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The Body-Camera Approach: Teacher Identity through Video Elicitation and Video Essay to Create Shared Heritages

Ángela Barrera-García
Dolores Álvarez-Rodríguez
Department of Didactics of Musical, Plastic and Corporal Expression, Faculty of Education, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Heritage 2024, 7(4), 2055-2070;
Submission received: 1 December 2023 / Revised: 20 March 2024 / Accepted: 28 March 2024 / Published: 30 March 2024
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research in Heritage Education: Transdisciplinary Approaches)


This paper presents an approach to teacher identity heritage as a result of the implementation of a research device created through Arts-Based Research (ABR) methods, specifically with video elicitation and video essays used as research tools. Two main objectives were addressed. The first one was to establish the real relevance of focusing performance on teacher identity. The second one involved testing a new methodological proposal specifically designed for this purpose, but still useful in other contexts where heritage identity is as present as in teaching. The device, a body camera, involves a process that allows new ways to understand the creation of identities using video to encourage the production of new meanings through visual and oral data. The participants were teachers in training during their internship period. Some notions about teachers’ identity heritage were revealed, and also preserved, firstly through personal perspectives by video elicitations, and secondly through collective perspectives by video essays. Both are video structures used in ABR which mix creative experience, memories, life experiences, relationships, and links that shape the teachers’ professional identity.

1. Introduction

Nowadays, teacher identity is an evolving and changing concept [1]. This is particularly evident for teachers in training, as they are surrounded by influences that include not only their epistemological formation, but also their personal, inter-personal, and contextual circumstances. These shape the heritage framework of teacher identity. All these aspects are interdependent and affect the idea teachers have of themselves and the profession [2]. Thus, this identity becomes “an evolving concept under constant reformulation through life experiences and relationships” [3] (p. 495). New approaches are needed in an era in which digital and technological advances affect all processes generated between heritage and identity links. For this reason, processes based on arts can be useful for research on heritage and even heritage education. These methodologies understand heritage education from an active and creative point of view, being tools to develop identity values, intercultural respect, and social change [4].
On this account, the body camera emerges as a tool to create heritage and identity. It acts as a memory machine that goes beyond the physical body, demanding to bring back the past toward present situations [5]. Inevitably, the private sphere, personal and individual dilemmas, joins the public sphere. This externalization of memories and life goals allows the process of identity creation to be reviewed, including the one that concerns us. Teachers’ identities are “composed and improvised as [they] live [their] lives embodying knowledge and engaging contexts” [6] (p. 4).
The creative aspects of our research make sense when approaching a certain updated conception of cultural heritage, related to the ideas addressed in the Faro Convention [7]. This promoted a shift in perspective that allows us to understand heritage from a social standpoint focused on individuals and collectives, and hence relevant to heritage education. Therefore, we understand intangible cultural heritage as a set of personal and social issues that impact the development of future educators. By working with the intangible realm of heritage, we simultaneously explore the concept of creating shared heritage.
The use of interactive video essays in the training processes of future teachers enriches the professional configuration by providing tangible and immediate examples where participants are placed in an empathetic position, resonating with their life experiences and allowing them to “creatively appropriate” heritage [8]. This interaction can take a formalist approach using devices whose format allows for physical interaction, but also a conceptual and symbolic one, providing these future teachers with an active role within their training process [9]. These processes occur thanks to the ability of this medium to raise awareness and capture sensations of the world from a contemporary point of view, a perspective embedded in a society saturated with audiovisual stimuli [10].
The “body camera” combination was developed to serve three roles: one of mediation as researchers, another as a learning facilitator for teachers in training, and a last one as a guide for participants throughout the creative process, focusing on self-exploration and self-expression. Hence, the authorship of the artistic results originating from this creative process belongs entirely to the participants themselves. Video essay was the tool chosen, due to its melding of cinema and documentary [11]. This hybrid nature is able to create new discourses and opinions from two sources: the subjective point of view of participants and the concept of the body understood as a recording device sensitive to daily stimuli, which are also part of the narrative [12]. This provides the participants with enough flexibility to develop their creative autonomy and assume an active role, promoting new and transformative social spaces in audiovisual and digital cultures [13]. The adoption of this methodological approach based on artistic processes contributes to the development of the “cognitive, instrumental and socio-emotional competences required to build both, personal and professional identities” [14] (p. 616).
The main aim of this research is to reveal the notions about the teaching identity of educators at a key moment in their training. The moment in which there is direct contact with professional reality in real school contexts is decisive when constructing teaching identity. Thus, the device is created as a space for reflection through creation, different from traditional models of audiovisual creation. To achieve this, group dynamics were constantly used to improve joint efforts among participants. In this sense, the “blind” video editing of the last stage is particularly relevant. This video editing was designed following the premises of three contemporary works: “Life in a day”, by Kevin Macdonald; “Spain in a day”, by Isabel Coixet; and “Life in a day 2020” by Macdonald, a revision of his previous project in collaboration with the online platform YouTube. The narratives and structures of these audiovisual projects are based on identity aspects, which is why they are direct antecedents for our proposal. Furthermore, they imply the creation of an identity heritage based on personal and shared ties that arise from the artistic proposal. This is especially interesting for the purpose of this research.
All these full-length films gather several recordings filmed by volunteers and they reflect a common feeling from different perspectives. Their narrative continuity is subject to the assembly of all the received video clips. In the work “Life in a day”, participants were given some pre-established questions about love, dreams, and beliefs to make results uniform to a certain extent, thereby creating a precise cultural portrait of Spanish identity. Following the same approach, this research project proposes three questions for participants to reflect on how their teacher identity affects their memories and life experiences. The answers to these questions, perhaps unnoticed until then, bring to the surface some heritage elements linked to them.
When everyone responds to the same question, combining all the different answers provides a comprehensive insight into what the entire group thinks, feels, and remembers about the common topic. Although this is interesting in itself, we go beyond making a collection of responses. Instead, we consolidate all the answers to the three questions into a single audiovisual work, providing a more holistic vision of the concept of ‘heritage’, and creating shared heritages.

