Volume 6 Issue 2 (2010): Research Practice in Art and Design: Experiential Knowledge and Organised Inquiry
Experiential Knowledge in Doctoral Research

The Power of Visual Approaches in Qualitative Inquiry: The Use of Collage Making and Concept Mapping in Experiential Research

Lynn Butler-Kisber
McGill University
Tiiu Poldma
Published January 7, 2011
  • collage,
  • concept mapping,
  • arts-informed inquiry,
  • qualitative research


The burgeoning interest in arts-informed research and the increasing variety of visual possibilities as a result of new technologies have paved the way for researchers to explore and use visual forms of inquiry. This article investigates how collage making and concept mapping are useful visual approaches that can inform qualitative research. They are experiential ways of doing/knowing that help to get at tacit aspects of both understanding and process and to make these more explicit to the researcher and more accessible to audiences. It outlines specific ways that each approach can be used with examples to illustrate how the approach informs the researcher's experience and that of the audience. The two approaches are compared and contrasted and issues that can arise in the work are discussed.