Arts-Based Approaches to Qualitative Research

Five arts-based qualitative researchers discuss their approaches to inquiry through the art forms of theatre (Johnny Saldaña), visual art (Kakali Bhattacharya), poetry (Monica Prendergast and Robyn Shenfield), and comics illustration (Sally Campbell Galman). The presenters testify that the arts are epistemologies—ways of knowing—and their uses in qualitative research generate analytic insights not possible through conventional methods.

The webinar showcases their unique artistic styles and offers recommendations to colleagues interested in exploring the arts as forms of research presentation and representation.

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About the Presenters

Johnny Saldaña is Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance, and Theatre. He is the author of Longitudinal Qualitative Research: Analyzing Change through Time, Fundamentals of Qualitative Research, The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, Thinking Qualitatively: Methods of Mind, Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage, Writing Qualitatively: The Selected Works of Johnny Saldaña, co-author with the late Miles and Huberman for Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook, and co-author with Matt Omasta for Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life. Saldaña’s qualitative methods works have been cited and referenced in more than 21,000 research studies conducted in over 135 countries.

Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya is a professor at the University of Florida, housed in the Research, Evaluation, and Measurement Program. Her work has made spaces in interdisciplinary de/colonizing work and qualitative research where creativity and contemplative approaches are legitimized and seen as gateways for cultivating depth, integrity, expansive inquiry, and discovering critical insights. Substantively, she explores transnational issues of race, class, and gender in higher education. She is the 2018 winner of AERA’s Mid-Career Scholar of Color Award and the 2018 winner of AERA’s Mentoring Award from Division G: Social Context of Education. Her co-authored text with Kent Gillen, Power, Race, and Higher Education: A Cross-Cultural Parallel Narrative, won a 2017 Outstanding Publication Award from AERA (SIG 168) and a 2018 Outstanding Book Award from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. She is the 2020 winner of the Mary Frances Early College of Education Distinguished Alumni Award for research from the University of Georgia.

Monica Prendergast is Professor of Drama/Theatre Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Victoria. Her research interests include drama-based curriculum and pedagogy, drama/theatre in community contexts, and arts-based qualitative research methods. Dr. Prendergast's books include: Applied Theatre and Applied Drama; Teaching Spectatorship; Poetic Inquiry; Staging the Not-yet; Drama, Theatre and Performance Education in Canada; Poetic Inquiry II; Teachers and Teaching on Stage and on Screen. Her CV includes 50+ peer-reviewed journal contributions, 25+ chapters, book reviews and professional contributions. Monica also reviews theatre for CBC Radio Canada and writes a column on theatre for Focus Magazine.

Robyn Shenfield is a PhD candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. In 2021 she was awarded a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Robyn has taught in public and independent schools in Australia and Canada, and at the undergraduate level to preservice elementary school teachers. She has published work in a number of journals including Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, Art/Research International, and NJ: Drama Australia Journal.

Sally Campbell Galman is an anthropologist and visual artist whose research focuses on arts-based study of young children, families and gender diversity. She believes that gender self determination is a human right and that hearing and telling stories makes us all more fully human. She is Professor of Child and Family Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and was recently Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She is the author and illustrator of the Shane series of qualitative methods comics, and is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator in both the academic and popular presses. Learn more at

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