2. Materials and Methods

The methodology used is based on the arts (Arts-Based Research (ABR)) with an a/r/tographic and ethnographic approach, where artistic practice and theoretical contents are worked horizontally simultaneously and in a non-hierarchical way [15]. Teachers’ personal experience served as a source of self-knowledge and its analysis was used as a significant part of this research [16]. The methodological approach, known as a/r/tography [17], is one of the most influential approaches within Arts-Based Research and proposes a relational inquiry in which the figures of the researcher, the teacher, and the artist blend and overlap. A/r/tography “connects with the concepts of ‘embodied thought’ and ‘situated activity’ or ‘situated cognition’, both of which declare that thought is inseparable both from action and from social and cultural contexts” [18] (p. 887), turning this methodological proposal into a living investigation [19]. Video essays were chosen from among all the possible Arts-Based Research strategies because of their interesting characteristics. Their a/r/tographic structure works at the same time as a tool to carry out the theory and as the means to establish a double narrative link with each individual participant and the group. Thus, on the one hand, each participant contributes to providing new issues and solutions thanks to the interactive nature of the process where they assume a main role. On the other hand, the emotional and collective narrative connection is developed. This connection arises from the different memories that make up each individual teaching identity.
Video elicitation was the analysis tool used in the first stage. It is a research tool that makes use of a stimulus, in this case specific questions, to inspire participants to reveal thoughts and emotions about one subject, particularly about teacher identity. This approach allowed recorded stories to be considered testimonies by themselves, susceptible to introducing new data to the study [20]. Unlike a simple recording, the filmed stories showed the relationship between body and space, which leaves an intermediate gap where memories are placed as a way of embodying memory itself.
After this first stage, defragmentation was used to implement a “deconstructive break” [21] of the original video elicitation. This process dissolves the narrative in a certain way when “cuts” are made and leads to the production of a new form of video editing that is no longer individual, but shared, resulting in a collective video essay that brings together the experiences of the different participants. Since participants worked with only a short audiovisual segment instead of the entire video elicitation, the subsequent editing process was faster and more immediate, as the process of viewing the audiovisual content before they edited it was more dynamic. It also helped to decontextualize an individual discourse of almost a minute in length. As a result, the obtained video fragments happen to be interesting enough to adapt themselves more organically within the collective discourse, leading to a new meaning.
The analysis of the subsequent results was predominantly visual, using descriptive sequences as the primary analytical tool. A descriptive sequence is a still image generated from a series of frames extracted from audiovisual material based on the timeline. The time interval between each frame depends on the video’s duration and the desired number of frames. In this case, five descriptive sequences were created, each composed of 32 frames. This allowed us to visually evaluate several parameters: narrative continuity, narrative coherence, color palettes, recurring elements and symbols, types of shots used, and other audiovisual features.
Unlike a set of frames extracted from the video essay without established criteria, this tool allows for a systematized selection. Therefore, it proves to be a much more precise way to visually describe the action in any audiovisual piece since it encompasses the whole video, giving a clear idea of the content without the need to reproduce it.
This research was carried out with 16 participants. All of them were final-year students of the Primary Education degree, supporting their teaching internships in different schools within the scope of approaching teacher identity from a professional point of view. We selected an age group ranging from 20 to 35 years old—young individuals with real responsibilities in school settings. This is interesting for the purpose of the research, as they are undergoing a crucial stage in the development of their teacher identity while transitioning from the role of a student to that of a professional [22]. The data sought were of an artistic and qualitative nature, specifically personal responses conveyed through the medium of audiovisual language. All the results were collected through the Google Drive platform for two main reasons, the first one being its cost-effectiveness, as any user can create an account and upload any type of content. In addition, the University of Granada has an agreement with Google Drive and has been collaborating with this company for a considerable period of time. The other reason was the facility to automate the process and to be eligible for later use with other groups of participants.
