The art of experience: Drawings as a tool to enhance phenomenological research

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This methodological article examines the role of arts-based research as a tool in transcendental phenomenology. Specifically, it highlights a phenomenological doctoral dissertation study integrating arts-based research to understand the essence of doctoral student motherhood/mothering in academia. Arts-based research was incorporated to facilitate discussion and delve deeper (quicker) into the experience of becoming a mother for the first time, a typically sensitive topic for participants. Using SEIDMAN’S (1991) protocol for interviewing, drawings were elicited from participants during the course of three consecutive interviews. Participants described their drawings and their descriptions became a part of the interview transcripts. The resultant transcripts were later transcribed, coded and analyzed following transcendental phenomenological methods set forth by HUSSERL (1931) and codified by MOUSTAKAS (1994). Findings from the study suggest the incorporation of drawings as a useful tool within the phenomenological study to encourage discussion and understanding. Future research could address whether the same results could have been achieved with additional interviews? Does the incorporation of arts-based research askew phenomenological research by potentially eliciting participant “interpretation” of their experience? For qualitative researchers, this article brings forth emerging practices in arts-based research and phenomenology, suggesting benefits and potential detriments of using drawings within the phenomenological toolset.
Original languageEnglish
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung
Publication statusSubmitted - 2016


  • phenomenology
  • arts-based research
  • Husserl
  • Moustakas
  • motherhood
  • motherhood in academia
  • graduate student
  • experience
  • lived experience

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