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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cultural Probes in Transmigrant Research: A Case Study

  • Author(s): Robertson, Shanthi K
  • et al.

Cultural probes are a relatively new method of data collection which have been used extensively in design-based research since their initial inception by Gaver, Dunne, and Pacenti in 1999. Based on notions of “uncertainty, play, exploration and subjective interpretation” (Gaver, Boucher, Pennington, & Walker, 2004, p. 53), cultural probes are purposefully designed packages of mixed-media materials, such as disposable cameras, diaries, photo albums, postcards, and tape recorders, which are given to participants to explore and complete in their daily environments. In this paper, I will discuss and evaluate the adaptation of cultural probes for use in a qualitative study on transnational migration. Through discussion and reflective analysis of my experiences using probes for research on international students who become skilled migrants, I will make some suggestions on how probes can enhance and enrich data when used alongside more traditional qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews.

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