In this essay, I shall be comparing whether it is possible to use visual methods as opposed to observational, when undertaking research with children and young people. I will be comparing data and opinions of Linda Liebenberg and what challenges you may face in various methods of visual research. I shall first examine what constitute each type of research and then I shall examine how these can be used comparing the methods. I shall then conclude on whether one form is better than the other when undertaking research with children and young people. Visual methods of research are where a researcher collates data which in the main is generated by the participant; this data then goes on to be the basis of the researcher's analysis or, can be used as a base for further research. Helen Lomax (EK313, online, unit 10 activity 7) states that visual methods are often seen as giving voice to children and young people. As this method is more participatory it allows children to explore given situations in their lives and allow the researcher to understand how they view and interpret it these. .
There are different forms of observational methods however, for the purpose of this essay I shall concentrate on two: participant observations and structured observation. Participation observation is carried out within a setting and produces notes, audio and or video recordings over a period of time in order to enable a researcher to gain their data. Alternatively, structured observation; the researcher only observes the pre-determined behaviour that is being researched "their main aim is to tick boxes to gain tallies and data" (The Open University, 2014). Within Visual research you see "the power can swing between both parties" (Flewitt, 2014); as whilst the researcher selects the design of the research it is the participant which views the visual material. However, problems can arise due to this approach as it always requires real life context where data is based on the participant's interpretation moving away from explanation in favour of description (The Open University, 2014).