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PhotoEdit Student Survey, PDF, and New Collection

August 10, 2009

What Do Students Think of the Photos In Their Textbooks?

Hello out there, you lovely PhotoEdit blog readers. This week, to change things up, there will not be a regular feature post. Instead, I’m going to talk a bit about some research that PhotoEdit recently conducted in order to discover what students think of the images in their textbooks, as well as what we’ve done with that data and how you can access it for free (this should hopefully be useful to all stock agencies and photographers who are interested in marketing their images to textbook publishers). Next week we’ll get back on track with regular features: more photo tax advice, tips for shooting bands, and instructional guides on shooting underwater photos, all coming soon. Have an idea for a blog post you’d like to see, or do you have a blog you’d like to contribute for full credit? Get in touch with me!

Hispanic JH girl reads barometer while her three Hispanic female classmates conduct chemistry experiment in classroom, Los Angeles, CA

In spring and early summer 2009, PhotoEdit interviewed close to 300 students at a local high school to find out what opinions they had of the pictures in their textbooks. We got varied responses: while students liked some of the photos and found them helpful, they found others to be “boring,” “unhelpful,” and “from another century,” in addition to similar negative comments. Anyone who has ever looked through a textbook can probably sympathize with the students; in college I would routinely see images in my French books of teenagers wearing Reebok “Pumps” from 1987 with hair that looked vaguely like David Bowie’s during his Ziggy Stardust days. Not exactly an accurate or timely depiction of popular culture in the 21st century, and totally useless in comprehending what French kids actually did like. Similarly, some students who participated in the survey complained that the photos in the books did not help them learn core concepts, especially when it came to the sciences.

In response to the research, we decided to build a brand new collection called Images That Teach, which is fairly self-explanatory in terms of its main goal. We wanted to offer a solid gallery that contained images students could actually use to learn, not just photos that would serve as filler on pages otherwise laden with text. The collection consists of 12 subject-specific sub-galleries like Chemistry, Science Experiments, Physics, Environmental Science, and so forth, all designed to benefit students of all ages in comprehending new concepts presented in their textbooks. You can access the primary Images That Teach page by clicking on the link.

Studio shot on white surface of apple pie cut in eighths with one slice served on red plate, Los Angeles, CA

For example, the image above, which can be found in our Mathematics gallery, is designed to assist younger students in understanding fractions in a simple and fun way. There are also galleries which have been created with the advanced student in mind: our Criminology and Medical collections contain images that are useful for high school and college level students, such as photos detailing crime scene investigation techniques and in-depth medical illustrations of all major body systems.

Additionally, we organized the aforementioned survey responses into a handy 22-page PDF that is available free of charge to anyone who wants it. The PDF is split into sections such as “How can the images in your textbooks be improved?” and “Which types of images and captions do you like or find helpful?” Aside from the obvious benefit of learning the students’ opinions, the file also features some photos from our Images That Teach gallery. Accessing the PDF is incredibly easy: all you have to do is email me, your friendly neighborhood PhotoEdit blogger! You already love me (of course), so this should be a natural step for you.

Illustration of stomach diagram

We plan to (a) continue to expand our Images That Teach collection and (b) survey more students of differing age groups this year and into 2010, so if you like what you see, feel free to check back frequently for new content. We may also begin to survey teachers to see what they think of the images in the textbooks that they use. Should you have a category of images that you’d like to see featured in this collection, you know who to contact by now, naturally. Similarly, if by some coincidence you happen to work for a textbook publisher and have some texts that you’d like us to give to students to see what they think about them, we can also do that for you if given enough lead time. We at PhotoEdit sincerely hope the PDF and Images That Teach collection will have wide-ranging applications and be helpful across the board.

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That concludes this installment of PhotoEdit News. I should mention that if you are a stock photographer and you feel you have some images which go along with the Images That Teach theme, please get in touch with me via one of the five thousand email links I’ve strewn around the blog; PhotoEdit is always looking to expand its photography team, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, we’d love to see some of your work! The blogfest continues next week with the previously mentioned photo features, so stay tuned, and of course, if you have any questions or comments, either email me or leave a comment somewhere around the blog and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

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