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Title:

AN OVERVIEW OF SENSE-MAKING RESEARCH:
CONCEPTS, METHODS, AND RESULTS TO DATE

by:

Brenda Dervin

Presented at:


International Communication Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, USA, May l983

Notes:
This 1983 presentation of the Sense-Making approach is now out of date but still provides a foundation for interested readers. For more up-to-date works, see the various bibliographic listings on this on-line site.

Page numbers of the original paper are noted for citation purposes.

This article is 1983, 1997 by Brenda Dervin. Interested parties may use with appropriate citation any of the methods or approaches described herein. The methods or ideas may not be used for commercial gain without the expressed permission of the author.

This document located on-line. Cite as:
Dervin, B. (1983). An overview of sense-making research: Concepts, methods and results. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dallas, TX, May. [On-line]. Available: http://communication.sbs.ohio-state.edu/sense-making/art/artdervin83.html


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Purpose.....................................................................................  3
Roots.........................................................................................  3
Core conceptual premises..........................................................  4
Current Sense-Making model....................................................  9
Methods of data collection.........................................................  10
Sense-Making variables.............................................................  14
Work to date..............................................................................  18
Practice inventions.....................................................................  25
Research agenda........................................................................  27

Appendix A: Examples of various approaches to Sense-Making Interviewing.................  28
Appendix B: Overview of the various dimensions tapped to represent situations-gaps-uses.............................................................................................................  59
Appendix C: What respondents learned and what interviewers learned...............................  66
Notes.................................................................................................................................... 68
References............................................................................................................................ 69


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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the Sense-Making approach to research--its assumptions, methods, and results to date. The intent is to provide this overview in a semi-outline form to facilitate its speedy use by the reader. No attempt is made in this paper to fully document all studies done using the Sense-Making approach to date of the extensive literature reviews on which development of the approach has been based. This extensive documentation is included in an upcoming book entitled THE HUMAN SIDE OF INFORMATION: PERSPECTIVES FOR COMMUNICATING and in briefer form in a series of papers and reports published to date. (1)

Roots
The term "Sense-Making" is a label for a coherent set of concepts and methods used in a now 8-year programmatic effort to study how people construct sense of their worlds and, in particular, how they construct information needs and uses for information in the process of sense-making. Since sense-making is central to all communicating situations, (whether they be intra-personal, interpersonal, mass, cross-cultural, societal, or inter-national) the Sense-Making approach is seen as having wide applicability.

In the most general sense, sense-making (that which is the focus of study in the Sense-Making approach) is defined as behavior, both internal (i.e. cognitive) and external (i.e. procedural) which allows the individual to construct and design his/her movement through time-space. Sense-making
behavior, thus, is communicating behavior. Information seeking and use is central to sense-making (as it similarly is seen as central to all communicating) but what is meant by these terms is radically different than what is typically meant in the positivistic tradition. (2)

The Sense-Making concepts and methods will be detailed below. The purpose of this section is to describe Sense-Making's philosophic and espistemological roots. What is most unusual about the Sense-Making approach is that it can not be easily labeled in terms of its allegiance to one or another currently accepted research thrust. Rather, it stands between some traditional, frequently illusionary and restraining polarities.

If one thinks of the stereotypic model of so-called quantitative empirical inquiry, one thinks in such terms as mechanistic, static, neutral, absolutist, analytic, and, above all, positivistic. If, on the other hand, one thinks of the stereotypic model of so-called qualitative inquiry, one thinks in such terms as humanistic, dynamic, relativistic, contextually-bound, involved, constructivistic, holistic. Sense-Making research, however, rests of concepts and methods which are clearly quantitative and analytic and yet can be described with all attributes usually reserved only for qualitative inquiry.

In terms of allegiance to existing work, Sense-Making owes its debt to the writings of:


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Core conceptual premises
The Sense-Making approach rests on a set of core theoretic premises. These premises have been described in different ways in various of the past works. This listing below represents the most recent and most detailed attempt to date. As a set, the premises present baseline assumptions about the nature of reality, the human relationship to that reality, the nature of information, human seeking of and use of information, the nature of communicating, and the most useful ways to research communicating behavior. (8)


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constrained, Sense-Making further assumes that all information is subjective. The term "constrained" is used purposely. "Biased" is not used because it assumes an external standard against which the observings can be judged. "Limited" is not used because it assumes that the observing is trapped, unable to be responsive to changing conditions and break out of old patterns of structures. Clearly, if observing were trapped in this way, there would be no invention. And, certainly, those who try to differentiate humans from other species frequently include among the most telling human characteristics, the human capacities to invent, create, and respond flexibly to changing conditions. The constraints on human observing are seen as four-fold.

1) The limitations on human physiology. As a species, we appear at this point in our collective history, at least to be unable to make some observations of which other species are capable.

2) The limitation of present time-space. Since it is assumed that we are all bound in time-space, what we can observe at a given moment is constrained by where we are.

3) The limitation of past time-space. We come from different histories and our observations today rest, at least in part, on our pasts. In one sense, our historical differences account for our great species variety and enable us, via communicating, to achieve fuller pictures of the "circle of reality" enriched by wider spectrums of observations. In a second sense, our past-time space can rigidify (become frozen time-space) when, as much literature in psychotherapy suggests, our past experiences lead us to treat present time-space as identical to the past.

