The methodologies used in this research are grounded in both social constructivism and a transformative framework. The individuals participating in this research were meant to seek an understanding of the world they live in, their current situation, and their own spatial-temporal setting based on socio-political and cultural realities. On the other hand, the research meant to aid those individuals with taking action towards changing those realities. Through action research formed around stop-motion animation workshops, the participants had an opportunity to freely express themselves, speak about their experiences, and gain new knowledge and skillsets. The research combined elements of action research, autoethnographic study, and philosophical inquiry through a combination of content analysis, interviews with workshop participants, freelance animators, educators, and art therapists, as well as observation and documentation of my own experiences as an immigrant, animator, and educator.
I worked with three separate groups, creating animation workshops within the pre-existing structures of after-school and community programs. The first workshop took place weekly, over a four month period at Asian Human Services, an immigrant-support organization; I worked with 5 to 10 adult participants who, as a team, created one animated short. The second workshop became a long-term project with six 10 to 12-year-olds at Western Avenue Community Center, a bilingual after-school community center, where students met weekly for two semesters, creating multiple animations–some individually–some as a group. The third workshop was conducted as a week-long project with six students at Boys and Girls Club, an after-school program where I was working as a program specialist. In this context, my research deepened through working with one twelve-year-old male participant who had recently immigrated from Congo. (For the purpose of protecting his identity, I refer to him as M.)
Each animation session was designed to foster cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of learning, which students explored through watching, creating, and discussing the final animation they produced. Each participant’s experience was documented through a series of audio and video interviews prior, during and after the workshop. The individuals were asked about their expectations, challenges they might have faced throughout the process, and their overall analysis of the workshops and animation process. In addition, I interviewed three selected professionals in the fields of art education and art therapy for an in-depth understanding of the results.