The methodological process consisted of three clearly differentiated phases, organized in two sessions of fieldwork with the participants. This allowed for a gradual approach to the research tools, so that the participants would familiarize themselves with them in a natural and intuitive way.
In the first phase, which took place in the first session, the tool of video elicitation was applied. The subjects were asked to record three videos, answering each one of these three questions:
  • Which memory best defines me?
  • What space does my body inhabit?
  • Which experience from my teaching internship best defines me as a teacher?
They had to be answered based on three main premises, in order to reveal innate emotions and thoughts.
Firstly, spoken responses had to be spontaneous, not artificial or rehearsed, in order to have a natural result.
Secondly, all recorded images had to belong to their everyday life context and should have been previously planned to answer the proposed question, as opposed to the audio track. A certain degree of control over the filming conditions was necessary in order to achieve a good audio quality, since videos could not be edited afterwards.
Finally, each video elicitation answering every question had to consist of a single subjective shot of 30 to 60 s that could not be cut anywhere.
The use of raw, unedited material responds to the need to facilitate the process, as not all participants were familiar with audiovisual language. Consequently, they could focus their efforts on delving into their memories and the relationship between their body and the chosen setting.
Subjective shots were mandatory, meaning that recording devices should always be at eye level. The purpose of this choice was to place viewers at the same level as the person recording to grant a better understanding of the author’s point of view.
The following common technical guidelines were established: horizontal video format 16:9; file extension .mov or .mp4; and minimum resolution 1920 × 1080, 30 fps.
The second and third phases took place during the second session.
In the second phase, participants were placed in pairs. Each one of them chose a 10 s video excerpt from each one of the video elicitations of their partner, based exclusively on two things: audiovisual quality and the feelings that it evoked. It was important that every excerpt had meaning on its own. In order to achieve this, some aspects had to be taken into consideration, such as technical factors (for example, discourse should not be interrupted abruptly) as well as the narrative content from an artistic point of view. Participants used the tool CapCut (version 5.5.0), a video and sound edition software, carefully selected because it has a friendly interface, is available online for different systems, and it is free of charge.
For the third phase, participants were divided into groups of four. Each group had to make a coherent video essay without any visual or verbal explanation using the twelve excerpts at each group’s disposal, which were generated in the second phase. This last phase was planned as a “blind exercise”: the material was not known to the groups until the last moment, since video elicitations had not been previously shared among them to avoid any bias in the previous stage. Upon completion, all four collective video essays were put together to create a final, combined one, once again using CapCut.
Afterwards, five descriptive sequences were created: one from each of the four collective video essays created in the third phase, and a fifth one from the final combined video. In order to make them, the total duration in seconds of each video was divided into parts (25 or 30) equal in length, to calculate the appropriate amount of time between each frame of the descriptive sequence. The number of frames was determined by the duration of the videos (nearly two minutes each). Upon initial observation, 25–30 frames might appear to be an overly high amount for the length of the works. However, this is exactly what makes this tool as precise as it is: its ability to provide an overview of the content and to identify how many shots are repeated or which ones are longer than the rest.

