Using Photography in the Classroom: Centering Student Participation and Creative Expression

As we prepare to teach in online and hybrid classrooms in the fall semester and beyond, the challenges of maintaining student engagement and lifting up student voices require attention as we design and adapt syllabi and assignments.  Assignments that ask students to take photographs engage students in important skills and practices such as documenting, archiving, framing, curating and sharing content and ideas. This workshop will provide opportunities for participants to explore different types of photography assignments, and use  a backward design to create their own assignment. This pedagogical approach draws on elements from visual and arts-based tools and methods in teaching and research, opening up space to consider how these processes and methods may be applied to other modes of expression.

This workshop was developed by Sakina Laksimi-Morrow for the Teach@CUNY 2020 Summer Institute.

Learning Goals:

  • Design an assignment that asks students to use photography in some way.Align the assignment tasks/requirements with course learning goals.
  • Understand the use of arts-based methods in teaching and research.


Photography can be mobilized in a variety of ways in classrooms across disciplines to foster student participation, creative expression and more. Asking students to use photography can be a way of offering them a platform to practice a number of skills while engaging course content and meeting learning goals. Using principles from Backwards Design along with a curated website of resources about photography-based assignments, participants will be asked to create their own assignment for the Fall semester. There will be opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous office check-ins throughout the institute and into the summer.


  1. Visit the Using Photography Website 
  2. Browse website and pick assignment type
  3. Use a backwards design template and collaborate on google folders to develop and share assignments.
  4. Optional: schedule 30 mins meeting to get feedback on assignment


  1. An assignment that  can be implemented in the Fall 2020.
  2. Understanding of using visual media and arts-based methods in teaching