4) The limitation of future time-space. We are going to different places and our observations today rest, at least in part on where we focus in the future. In addition, the general discontinuity principle suggests that our observations today apply only to today and not to tomorrow.


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sense of messages. Thus, Sense-Making searches for patterns in how people construct sense rather than for mechanistic input-output relationships. Sense-Making observes rather than assumes connections between situations and information needs, between information exposed to and uses.


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The idea of a truly responsive information system designed to serve user needs is actualized primarily at the expense of individual professional burn-out. Information systems (whether mandated to collect, store, retrieve, or disseminate information) all rest on expertise-transmission assumptions and, thus, are not supported by institutionalized structures and procedures for what Sense-Making calls information sharing and use--i.e. the successive constructings and reconstructings of sense. While much is said about the need for "bottom-up" communication system designs, little is known systematically about their implementation.


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Current Sense-Making model
The Sense-Making approach, when implemented in both research designs and applications at this point in time, rests on the following model:


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Current model used in Sense-Making studies.


SITUATIONS-------GAPS-------USES





Sense-Making studies and applications, thus, have all incorporated two or more of the following:

SITUATIONS: The time-space contexts at which sense is constructed.

GAPS: The gaps seen as needing bridging, translated in most studies as "information needs" or the questions people have as construct sense and move through time-space.

USES: The uses to which the individual puts newly created sense, translated in most studies as information helps and hurts.


The SITUATIONS-GAPS-USES model is derived directly from conceptual premises stated above.


SITUATIONS are included because it is posited that sense-making is situational.

GAPS are included because they are assumed to be what sense-making is all about.

USES are included because Sense-Making focuses on constructing and does not assume a mechanistic connection between information and use.


Each of the three dimensions labeled above identifies a category of variables. The specific conceptual and operational definitions of typical measures in each category will be described in a later section below and are listed in Appendix B.

Further elaborations have been developed for each of the three dimensions but in all studies the above has formed the core focus. The model has also been extended to practice situations as well. The use of "three" dimensions has been seen as particularly appropriate both in the realm of practice as well as research because it involves "triangulating" subjectivity. The idea here is that since different people create sense differently, when one attempts to understand the sense made by another, it is useful to assess three points as a minimal basis for co-orienting.


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Further, the Sense-Making model assumes that the three-points specified in the Sense-Making model are examples of the kind of "universals" specified in the conceptual premises. Thus, it is stated as assumption that people who are sense-making have gaps in situations and assess the value of information, regardless of how constructed, in terms of the uses to which they can put it.

Methods of data collection
A major portion of the effort in developing the Sense-Making approach to date has been directed to the invention of alternative means for interviewing respondents. A variety of techniques have been developed . They can be summarized as four techniques with variations.

Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview
This is the core technique of the Sense-Making approach. It involves asking a respondent to detail what happened in a situation step-by-step in terms of what happened first, second, and so on. Then, for each step (called a Time-Line step), the respondent is asked what questions he or she had, what things he/she needed to find out, learn, come to understand, unconfuse, or make sense of. These two elements form the core of the Time-Line. In-depth analyses are then of each question asked as mandated by study purposes.

Micro-Moment Time-Line Interviews have been applied in a wide variety of contexts. Examples included in Appendix A are:

Each application of the Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview involves its own adjustments. What all have in common is an attempt to secure from the respondent a description of at least two dimensions of the three-part SITUATIONS-GAPS-USES model and to do so in such a way that the data for each dimension is tied to a micro-moment, a specific situational moment in the time-space.


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To illustrate this, a description of the structure of the most detailed use of the technique will help. For the l982 study of cancer patients (Dervin, Nilan, Kranz, and Wittet l982), each patient was instructed as follows:

1. To select a situation during their chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

2. To describe what happened first in that situation and to list the questions he/she had at that step. To then describe what happened second and list questions for that step. To continue this process through all Time-Line steps. In this process, the interviewer recorded Time-Line steps on blue file cards and the accompanying questions on white file cards, one per card.

3. To then collect and shuffle the question cards if 9 or more questions resulted and to select eight randomly for in-depth analysis.

4. To then describe each of the up to eight questions on the following dimensions (abbreviated below, see EXAMPLE #1 in Appendix A for full details).

Situation measures

a) What were you trying to do when you asked this question?

b) Did you see yourself as blocked or hindered when you asked this question? How?

c) Is there anything else you can tell us that explains why you asked this question.

Gaps measures

d) Did this question stand alone or was it related to other questions? How?

e) How many other people in similar situations would ask?

f) How easy did it seem to get an answer? Why?

g) Did the ease change? How? Why?

h) How important was getting an answer?

i ) Did the importance ever change? How? Why?

j ) Did you ask the question out loud? If no, why not?

k) Did you get an answer? When?

l ) Was the answer complete or partial? Why?

m) How did you get an answer?

Uses measures

n) Did you expect the answer to help? If got answer: did it help in ways expected or other ways?

o) Did you expect the answer to hurt? If got answer: did it hurt in ways expected or other ways?

For this application, then, each of eight questions was analyzed in extensive detail. In other studies (EXAMPLES #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) all questions (no matter how many) were analyzed in detail.


