a way that the above methods cannot. In reflexive photography, participants are asked to photograph their experience of the phenomenon in question. These photographs serve as the basis for the discussion with the researcher that follows, and help to define the scope of the particular phenomenon. Together, the participants and the researcher co-produce the information regarding the phenomenon (Jenkings, Woodward & Winter, 2008). Reflexive photography has been used to explore issues of identity and experience in other fields, although in CALL, it has been underutilized. The present study identified current uses of technology among International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) taking a course to improve their spoken English intelligibility. Midway through the term, learners photographed what they deemed to be helpful and what they felt obstructed the improvement of their oral English production. They then shared seven to ten photographs in a focus group of peers. At the end of the term, the researcher interviewed the learners regarding these experiences. The photos and the interviews were coded and the researcher examined the emergent findings, using observations and electronic communication from throughout the term to triangulate and support the data. The findings revealed valuable insights through the eyes of the learners regarding what technology the learners found to be helpful and/or obstructive, both in the course as well as for their personal use, and suggestions for improvements in use of technology are given. Finally, future research directions in CALL using reflexive photography are discussed.

Download Media

PDF Subscribers Only

DOI: 10.1558/cj.v32i3.26384


Aho, J. A. (1998). The Things of the World: A Social Phenomenology. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Amerson, R. & Livingston, W. (2014). Reflexive photography: An alternative method for documenting the learning process of cultural competence. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 25 (2), 202–210.

Anderson-Hsieh, J. (1992). Using electronic visual feedback to teach suprasegmentals. System, 20 (1), 51–62.

Anderson-Hsieh, J. and Dauer, R. (1997, March 14). Slowed-down speech: A teaching tool for listening/pronunciation. Retrieved from

Beatty, K. (2003). Teaching and Researching Computer-assisted Language Learning. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Cahvanto, I., Pennington-Gray, L., & Thapa, B. (2013). Tourist-resident interfaces: Using reflexive photography to develop responsible rural tourism in Indonesia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 21 (5), 732–749.

Capraro, F. P. (2002). A journal study of the spoken English learning experience of prospective international teaching assistants [Abstract]. Retrieved from Ohio LINK ETD (osu1016061356)

Collier, J. Jr. & Collier, M. (1986). Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method – Revised and Expanded Edition. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Crumely, H. (2006). Instructional technology in international teaching assistant training. Retrieved from

Crumley, H. (2010). Instructional technology in international teaching assistant (ITA) programs. CALICO Journal, 27 (2), 409–431. Retrieved from

Davies, C. E., Tyler, A., and Koran, J. J. (2002). Face-to-face with English speakers: An advanced training class for international teaching assistants [Abstract]. Retrieved from

Dick, R.C., and Robinson, B.M. (1994). Oral English proficiency requirements for ITAs in U.S. colleges and universities: An issue in speech communication. JACA, 2, 77-86. Retrieved from

Douglas, K. (1998). Seeing as well as hearing: Responses to the use of an alternative form of data representation in a study of students’ environmental perceptions. ASHE Annual Meeting Paper. Retrieved from

Goodhart, F., Hsu, J., Baek, J.H., Coleman, A.L., Maresca, F.M., & Miller, M.B. (2006). View through a different lens: Photovoice as a tool for student advocacy. Journal of American College Health, 55 (1), 53–56.

Gorsuch, G. (2008). Adults becoming bilinguals and becoming teachers: Pushing outside the comfort zone. In P. Dheram (Ed.) Negotiating Empowerment: Studies in English language education, 159–174. New Delhi, India: Orient Longman Publishers.

Gorsuch, G. (2011). Exporting English pronunciation from China: The communication needs of young Chinese scientists as teachers in higher education abroad. Forum on Public Policy Online. Retrieved from

Gorsuch, G. (2012). ITAs’ experiences in educational cultures and their teaching beliefs. TESL-EJ, 16 (1), 1–26. Retrieved from

Graham, J. (1992). Bias-free teaching as a topic in a course for international teaching assistants. TESOL Quarterly, 26 (3), 585–589. Retrieved from

Graziano, K. (2011). Working with English language learners: Preservice teachers and photovoice. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 13 (1), 1–19. Available from Education Research Complete.

Harper, D. (1986). Meaning and work: A study in photo elicitation. Current Sociology, 34 (3), 24–46.

Harper, D. (1994). On the authority of image: Visual methods at the crossroads. In N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (Eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research, 403–412. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Harrington, C. & Lindy, I. (1998). The use of reflexive photography in the study of the freshman year experience. Retrieved from

Heisley, D.D. & Levy, S.J. (1991). Autodriving: A photoelicitation technique. Journal of Consumer Research, 18, 257–272. Retrieved from Business Source Complete.

Hill, L. (2014). ‘Some of it I haven’t told anybody else’: Using photo elicitation to explore the experiences of secondary school education from the perspective of young people with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Educational and Child Psychology, 31 (1), 79–89. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete.

