Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Jessica Meendering


Introduction: Currently there are no interactive tools that allow school communities to assess their school wellness needs and foster interest in wellness efforts. PhotoVoice is a participatory action research methodology commonly used in public health that utilizes photography to document and showcase community strengths and weaknesses in order to promote change. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gather perceptions of a school community after using PhotoVoice to document school wellness efforts 1. Participants: High school students (n=103) and school community members (i.e., residents of community, school faculty) (n=188) were recruited across three school districts. Methods: High school students were asked to attend four educational sessions about how to use PhotoVoice. Students were then asked to use PhotoVoice to capture the strengths and weaknesses regarding SWE at their school and these photographs were displayed in photo exhibits (n=3). High school students (i.e., those who used PhotoVoice (n=49) and those who did not (n=67)) and school community members (i.e., residents of the community/parents) (n=54) and school faculty (n=18) were asked to attend the photo exhibits and complete an open-ended survey immediately following the photo exhibit. Data was analyzed using content analysis theory to identify themes. Results: The most common theme reported after viewing the photo exhibit was an increase in awareness of ix SWE (n=84). A small number of participants reported no change in awareness (n=14). A report of no change in awareness was less likely in students who used PhotoVoice (2%) compared to students that did not (13%). The photo exhibit increased participants’ willingness to take action (i.e., wanting to discuss SWE with others) (n=83) or made them begin contemplating taking action (i.e., need to get more involved with the school) (n=20) to improve SWE. School faculty (22%) and students who used PhotoVoice (18%) responded with the most motivation to take action to improve SWE. Motivation was lower in students who did not use PhotoVoice (13%) and residents of the school community/parents (7%). Conclusion: These data suggest PhotoVoice may help increase awareness and motivate members of the school community to improve SWE, all while creating a positive transdisciplinary project based learning experience for participating students.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Schools--Health promotion services
Health education


References on pages 38-40



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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