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Variations on the detailed Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview format described above are shown in other examples:

Helps/Hurts Chaining
The primary way in which uses has been operationalized in Sense-Making research has been in terms of how respondents have seen information as helping (facilitating) or hurting (blocking). In the early stages, it was simplistically assumed that one of two questions to the respondent would elicit their helps/hurts and show how they constructed the connection between the message and its use for them. The data, however, had its own inductive force and, as a result, two alternative techniques have been developed both of which involve chaining helps or hurts. Briefly, what this means is asking the respondent to show how each successive help related to yet another help. If a respondent says, for example, that a TV show helped him relax, the interviewer asks "And, how did that help?" Respondents are instructed to end the chaining at any time where they think it ends. The two versions of chaining include:

Of the two methods, respondent and interviewer reports suggest that #l3 is more valid but that #12 has its utility particularly in situations where interviewing brevity is required and where information uses are more straightforward. Specific study of these issues is on the Sense-Making research agenda.

Close-ended Sense-Making Interview
After eight years of entirely open-ended research, it was decided that enough inductive work had been done to develop a close-ended approach to data collection specifically for hypothesis testing


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situations. In using this close-ended instrument, respondents are first asked to anchor themselves in terms of a real-life situation. This can be either a Micro-Moment or a Total Situation. The former, of course, is preferred in the context of Sense-Making premises. In one variation, a total Time-Line is elicited and then respondents are asked to focus on only the "most important" step. Or, in another variation, a set of parameters for choosing a situation are given to the respondent (for example, chose a recent situation in which you saw yourself as facing a barrier, being of higher status than others, and having open communication available to you).

After focusing on a real-life situation, respondents are usually asked to describe the situation briefly and give their reasons for selecting it to meet the criteria. This step allows checks to be made of whether respondents used criteria in the same way as the researchers.

At this point, respondents are asked to rate on scales from 1 to 7 the extent to which they saw themselves in the designated situation as seeing the situation in specific ways, having specific questions, and wanting specific helps. The close-ended items for situation perceptions questions-helps are all derived from the many content analyses done on other data bases. An example of a Close-Ended Sense-Making Interview is included as EXAMPLE #l4 in Appendix A.

Message Q/ing Interview
For this technique, the Sense-Making approach is combined with Carter's stopping technique (Carter, Ruggels, Jackson, and Heffner l983) in order to tap sense-making during printed message reading. In the use of this technique, respondents are asked to read a message and stop everywhere they have a question (i.e. something they want to learn, understand, make sense of, unconfuse, or find out). The point of their stop is indicated in the text with a / as is standard in Carter's stopping. Then, an in-depth analysis is conducted of each question asked. Typical dimensions have included assessments of the questions connection to the respondent's life situations, rating of question importance, judgments of whether the question is ever answered in the message, judgments of the completeness of the answer, and reports of expected and actual helps and hurts from answers. An example of Message Q/ing is included as EXAMPLE #l5 in Appendix A.

Regardless of the specific data collecting technique uses, all Sense-Making data collection approaches share some features in common.


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techniques require. Favorable responses have been obtained even for close-ended approaches. Sample comments are included in Appendix C.

Sense-Making variables
As noted above, the Sense-Making model focus on three classes of measures: SITUATIONS -GAPS -USES. The primary concern in constructing measures in each class to date has been to identify dimensions of sense-making that are useful and valid and as content-free (in the sense suggested above) as possible. The focus has varied in each of the three classes.

SITUATIONS. The concern in this class has been to identify the different ways in which respondents see situations that predict information seeking (i.e. question asking, gap seeing) and information uses (i.e. helps/hurts). OVERVIEW #l in Appendix B lists all the different situational measures used to date. These include:


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Appendix B includes definitions of each. Of these measures, the one most central to Sense-Making approaches to date has been Situation Movement State--a measure that taps the different qualitative ways in which the respondent sees his/her movement through time-space blocked. Sense-Making assumes that it is movement blocks that give rise to question-asking (i.e. information seeking). The different Situation Movement States are all seen as different ways of being stopped in movement through time-space. For example, being stopped at a decision point means having two or more roads ahead and needing to reduce them to one. Or, being stopped a problematic point means seeing self as being dragged down a road not of one's own choosing. Or, being stopped at a barrier is knowing where you want to go but having someone or something standing in the way. Appendix B includes definitions of each of the Situation Movement States.

Most situation variables in Sense-Making have been measured using close-ended scales, even in the contest of the highly open-ended Time-Line Interview. The one exception to this is Situation Movement State which has been measured primarily using standard content analytic procedures. Here, coders take the respondents verbal answers to such questions as (What happened? What led up to your asking this question? What blocked or hindered you?" and translate them into one of the theoretically defined Situation Movement States.

A second way in which Situation Movement State has been measured is with a series of close-ended scales. Here, respondents are asked to assess the extent to which their situation fits each of the movement state pictures.

A final way in which Situation Movement State has been measured has been to train respondents in the definitions of each of the States and have them essentially do their own coding. Further investigation of this approach is high on the Sense-Making research agenda.

GAPS. For this class of measures, there have been two main thrusts of emphasis. One has been in developing a series of content analysis schemes for coding the nature of questions people ask. The other has been for developing the set of auxiliary measures focusing on respondent gaps. Both of these groups of measures are listed in OVERVIEW #2, Appendix B.