Hubbard, P. (2013). Making a case for learner training in technology enhanced language learning environments. CALICO Journal, 30 (2), 163–178). Retrieved from

Hurworth, R. (2003). Photo-interviewing for research. Social Research Update, 40. Retrieved from

Isaacs, T. (2008). Towards defining a valid assessment criterion of pronunciation proficiency in non-native English-speaking graduate students. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 64 (4), 555–580. Retrieved from

International Teaching Assistants Program (2011). Retrieved from

Jenkings, K., Woodward, R., & Winter, T. (2008). The emergent production of analysis in photo elicitation: Pictures of military identity. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9 (3), 1–21. Retrieved from

Kessler, G. (2010). Fluency and anxiety in self-access speaking tasks: The influence of environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 23 (4), 361–375.

Kim, S. (2006). Academic oral communication needs of East Asian international graduate students in non-science and non-engineering fields. English for Specific Purposes, 25 (4), 479–489. Available from

Knoblauch, H., Baer, A., Laurier, E., Petschke, S., & Schnettler, B. (2008). Visual analysis: New developments in the interpretive analysis of video and photography. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9 (3). Retrieved from

Lee, W. & Ng, S. (2010). Reducing student reticence through teacher interaction strategy. ELT Journal, 64 (3), 302–313.

Levy, M. & Stockwell, G. (2006). CALL Dimensions: Options and issues in computer-assisted language learning (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Myers, S.A. (1995). Using written text to teach oral skills: An ITA training class using field specific materials [Abstract]. English for Specific Purposes, 14 (3), 231–240. Retrieved from

Nelson, J. (1989). Phenomenology as feminist methodology: Explicating interviews. In K. Carter & C. Spitzack (Eds), Doing Research in Women's Communication: Perspectives on theory and method. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Noor, Z. (2004). Measures of spoken assessment in ESL: A comparison of three measures of assessing the oral proficiency of international teaching assistants at the State University of New York at Buffalo [Abstract]. Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International. (3983-A).

Papajohn, D. (2006). Standard setting for next generation TOEFL Academic Speaking Test (TAST): Reflections on the ETS Panel of International Teaching Assistant Developers [Abstract]. TESL-EJ, 10 (1). np.

Paredes, E. E. (2010). Language learning strategy use by Colombian adult English language learners: A phenomenological study. Retrieved from (Paper 225).

Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rose, G. (2007). Visual Methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Salomone, A. M. (1998). Communicative grammar teaching: A problem for and a message from international students [Abstract]. Foreign Language Annals, 31 (4), 552–568.

Schulze, S. (2007). The Usefulness of Reflexive Photography for Qualitative Research, 536–553. Retrieved from EJ840904

SPEAK Exam Information. (2014). Retrieved from

SPEAK Test. (n.d.). Retrieved from

SPEAK Test. (2014). Retrieved from

Sprague, J., & Stuart, D. (2000). The Speaker’s Handbook (5th ed.). New York: Harcourt College.

Stevens, S. (1989). A ‘dramatic’ approach to improving the intelligibility of ITAs [Abstract]. English for Specific Purposes, 8 (2), 181–194. Retrieved from

Stockall, N. & Davis, S. (2011). Uncovering pre-service teacher beliefs about young children: A photographic elicitation methodology. Issues in Educational Research, 21 (2), 192–209. Retrieved from Education Research Complete.

Thomas, H. & Irwin, J. (2013). Using photovoice with at-risk youth in a community-based cooking program. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 74 (1), 14–20. Retrieved from Food Science Source.

Tsui, A. (1996). Reticence and anxiety in second language learning. In K. Bailey & D. Nunan (Eds), Voices from the Language Classroom: Qualitative research in second language education, 145–167. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching Lived Experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Albany, N Y: State University of New York Press.

Wallace, L. (2014). International Teaching Assistants’ (ITA’) experiences with language learning, learner autonomy, and technology as students in a requisite oral communication course. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

Walter, K.O., Baller, S.L., and Kuntz, A.M. (2012). Two approaches for using web sharing and photography assignments to increase critical thinking in the health sciences. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24 (3), 383–394. Retrieved from

Wang, C. & Burris, M. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education and Behavior, 24 (3), 369–387.

What is the International Teaching Assistant Program. (2014). Retrieved from

Wu, X. (2009). The dynamics of Chinese face mechanisms and classroom behaviour: A case study. Evaluation & Research in Education, 22 (2–4), 87–105.

Xi, X. (2007). Validating TOEFL (RG) iBT speaking and setting score requirements for ITA screening [Abstract]. Language Assessment Quarterly, 4(4), 318-351. Retrieved from

Yule, G. and Hoffman, P. (1993). Enlisting the help of US undergraduates in evaluating international teaching assistants. TESOL Quarterly, 27 (2), 323–327. Retrieved from

Zenkov, K., Ewaida, M., Bell, A., & Lynch, M. (2012). Seeing how to ask first: Photo elicitation motivates English language learners to write. Middle School Journal, 44 (2), 6–13. Retrieved from


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy