Cyril DELHAY ©Josselyn Bossennec / Sciences Po
Pedagogy by competence : What is it ? The example of oratory art within the program FORCCAST
21 November 2017
2015-case methodology, DRIS, Library ©Marta Nascimento / Sciences Po
Case methodology: learning by doing
4 January 2018

A survey on the pedagogical use of images : for a more advanced teaching of critical analysis

2015-students in class, Havre Campus, Europe Asia ©Martin Argyroglo / Sciences Po

2015-students in class, Havre Campus, Europe Asia ©Martin Argyroglo / Sciences Po

At the beginning of 2017, Sciences Po’s teachers were invited to reply to a survey concerning the use they do of images during their teachings. The answers show that images are largely used in class materials. This massive use highlights the need to make images the object of analysis in their own rights. Yet, interestingly, the answers to the survey show that such critical training is still too rarely given to the students, or even absent. These results plead in favor of a better inclusion of the analysis in the programs.

Use of multimedia in teaching and fair use (in the educational sector) exception

The use of different media in a pedagogical context to ease the memorization and understanding of information is an old process. And it is generally accepted that the combination of text and image can improve significantly the process of learning.

The creation and use of supports, which integrate texts, images and music are largely used in the field of education, in part thanks to the help ENT (Environment of Numerical Work) have brought to the teaching communities, so that today a vast majority of professors takes advantage of multimedia to accompany the students in gaining knowledge, know-how and know-how-to-be.

In France, the rule of fair (educational) use regulates the use of media (images, visual arts, videos, books, reviews, music) by the teaching communities (updated the 26/09/2016 for four years).

This exception holds for the use of educational documents in class, the numerical diffusion via ENT to the learners, the creation of (competitive) exams as well as the use of documents for teaching activities, the training of researchers and professors or research activities.

The table below proposes a summary of the applicable conditions.

In class Via an ENT
Books Entirely Extracts of a “reasonable dimension”
Handbooks Extracts (4 consecutive pages, or 10% maximum)
    Printed reviews Entirety Extracts of a “reasonable dimension”
Images / Visual arts Entirety Entirety is possible (20 images by document, maximum)
Videos Extracts (6 minutes or 10% maximum)
Registered music Entirety is possible     30 seconds maximum
Written music / Extracts (3 consecutive pages or 10% maximum)

Survey on the educational use of images by Sciences Po teachers

Co-piloted by the DES and DRIS, a survey has been conducted beginning 2017 in order to identify the use that teachers make of image in their class materials and to fulfill potential service or accompanying needs in the use made of images.

The survey was composed of 13 questions, composing the following themes:

  • Types and numbers of used images and the materials in which they take place,
  • Intensity of images need,
  • Modality of research and creation of images / difficulties encountered,
  • Frequency of captions,
  • Training to image analysis and educational activities centered around images,
  • Needs in resources and support.

Launched at the beginning of 2017, the survey was sent to 2794 persons, among which 277 teachers have responded (a bit less than 10%). Answers have been made anonymous, while still making available a posteriori analysis via the Banner software (age, gender, status, discipline, program and campus).

We observe that the average age of the answerer is slightly higher than the reference sample, that women are overrepresented, like foreign languages teachers. The most represented disciplines are: humanities, political science and communication.

On the different themes of the survey, the following results are observed.

  1. Every types of images are used, with in Top 5, images from the News, data visualizations, art, maps and screenshots. 81% of the respondents use the images in the legal framework of fair use (less than 20 images in the teaching material). The teaching material used in class (71% of slides and 20% of printed documents) obey the rue of fair use.
  2. 77% of the respondents declare it difficult to do without images.
  3. A very large majority of respondents research images by themselves (98%), via Google Image (91%) and/or other databases (36%). Among the 44% of respondents, which create images themselves, 61% uses create data visualizations, 39% photography. 65% of the respondents don’t have difficulties to find the images they need. The 35% remaining principally indicate to have difficulties related to the research of images and the knowledge of the law (20%), access to the materials (8%), image creation (3%). Very few respondents have access to the services of Sciences Po (4%).
  4. Only 40% of the respondents provide systematically a caption of the used images, 35% of them do it sometimes only.
  5. Almost 70% of the respondents (68,9%) indicate to not include any training to image analysis in their class. Nevertheless, they are 62% to evaluate their students on the basis of exercises, which include images (via oral image analysis, debates about images, creation slides including images).
  6. 35% of respondents believe they do not need support, help or service related to their educational use of images. Among the 65% remaining, 44% evoke a support linked to the access to resources, materials and software solutions. Only 9% would appreciate a pedagogical help.

If we had to summarize in one sentence the results of the survey, we could write: “every students of Sciences Po use all sorts of images during their course, in the respect of the fair use exception”. But a result of the survey seems to deserve some attention: almost teachers use images to evaluate students, very few introduce in class a genuine training to the analysis of images in the media. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is nevertheless misleading. Many researches in semiology, cognitive psychology and education science highlight that images are not univocal and that their mature understanding rely on a rigorous and detailed analysis. This observation must lead to improved efforts to support the students towards a better mastering of images, “of their operatory modes, of their significations, of their impact and their symbolic register” (C. Pichon-Bonin).

Véronique DUBOIS-BOUCHET (Phd), Pedagogical engineer, Active Pedagogy Lab, Studies and Pedagogical Innovation Division, Sciences Po,
Caroline MAUFROID, Iconographist, Library, Scientific Information and Resources Department, Sciences Po,
Cécile TOUITOU, Head of the Marketing mission, Library, Scientific Information and Resources Department, Sciences Po.