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For the emphasis on identifying the nature of respondent questions, a series of highly tested and reliable content analysis templates have been developed. Used in most of the studies have been:


In addition, data in most of the applied studies have been used to develop a descriptive focus scheme for questions detailing the specific content areas for which respondents see gaps in that particular research context. Recent work has also used the now eight years of findings to develop a close-ended list of questions for close-ended studies.

Attempts have been made to develop the measures of the nature of gaps to adhere consistently to the general theoretic perspective . Thus, it was reasoned in developing the theoretic content analysis scheme, that human beings mandated to make sense in an ever-changing time-space will have specific kinds of generic questions because of that mandate. The theoretic templates are the attempt to tap these generic questions, measurable for specific situations but theoretically applicable across situations.

The additional gap-related measures all attempt to detail the nature of information seeking processes and success for different kinds of questions. Specific measures included to date have been:


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The entire set of measures has rarely all been used in a given study. As a set, however, they allow the researcher to look at such questions as: What kinds of questions are least likely to be seen as answered? What barriers do people see to getting answers? What are the bases people use for judging answers as good in different situations?

USES. The final class of variables has, to date, actually consisted of only two measures--the nature of hurts and the nature of helps. Both hurts and helps are defined by Sense-Making as the uses made of information. Until recently, all helps/hurts were measured using content analysis based on a theoretically-guided scheme. This scheme is described in OVERVIEW #3 in Appendix. Basically, it codes a help (or hurt) in terms of how it facilitates (or blocks) a persons picture-making (seen as required for movement), movement, and gaining of desired ends.

The scheme is used in different forms in different studies. The most detailed recent list of major categories of helps/hurts includes the following (stated here as helps):


In very recent work, a close-ended list of helps/hurts has been used as rating scales asking respondents to judge the extent to which they expected each help/hurt and the extent to which they actually experienced each help/hurt.


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Work to date
The published articles, chapters, and available institutional reports produced using the Sense-Making approach have now begun to form a substantial body of work. They fall into two classes. One includes theoretic and critical essays addressing issues raised in the first sections of this paper. These works detail the assumptions of Sense-Making, the roots from which it came, and the reasons why it developed as it did. Because these pieces all build on each other, they do not need to be described individually except in the briefest way. This list includes all of the non-redundant pieces:

The second class of published and available work involves the empirical studies. These include:

a) Respondents saw information as a means rather than an end. They didn't describe their troublesome situations as information gaps, they didn't focus on information


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acquisition as an end in itself. Rather, information seeking and use was seen as a means for moving.

b) Respondents saw information as that which informs. Answers came internally as well as externally. So-called "subjective" questions were as prevalent as so-called objective ones. Information was needed for situations without resolutions as well as for situations with resolutions. Most questions related to self or others rather than merely "fact-finding" independent of people. Question asking continued even after situation resolution.

c) Respondents informed themselves when and where they could. Tactics for bridging the same gap changed over time. Respondents used a wide variety of gap-bridging tactics, with the expected high emphasis on informal networks and low emphasis on formal networks. This latter finding was interpreted not as proof that people won't use formal systems but rather as indication that formal systems as they are now designed do not intersect well with gap-bridging needs.

d) Respondents informed themselves in the context of time-space bound situations. A variety of situational measures emerged as predictive of information seeking and use.

e) Respondents assessed information usefulness in a variety of ways, including not only the traditional posited making decisions and making progress but less frequently seen uses such as getting support, gaining self-control, and so on.


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version of Situation Movement State as a predictor and early versions of Nature of Questions Asked and Nature of Helps Obtained as criterions. The study hypothesized and found significant relationships between the Situation Movement State measure and the two criterions. Each Situation Movement State was shown to have its own complexion of emphasis on questions and uses. Highlights of the findings included:

* In general, when in Decision Movement States, respondents reported asking more questions about choices. In contrast, when in Worry States, respondents asked more questions about the states of their bodies, the nature of treatments, and the reasons for states of their bodies. Barrier States, on the other hand, yielded more questions about the reasons for treatment and impacts on life.

* In general, when in Decision Movement States, respondents reported getting more helps from information by identifying options, finding directions, planning, and arriving. In Worry States they reported more use of getting away from bad feelings and seeing the road ahead helps. Barrier States also showed more use of this last use while Observing States reported more use of avoiding bad roads ahead.


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terms of different time definitions. The question was what kinds of measures would predict information uses (i.e. helps) best: a group of seven Demographic measures (defined as tapping across time-space); six a prior: situational measures (defined as tapping time space at the point of entry into the communication situation): and time-space bound situational measures including six measures of situational perceptions and six measures of the nature of gaps seen (i.e. questions). It was hypothesized and found that the time-space bound measures accounted for more variance in information uses than either across time-space or a prior time-space measures. Results showed that time-space bound measures accounted for l7.4% of variance in information uses on the average compared to l.7 % and l.6% respectively for across time-space and a prior: Time-space measures. It was also hypothesized that of the two classes of time-space bound measures, gaps measures would be stronger predictors than other situational characteristic measures because gap measures speak more directly to the essence of sense-making. Results supported the hypothesis. Gap measures accounted for l5.3% on the average compared to only 2.l% for other situational measures. The study, thus, provided evidence of the ways in which different uses are used to assess the effectiveness of gap-bridging for different kinds of questions. Typical of these specific findings were:

a) When respondents reported using "got pictures" as their means for assessing the use of answers to questions, they were significantly more likely to have done so if they had asked a "where am I now" question and questions about the state of their own bodies or the nature of blood processing.

b) When respondents reported using "got started/going" as their use for answers, they were significantly more likely to have done so if they asked "where will I be questions" and answers focusing on their own self-control and bodies.

c) When respondents reported using "avoided a bad situation" as their use, they were significantly more likely to have done so if they asked questions before donating, questions about paid, and questions about the donating process.


