Visual Sociology Mobile Scavenger Hunt

Here is the activity I ran in my graduate-level qualitative methods class last week. Now that we have done it once, for next time I will have some examples to show.

Soc 584 :: Qualitative Research Methods
Visual Sociology and Stereotype Threat :: A Mobile Scavenger Hunt

Adapted from Kim Vincent-Layton – thank you Kim!

Theoretical Foundation: Stereotype Threat

Coined by Steele and Aronson (1995), stereotype threat is a psychological concept often used to explain issues related to student engagement, retention and success. Stereotype threat is the psychological predicament in which a person feels pressured by stereotypes about the groups with which they identify. For example, if a woman goes into a math exam feeling that she may confirm the negative stereotypes about women and math, she may not do well on the test. Stepping back from the level of individual, members of minority groups may be less successful in their academic career because they are experiencing stereotype threat, and this may help explain various achievement gaps between groups.

Research Method: Visual Sociology

This is an area of sociology that studies the visual dimensions of society, culture and social interactions. This may involve art, photography, and filmmaking, and/or image-based research. Data collection includes the use of cameras and other recording devices. Methods employed by visual sociologists include experiments, focus groups, classroom studies, ethnography and oral history.

Research Questions

  • Are some groups experiencing stereotype threat at Humboldt State University?
  • If so, what groups are experiencing stereotype threat?
  • How is Humboldt State University impacting stereotype threat for some groups on campus?

Today’s Activity

Using Visual Sociology, we will explore the visuals on Humboldt State University that may contribute to, or detract from, stereotype threat. You will work with a small group of your classmates to look for, and photograph, visual cues that may relate to stereotype threat.


  • SmartPhone with photo capabilities
  • A video or collage app of choice (e.g. Vine, YouTube Capture, Animoto, PicStich, PhotoGrid)
  • An app with an account that will enable you to share your results (e.g. Animoto, Vine, Flipagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Classroom computer with projector to share final video/collage
  • Moodle: I have posted links and tutorials for these sites/apps to help you explore your options


Step One: Before you depart

Talk as a group for 10 minutes to make sure you are on the same page:

  • What is your understanding of stereotype threat?
  • What groups do you think are most impacted by stereotype threat?
  • Where might be good research sites on campus for your study?

Step Two: Scavenger hunt

You have 40 minutes to go on a team scavenger hunt, looking for and capturing visuals around campus that may stimulate, or ease, stereotype threat (think: signage, posters, structures, etc.).

Step Three: Create a video collage

You have 30 minutes as a team to use a mobile app (see the list in Materials) to create a video or photo collage of no more than one minute. Upload the collage to a site that will enable you to share your results with the class (see list in Materials).

Step Four: Debrief with group

You have 10 minutes as a team to discuss how you will frame your findings, and how you can explain them using your theoretical foundation (stereotype threat) and your research method (Visual Sociology).

Step Five: Present results to Class

Each group will have 5 minutes to present their results to the class, and discuss their findings.


About meremerewilliams

Assistant Professor, Criminology and Justice Studies and Sociology, Humboldt State University
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One Response to Visual Sociology Mobile Scavenger Hunt

  1. kbv7001 says:

    Here’s a student activity that would create a nice balance with the stereotype threat component: Values Affirmation Activity:

    This is a wonderful activity for all courses in terms of building community and inclusiveness.


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