3. Results

During this project, 48 video elicitations were created. These recordings were used to create four final independent video essays, each of them composed of 12 video excerpts from the video elicitations. All four video essays were put together to create a single, longer one.
The first video essay (Figure 1) compiles some of the audio narratives that include family memories, along with a self-evaluation. It evokes a general feeling of taking as little space as possible in society and contains a brief reference to friendship bonds.
Visually, warm colors are mostly used, being different values of brown the dominant ones. Most of the clips were recorded while walking or inhabiting the outdoor areas of the university campus. This means that spatial and corporal relationships were deliberated, showing several images of transit areas, such as corridors and stairs. Symmetrical shots are frequent, as well as soft lights, avoiding high contrasts.
The second video essay (Figure 2) delves into personal limits, comfort zones, and relationships with the past. There are powerful visual answers, such as the simile between perfectionism and stairs, or the choice to record those spots that enhance intimacy. There is no visual trace of educational centers but they are somehow present in the rest of the experiences, narrated by people who reflect upon their past to move forward.
Although there is little variety in the shots used, the stillness seen in all of them evokes the feeling of a private conversation with someone you can hear but not fully see. There is great contrast among the different lights used: some scenes were filmed at night and some others with bright lights, mostly from artificial sources. The continuity of the video essay is negatively affected by this lack of uniformity, reinforced by a common discourse among the authors.
The third video essay (Figure 3) tends to show empty educational spaces. In this sense, there are two clear trends in the choice of spaces: indoor and outdoor areas, constantly interacting.
Cohesion is so well achieved in this video essay that one could assume it is always the same person narrating their experience, as there is some accordance among the life goals and projects of different participants. The question about the space that their body inhabits is answered in a formal way and refers mostly to the spaces that they transit on a daily basis. From a visual point of view, warm tonalities are again the trend, brown being the main color palette of the video.
The fourth video essay (Figure 4) differs completely from the rest in terms of brightness. The spaces presented are mostly dark, either due to the time of the day or the space itself. Urban settings are emphasized, from parking lots to pavements or roads. However, the narrative shared is about nature and the sense of peace and comfort it evokes. The power of friendship to define one’s personality is underlined, as well as the need to spend some time alone in everyday life.
The color palette shows little variation, with a tendency to brown. Movement is present in most shots, either of the body or the space, scanning the surroundings with the camera as someone would look around their environment.
The final video essay, created after putting together the previous clips (Figure 5), reveals a final result of exceptional narrative and aesthetic quality. Even if colorimetry made it difficult to be immersed at all times, the final video essay was converted to black and white (Figure 6) to solve this problem and improve cohesion between all the excerpts. It is worth mentioning that the order in which the four video essays were put together corresponds to each team number. Therefore, it was not planned to give a sense of continuity to the narrative, although they work well together.
We have uploaded the video essays and all the data of this research to an open-access web repository, using the platform Wix as a dataset ( (accessed on 30 November 2023) (Figure 7 and Figure 8)).