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asked at each Time-Line step (5W Focus); whether question was asked out loud or silently; when question was answered; source of answer; and helps obtained from answer. Results suggested that Situation Movement State was a stronger predictor of the nature of questions asked and helps while program type was a stronger predictor of sources used.

* Frequently asked questions focused more on the future.

* Most emphasized questions were those that involved self.

* Hardest questions to answer were seen as those involving the future of those that focused on understanding the connections between different time-space points and evaluating events.

* Questions least completely answered were why questions.

* Questions most completely answered were those involving exclusively personal assessments.


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helpfulness-hurtfulness of different kinds of questions. Results showed significant differences between question types. Highlights of specific findings included:

* One notable finding showed an ebb and flow in sense-making such that attention turned to underlying issues (philosophical questions, understandings whys) only when situational conditions permitted this kind of attention).

* Why questions were seen at least important in this study, the most difficult to get answers to, and the least likely to be reported as answered.

* Good road questions were seen as more important than either neutral or bad road questions.

* Questions without any involvement of self or others (i.e. questions about processes and objects seen as unconnected to one's own situations) were judged as least likely to have helpful answers.

Across the studies to date, there have been some consistencies in analytic approaches which deserve mention.

THE USE OF UNITS OF ANALYSIS SMALLER THAN THE PERSON.
Conceptually, Sense-Making posits that sense-making behaviors are responsive to situational conditions and should not be predicted based on across time-space measures. This premise has been supported with the consistent results showing situation as a more powerful predictor of information seeking and use as defined by Sense-Making. Sense-Making has also relied heavily on other work which has supported the notion that respondent consistencies do not account for significant variance in information seeking. While some Sense-Making studies have used the person as the unit of analysis (i.e. Atwood and Dervin l982), this has resulted from the fact that each person had only one question as mandated by the study design. In all other studies, the question asked or the sense-making instance has been the unit of analysis in order to allow respondents to create their own context and be different in different contexts. The open-ended procedures used for most Sense-Making work to date have also prevented any explicit statistical comparison of the power of respondent differences in accounting for variance versus situational differences. This test is now being performed for a study using the Close-Ended Sense-Making Interview (Nilan l983, Nilan and Dervin l983). This approach allows the researcher to obtain situational data from the same respondent for a verity of prescribed situational conditions and thus permits an explicit test of situation versus respondent.


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HIGH EMPHASIS ON DESCRIPTIVE, INDUCTIVE WORK.
Even in studies with hypotheses, Sense-Making studies have universally placed heavy emphasis on describing the results of data collection in inductive ways in order to enrich and provide direction for future work.

HIGH EMPHASIS ON TESTING DATA COLLECTING, MEASURING, AND CODING TECHNIQUES.
Appropriately, to date, most of the effort in Sense-Making has been focused on developing and refining data collecting, measuring, and coding approaches. The Micro-Moment Time-Line, for example, has gone through a number of transformations until its recent stabilization. The dimensions of situations, gaps, and uses tapped with explicit questions and either close-ended measurement or content analysis have also gone through transformations.


USE OF RELATIVELY SIMPLE STATISTICAL PRESENTATIONS.
The reason for this is the conclusion that statistical clarity is necessary to support and enrich conceptual clarity and that frequently unuseful conceptualizations are hidden in overly elaborate statistical presentations.


Looking at the studies in terms of their contributions to date, these can be summarized in five ways. Each of these will be described briefly below and illustrated with one or two examples.


THEY SUPPORT THE SENSE-MAKING THEORETIC PREMISES.
All the studies, to date, have provided support for the core Sense -Making premises. They, for example, show consistently that people assess the effectiveness of the answers they get to questions (i.e. information) in personal terms rather than in terms of objective information processing.

THEY CONTRADICT SOME OLD MYTHS.
One prevalent myth, well documented in the past literature, is that the amount of information seeking and use of citizens, even highly educated ones, is low. The Sense-Making studies, on the other hand, show so-much Sense-Making activity that the research approaches are sometimes hard-put to deal with it all.

THEY FREQUENTLY FIT COMMON-SENSE EXPECTATIONS.
It might be said that the hardest conclusions to reach are sometimes the simplest in retrospect. This is an assessment that can be easily made about many Sense-Making findings. It might be said, for example, that: "Of course, people ask different questions at different points as they proceed through a situation;" or "Of course, why questions are harder to answer." It must be remembered, however, that while the findings often pass the test of common sense, they remain findings that prior research approaches have not been able to engender.


