Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 93

Re-visioning Bulletin Boards
Bulletin boards represent an indirect form of education,
but they can also serve as an interactive tool for residential learners.
contain the student voice but limits the possibilities of student expression and forecloses
discussion (Young & Jerome, 2020). Conventional methods also construct the
student voice in a way that restricts its possibilities for full expression (Carr, 2009) and
falsely presume that the research process can capture an authentic representation of
experience (Mazzei, 2016). Also, students may lack fluency in the language of policy,
rendering them unable to express themselves even when they are purportedly invited
to speak (Higgins, 2016; Shankar, 2016).
Meanwhile, assessment of student learning is frequently limited to indirect forms
when students are only able to provide a perception of their learning but do not demonstrate
new skills or knowledge (Henning & Roberts, 2016). Indirect methods are less
effective than direct methods due to their reliance on perception and their focus on
measures " tangentially related to the learning " (Henning & Roberts, 2016, p. 68).
There is no way to validate a student's perception, and evaluators must make assumptions
about how to interpret indirect reports. Furthermore, surveys typically reflect
this conventional assessment approach by using a Likert scale to assign numbers to
a " logical sequence of words " (Henning & Roberts, 2016, p. 67). Thus, the dynamic
and personal experience of learning becomes measured by an exercise of counting,
even when qualitative methods are used (St. Pierre, 2011). Drawing conclusions from
these numerical, perception-based questions involves several assumptions on the part
of both the surveyor and surveyed.
Our study explores how arts-based methodologies can be used in student affairs
and higher education research to expand possibilities for practitioners to understand
what students want to voice and to assess student learning directly. Bulletin boards are
a ripe subject because they are used in residence halls all over the country and are a
common tool for residence life departments. Bulletin boards require labor to conceptualize
and construct, but they have the potential to engage students in meaningful
learning experiences. We worked with four student-participants at The University of
Texas at Austin, a large, predominately White institution, to set up a photovoice project
(Wang & Burris, 1994, 1997) in tandem with the school's residential curriculum.
Photovoice is " a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their
community through a specific photographic technique " (Wang & Burris, 1997, p. 369).
Through its participatory design, photovoice amplifies the lived experiences of marginalized
people, the relations between people in shared spaces, and the community
as a whole (Latz, 2017, p. 36). Photovoice accesses " subjugated knowledge " (Ingrey,
2013, p. 174), highlighting experiences otherwise ignored by standard research practices.
Through interfacing with policymakers, participants express " voices that ordinarily
would not be heard and broadcast them into the halls of decision-making power "
(Wang & Burris, 1994, p. 182). Given the challenges of representing student experience
using conventional methods, we utilized a qualitative, participatory methodology
to generate rich, multimodal data and provide students an opportunity to leverage
agency in constructing their voice.
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Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2

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