4. Discussion

The original question of this research looked for an immediate approach to drawing attention to the process of building a professional identity for a group of future teachers. How could different perspectives be shared through a collective process? In this sense, the choreographer Olga de Soto pondered about the remains of scenic works once people no longer remember or talk about them [23] (p. 127). She solved this issue using a device in which expressing memories would reconstruct the idea of the body and the work itself, since “orality implies not only a commitment on behalf of the speaker, but a responsibility towards memory” [5] (p. 137). In this case, the body camera model takes advantage of the potentiality embedded in individual reconstructions, not only as teachers but as living bodies that feel, and whose life experiences affect professional environments and influence self-concepts relating to it. In this regard, perspective is understood as a double interaction body-individual [24], firstly as a body that belongs to the world, and secondly, as an individual who makes sense of the world, creating a linking bond between both. Memory should be added to this interaction as a key factor [25].
Several studies conceive video elicitation as a tool to tease a deeper discussion about certain topics, as opposed to an interview. This is because it uses different stimuli (photographs, videos, pieces of writing, or specific settings) that significantly improve the expression of the connection created towards the object of study [20]. In this case, the object of study is the process of building teacher identities, which helps future teachers understand the relationship between who they are and what they do professionally [26]. In the last two decades, scientific literature has emerged that incorporates a more human-centered point of view of the concept of heritage, wherein the individual is an active agent in heritage creation [8,27,28]. Additionally, there has been an exploration of the potential of the identity dimension in the construction of heritage processes [29]. Some relevant studies for our research approach the configuration of teaching identity using a reflective methodology [30]. These usually work with pre-service teachers using different tools. One of them is the “corporal diary” [31], which is used to explore the relationship between their corporal dimension and its implication in teaching. Another tool could be a combination of artistic and expressive processes used as recordings of “corporal stories” [32]. These usually reflect upon the body as the means to live experiences embedded in the training curriculum of soon-to-be art teachers. Another tool would be the [identity self-portrait] carried out through audiovisual means as a learning–teaching strategy for future secondary teachers [33].
In a project like this one, it was necessary to present an overview as broad as possible about how these identity processes are managed as a group [34]. To overcome all possible technical issues, excerpts from video elicitations had to be short in order to facilitate creative processes. In addition, the subsequent remaining or redefining of the narrative had to be accelerated. Putting together all the clips was vital in the development of the project, since it transformed the students into authors, allowing them to play the role of “prosumers” [35]. During this process, they combine creative action with a visual and personal analysis to explore their own self-awareness through audiovisual works. The body-camera approach represents a new methodological approach using video elicitation as a didactic tool. The subsequent “blind video editing” of excerpts serves as a means to create shared heritages and new visual discourses based on the life and professional experiences of participants.