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THEY CONFIRM WHERE THE SYSTEM PUTS ITS SENSE-MAKING EMPHASIS.
As part of the ways in which Sense-Making studies have supported their own theoretic premises, they have also confirmed the expectations of those premises for the usefulness in sense-making of current communication systems. One example is the heavy emphasis in the Sense-Making studies on "why" questions and the empirically proven lack of emphasis on such questions in current information systems. Another example is the consistent use by respondents of positive uses for answers -- feeling good about self, getting hope, being able to continue, feeling happy. This contrasts with evidence showing that consistently our communication systems emphasize the disastrous, sad, and negative. Another is the findings showing that topic focus and assumed use do not predict question asking or answer using. This contradicts the almost exclusive use in our communication systems of topic (e.g. national news, local news) or assumed use (e.g. entertainment, information) for organizing information.

THEY PROVIDE DIRECTION FOR PRACTICE.
Both the theoretic and descriptive findings provide specific directions for communication practice. They, for example, pinpoint for practitioners what kinds of questions respondents need answers to and what kinds of uses they want to put these answers to. They also pinpoint for the practitioner the time-space points at which the respondents are most likely to be asking specific kinds of questions. They also show where the current system is not meeting sense-making needs.

Practice inventions
Both the theoretic premises of the Sense-Making studies and the findings have been used as the basis for three practice inventions currently being used in actual communication systems. Testing the helpfulness of these inventions is on the Sense-Making research agenda.


NEUTRAL QUESTIONING.
Neutral-Questioning is an interpersonal communicating tactic derived from these Sense-Making premises: that sense-making is situational; and that focusing on the assumed to be universals of movement through time-space and the mandate to bridge gaps allows one person to assess dimensions of the perspective of another universally applicable to sense-making. Neutral-Questioning directs the communicator to ask others three classes of questions which are content free except in their allegiance to time-space premises. Examples of these questions are:

To tap situations : What happened? What led you to this place? What blocks or hinders you?

To tap gaps: What questions do you have? What confuses you? What do you need to make sense of? What holes exist in your understanding?


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To tap uses: What help would you like? What would you like to see happen? What's your aim?

Practice in the use of Neutral-Questioning has been systematically given to a variety of professionals: primarily librarians, and doctors. No explicit test has been conducted yet but informal reports suggest that after the initial shock of the change, professionals find the tactic allows them to communicate more effectively and efficiently at the same time. As one reference librarian put it: "I've been able to find out in two minutes with Neutral-Questioning what it would have taken l5 minutes or more to determine using the traditional approach to the reference interview." This statement, which needs explicit study, of course, contradicts one of the most-often stated assumptions in the field of communications -- that effective communication always takes more time.

THE INFOSHEET.
This practice invention also is derived from Sense-Making theoretic premises and its finding which suggest that in order to make effective sense people: need to receive information that is transmitted subjectively (i.e. anchored in the situations-gaps-uses of the sources); and need to get a picture of the different senses different people have made in a variety of situations to so they can locate themselves (i.e. allows them to circle reality and locate themselves within it). These premises lead to the conclusion that in media products more than one source should be used, sources should be maximally different and not defined simply as experts, and that information from sources should be rooted in their time-space. Infosheets have been designed for a doctor's office, a school system, and a medical clinic and are being developed for a variety of library settings. All Infosheet development starts with some kind of Time-Line interviews with intended audience members. After audience questions are determined, an Infosheet is constructed to address one or more questions. Sources who give answers to the question are solicited from a wide spectrum of individuals involved in, effected by, or knowledgeable about the situational context. Sources are asked how they would answer the question, what led them to construct that answer, and how the answer helps them. Contradictions in source's answers are referred back to sources so they can explain their views of what led to the contradictions existing. An example, one Infosheet developed for parents of exceptional children in a school system focused on the most asked question of parents: "what makes a child exceptional?" Answers were obtained using the guidelines above from "experts," from parents, from both so-called exceptional and not exceptional children. While no explicit test has been done to date, users of Infosheets have universally reported them interesting and useful.


Page 27

GOOD NEWS NEWS PAPER.
As a result of the consistent emphasis in the findings on good and hopeful uses of answers to questions, the GOOD NEWS NEWSPAPER was designed. The only example to date focused on the University of Washington community. Communication students interviewed other students, faculty, and staff asking them: What's one thing you really like about being a member of the UW community? What's the thing you've accomplished recently at UW that you are most proud of? What's an instance when someone at UW really helped you in a time of need? Representative selections of these responses are being compiled in a UW GOOD NEWS NEWSPAPER. Again, no test has been made. However, the would-be journalists who did the interviewing and constructing of the paper and the students readers exposed to it so far have been enthusiastic.

Research agenda
While Sense-Making studies and essays first emerged in l975-l976, now eight years later, there is still the feeling of being at a beginning, even if the beginning is now infinitely more complex. Each Sense-Making study has raised more questions than it has answered. Each step points to more need for development, more potential applications, more tests. A detailed research agenda will be published in the upcoming book (Dervin l984). For purposes of this paper, the research agenda can be summarized as involving seven thrusts of activity:

1) Systematic tests of the testable Sense-Making premises.

2) A series of explicit tests of respondent versus situation as predictors of sense-making.

3) The development and use of more traditionally qualitative methods of analysis in order to tap the richness of the Micro-Moment Time Line Interviews.

4) The continued development and refinement of content analysis schemes to tap nature of situations, questions, and uses as well as barriers to sense-making, bases for judging answers as complete incomplete, and gap-bridging strategies.

