Researcher Reflections

Using Visual Methods to Enhance Our Understanding of Employability


  • Emma Parry University of Sheffield
  • Xin Zhao University of Sheffield


There is a growing body of literature recognising the importance of visual methods in social science research and in education (Kara et al. 2021; Mulvihill & Swaminathan, 2019). They encompass a variety of data collection techniques, such as photo/drawing elicitation (Kahu & Pickton, 2020; Brown & Wang, 2013) and various analytical approaches, including interpreting images as text (Reavey, 2011). Non-textual data provides rich experiences from participants and can be used alongside traditional methods, such as interviews for rich data collection and analysis. While drawings/comic storyboards have been explored with school children, less research exists on using visual methods for student employability (Timming, 2017). Our chapter explores how traditional and digital drawings can be used as innovative methods to enrich understanding of student employability. Using data from two recent studies and authors’ reflections, this chapter showcases this participatory approach, presenting the benefits and challenges of application for international student employability research.

How to cite in APA:

Parry, E., & Zhao, X. (2020). Researcher reflections: Using visual methods to enhance our understanding of employability. In X. Zhao, M. Kung, K. Bista, & Y. Ma (eds), Home and abroad: International student experiences and graduate employability (pp. 109-120). STAR Scholars.

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Author Biographies

Emma Parry, University of Sheffield

Emma Parry is a Careers and Employability Consultant for the Careers Service and Management School at the University of Sheffield. She collaborates closely with a wide range of academics and professional services staff to co-create, embed and deliver employability content within the curriculum. Her teaching includes reaching students at undergraduate and postgraduate level along with providing one to one support for students’ future success. Emma is also chartered Occupational Psychologist and prior to moving to the Higher Education sector, worked on a range of national and European projects in the field of diversity, career development and soft skills. Emma’s research interests include school to work transitions and the use of creative methods. E-mail: 

Xin Zhao, University of Sheffield

Xin Zhao is a university teacher at the Information School of the University of Sheffield and a senior fellow of HEA. Her areas of interests include internationalization, digital pedagogy, and cross-cultural communication. She also delivers staff training courses at national and international conferences and staff development weeks at Linnaeus University, the University of Zadar, and Central China Normal University. Among her many roles, she is currently Employability Officer at the Information School and is actively engaged in activities for student employability development. E-mail:



How to Cite

Parry, E., & Zhao, X. (2022). Researcher Reflections : Using Visual Methods to Enhance Our Understanding of Employability. STAR Scholar Books, 109–120. Retrieved from