5. Conclusions

After analyzing the results obtained following the implementation of the body-camera device, we conclude that this study about teacher identity in pre-service training has met the proposed objectives. Different expressions of visual ideas were triggered for each participant, some of them recurring. These ideas were later developed in groups, creating a community of soon-to-be teachers who share interests, motivations, doubts, and convictions, leading to a collective identity. The latter can be seen not only in the video elicitations recorded but also in the video essays that were then created.
Unlike the models followed in the previously mentioned cinematic references, the audiovisual products resulting from the different phases of our research do not reflect an authorial perspective. Instead, they are collectively constructed by the participants through a collaborative creative process. The central idea is to emphasize the absence of a singular authoritative voice and underscore the collective contribution of the participants in the creation of the audiovisual product.
We found out that teacher identity is closely related to the vital processes and personal heritage of each one of the people taking part in this research experience. There is a powerful link between their self-concept as teachers and their acquired values, either from family or friend relationships. It is particularly interesting to note the definition of their self-concept derived from video elicitations based on the different points of view in which they are positioned: as teachers, as creators, and as students. These three aspects are also affected by the personal heritage of each participant, meaning that acquired values, relationships, and their past in general shape and impact their education and their profession.
However, some difficulties regarding technical issues were found, most of them relating to the quality of the audiovisual material due to its exportation. The software of choice solved some of these problems, but working with cloud services caused the loss of file information due to compression processes in some cases.
One improvement to consider would be to subtitle the video evocations as an enhancement in the accessibility of the experience, and also for their subsequent analysis. Analyzing verbal discourse is impossible solely through descriptive sequences.
Regarding the artistic quality of the results and considering both visual and sound dimensions, we can determine that they fulfill the purpose of developing a collective view over the processes that build a professional identity as future teachers through memories. However, oral quality was prioritized over visual aspects in some cases, devaluing the visual and symbolic interest of the videos. Nevertheless, this can be solved through an analytical revision of results in cooperation with participants, creating a reflection space to develop more visual discourses and narratives, useful in a possible new project.
Additionally, this device could inspire more flexible learning environments with a focus on students if brought to the schools where participants are carrying out their teaching internships. However, this would clash with legal and ethical limitations relating to data and image protection of underage children. To overcome these obstacles, the structure of the body camera should be readapted. A possible solution would be adapting the design to the legislative framework concerning each context.
Finally, the body-camera device that has been designed and implemented in this research project shows new strategies based on creation from an active heritage perspective. Moreover, it offers the possibility to expand the open-access web support to store new data from different participants under the same conditions for further research, taking advantage of new technologies to develop a virtual meeting point outside formal education that contributes to the construction of teaching identity from shared heritage.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; methodology, Á.B.-G.; software, Á.B.-G.; validation, D.Á.-R.; formal analysis, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; investigation, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; resources, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; data curation, Á.B.-G.; writing—original draft preparation, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; writing—review and editing, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; visualization, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; supervision, D.Á.-R.; project administration, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R.; funding acquisition, Á.B.-G. and D.Á.-R. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This article was funded by the Ministerio de Universidades (Spain) Ayudas para la Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU), grant number FPU21/05700, as part of a predoctoral research project. Besides, this research project was funded by State Investigation Agency, grant number “PID2019-106539RB100” and by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and State Investigation Agency, grant number “PDC2022-133460-I00”.

Data Availability Statement

No new data were created. The analyzed video elicitations are openly and voluntarily displayed online and can be found on the website (accessed on 30 November 2023).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Descriptive sequence of the first collective video essay.
Figure 1. Descriptive sequence of the first collective video essay.
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Figure 2. Descriptive sequence of the second collective video essay.
Figure 2. Descriptive sequence of the second collective video essay.
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Figure 3. Descriptive sequence of the third collective video essay.
Figure 3. Descriptive sequence of the third collective video essay.
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Figure 4. Descriptive sequence of the fourth collective video essay.
Figure 4. Descriptive sequence of the fourth collective video essay.
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Figure 5. Descriptive sequence of the final combined video essay.
Figure 5. Descriptive sequence of the final combined video essay.
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Figure 6. Descriptive sequence of the final combined video essay in black and white.
Figure 6. Descriptive sequence of the final combined video essay in black and white.
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Figure 7. Screenshot of the body-camera website.
Figure 7. Screenshot of the body-camera website.
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Figure 8. Screenshot of the body-camera website.
Figure 8. Screenshot of the body-camera website.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Barrera-García, Á.; Álvarez-Rodríguez, D. The Body-Camera Approach: Teacher Identity through Video Elicitation and Video Essay to Create Shared Heritages. Heritage 2024, 7, 2055-2070.

AMA Style

Barrera-García Á, Álvarez-Rodríguez D. The Body-Camera Approach: Teacher Identity through Video Elicitation and Video Essay to Create Shared Heritages. Heritage. 2024; 7(4):2055-2070.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Barrera-García, Ángela, and Dolores Álvarez-Rodríguez. 2024. "The Body-Camera Approach: Teacher Identity through Video Elicitation and Video Essay to Create Shared Heritages" Heritage 7, no. 4: 2055-2070.

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