5) The continued development and refinement of training approaches which allow respondents to classify their own responses in the context of researcher templates.

6) The continued development and refinement of the Close-Ended Sense-Making Interview, particularly with application to micro-moments.

7) The evaluation of the usefulness of practice inventions in actual communication systems.


Page 28


APPENDIX A


EXAMPLES OF VARIOUS APPROACHES TO SENSE-MAKING INTERVIEWING


Page 29

EXAMPLE #1



Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1982 study of cancer patients.
________________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 82 cancer patients treated at the University of Washington Hospitals selected using stratified disproportionate random selection procedures. The stratification variable was radiation vs chemotherapy treatment. In-person interviews took an average of 150 minutes with a range from 30-420.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to focus on a situation during his/her chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment. The entire Time-Line was elicited: what happened first? what questions did you have? what happened next? what questions did you have? and so on. Time-Line steps were written on white file cards, and each question on blue cards, keyed to time line step #. Then, up to 8 Qs were analyzed in depth. If an R was more than 8, he/she was asked to shuffle the cards on which the Qs were listed and randomly select 8. Dimensions for the in-depth analysis of the 8 questions are identified briefly below in terms of what the respondent was asked to elicit responses. This is not the entire format of the Time-Line interview used because different respondents went different paths depending on their earlier responses. What follows is the structure for this one respondent.

CITATIONS: Dervin, Nilan, Krenz and Wittet 1982

EXCERPT: What follows below is an excerpt from the Time-Line (consisting of descriptions of Time-Line steps accompanied by their questions). This is followed by complete transcripts of the in-depth analyses of two questions. Respondent is a 46 year old female chemotherapy patient with 14 years of education.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME-LINE
STEP 1: Each time before the treatments we got up and I fixed breakfast for everyone.

Q1: Why am I going in again when I am going to feel awful?


STEP 2: My husband took me to the U District to my friend's house on his way back to work and we picked places to go because my treatments were around noon.

Q1: Why am I letting myself get ill even before the chemotherapy treatments?

STEP 3: I would go and stick my arm out and they couldn't find a vein and they would poke and poke and I would try to be big about it. They made me feel insecure by sending me from the chemo nurse to the blood lab because the technicians there didn't seem professional.

Q1: Why am I going through this?
Q2: When my blood count was low and they put off the treatment would this mean this would stretch out longer than a year?
Q3: Have they ruined my arm?
Q4: Do these people know what they are doing?

(SKIPPING DOWN TO THE LAST STEP)


Page 30

STEP 11: They cut back my dosage and I was able to start school in the fall.

Q1: Will this do as much good?
Q2: Why did I quit menstruating?

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP2

Q: Why am I letting myself get ill even before the chemotherapy treatment?

What were you trying to do (cope with, understand, accomplish, figure out, survive, endure, tolerate) when you asked this question?

I suppose I was trying to talk myself out of it to convince myself that I wasn't going to feel this way each time as I walked through those doors; that I was going to be able to overcome that nausea and that upset that started the minute I got there. And then too I guess I always felt a little sorry for myself and that's why I suppose I got that way because I knew it was in the back of my mind you are going to do to this poor thing and I would remember how it was the month before and how much it hurts. I don't really know why I was asking this question except that I did.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you see yourself as blocked or hindered in any way when you asked this question?
How?

Yes. My normal life by then was kind of a mess. I was barely able to function at home. I had given up my schooling, my bowling was terrible, I dropped some of the things I did outside. Yeah, I guess I would say I was hindered. My normal life that I had lived for years and years and years was just a mess. I wasn't able to do hardly anything.

_______________________________________________________________________
Is there anything else you could tell us that explains why you asked this question?

As I was saying, up to this point I have been very healthy and my family was very healthy and it was just really hard for me to accept this fact that I felt sick all the time when I was so used to always feeling well, and I didn't like and there wasn't anything I could do about it. And I marched in there every month to do something that made me sick and when you are normally a person who feels good it is just really hard to accept that. That you are going to be sick every day and I suppose that was part of it. That really irritated me; and made me mad and it kind of got into my mind and it bothered me and the next thing I knew I felt lousy.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did this question stand alone or was it related to other questions?

Stood alone.

_______________________________________________________________________
If other people were in a situation like this, how many of them do you think would ask this same question in their minds? All/A lot/About half/Just a few/None.

A lot.


Page 31

_______________________________________________________________________
How easy did it seem to get an answer to this question? (Scale: 1 = very hard to 10 = very easy). Why did you see it this way?

5
Because after turning it over a few times I finally decided that I was allowing this to happen just because I was focusing in on the pain and the discomfort and it made me sick. It was never a thing I ever answered for myself. I wasn't able to overcome the feelings as I went in there.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did getting an answer ever seem harder or easier (Same/harder/easier)
(If harder or easier) Where did it move on scale?
(If harder or easier) Why did it change?

Same as before.

_______________________________________________________________________
How important was getting an answer to this question at the time when you asked it in your mind? (Scale: 1 = very unimportant to 10 = very important). Why did you see it this way?


2
Because I felt I was caught up in a situation I couldn't do anything about. I was committed and it didn't matter whether I had an answer to the question. I was going to do it.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did getting an answer ever seem more or less important? (same/less/more)
(If more or less) Where did it move on the scale?
(If more or less) Why did it change?

Same as before.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you actually ask this question out loud at this time?
(If no) Why?

No.
It was just a rumbling at first.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you ever ask this question out loud?

Yes.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer to this question at this time?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you ever get an answer to this question?

Yes.

_______________________________________________________________________
Was it complete or partial?
What about it made it seem (complete/partial)?

Partial.
I don't feel that I am equipped psychologically or medically to answer why I got this reaction so my supposition is that I had to go on.

_______________________________________________________________________
How did you get the answer?

I just thought about and decided that this is the way it was with me from my own background.


Page 32
_______________________________________________________________________
Did you expect the answer to help you in any way? If so, how?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you expect the answer to hurt you in any way? If so, how?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer actually help you in any way? If so, how?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer actually hurt you in any way? If so, how?
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q3, STEP 5

Q1: After all the doctors, was he really a doctor or a specialist? Is he still training?

_______________________________________________________________________
What were you trying to do (cope with, understand, accomplish, figure out, survive, endure, tolerate) when you asked this question?

I wanted to be reassured that I was getting the proper treatment and that these people were really qualified to be giving me all these lethal type drugs. I was kind of insecure and this was all really new and I just wanted to be reassured that this was really good for me.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you see yourself as blocked or hindered in any way when you asked this question?
How?

Yes. My state of mind mainly because I was nervous about it. I was feeling insecure and frightened.

_______________________________________________________________________
Is there anything else you could tell us that explains why you asked this question?

Only that they were told that they had finished their tour of duty so to speak and that the part that they were moving on made me wonder if this was just a training session to them and they weren't really specialists, and I wanted a specialist.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did this question stand alone or was it related to other questions?
What questions? How were they connected?

Related to other questions.
Was he really taking care of my case?
I just wasn't sure what their positions were, what they were in the whole set-up. Were they the doctors that were looking at my case and deciding on the medicine or did they just repeat things to some other doctor and get the answers somewhere else? Were they qualified to make these decisions or did they have to go to somebody else. I'm not sure that is what you want.

_______________________________________________________________________
If other people were in a situation like this, how many of them do you think would ask this same question in their minds? All/A lot/About half/Just a few/None.

A lot.


Page 33

_______________________________________________________________________
How easy did it seem to get an answer to this question? (Scale: 1 = very hard to 10 = very easy) Why did you see it this way?

1
Because I never asked it out loud to anyone who could answer it.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did getting an answer ever seem harder or easier? (Same/harder/easier)
(If harder or easier) Where did it move on scale?
(If harder or easier) Why did it change?

Easier
Moved to 10
Because I finally got the answers, the secure answers.

_______________________________________________________________________
How important was getting an answer to this question at the time when you asked it in your mind? (Scale: 1 = very unimportant to 10 = very important)
Why did you see it this way?

9

Because they were giving me some very strong medicine and once I began to doubt their ability then I was worried about it.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did getting an answer ever seem more or less important? (same/less/more)
(If more or less) Where did it move on the scale?
(If more or less) Why did it change?

More
Moved to 10
Because the more I thought about it the more worried I got that I didn't understand the set-up there and I wasn't sure about their abilities.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you actually ask this question out loud at this time?

Yes

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer to this question at this time?

Yes

_______________________________________________________________________
Was it complete or partial?
What about it made it seem (complete/partial)?

Complete
He explained that their different abilities were that yes, they were really doctors and they were trained specialists and although there were what they considered in training they had been at it for some time. And they were, he assured me, that they were qualified to do what they do and he also told me that they were in consultation with Dr. __________. Always there was never one doctor that made the decision. It was always Dr. _____ in connection with the doctor you were seeing.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the completeness ever change?

No

_______________________________________________________________________
How did you get the answer?

By asking the doctor.


Page 34

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you expect the answer to help you in any way? If so, how?

Yes
By putting me at ease about the quality of people that were treating me.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer actually help you in the way you expected?
Did it help you in any other way?

Yes
No

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you expect the answer to hurt you in any way? If so, how?

No

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer actually hurt you in any way? If so, how?

No
_______________________________________________________________________


Page 35

EXAMPLE #2


Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1980 study of blood donors.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 80 blood donors residing in the city of Seattle, selected from the donor rosters of the Puget Sound Blood Center in a disproportionate stratified random sample defined by three strata (two levels of age, sex, and new versus repeat donor). In-person interviews took an average of 93 minutes, with a range from 50-130.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to describe his/her recent blood donation. For this administration, Time-Line steps were elicited first, then questions were elicited for each Time-Line step. Finally, in-depth analyses were elicited on all questions.

CITATIONS: Dervin, Nilan, and Jacobson 1981.
Dervin, Jacobson, and Nilan 1982.

EXCERPT: What is presented below is an excerpt from the Time-Line (consisting of Time-Line steps and accompanying questions). This is followed by a complete example of an in-depth question analysis. Respondent is a 16 year old male new donor.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME LINE
STEP 1: We were told we would get extra credit in health class for donating.

Q1: How much did I have to give?
Q2: What are the procedures?


STEP 2: A friend who had donated told me about it so a friend and I decided to donate.

Q1: How long would it take?
Q2: Would it hurt?
Q3: How big is the needle?
Q4: How much blood do I have to give?


STEP 3: I got my parent's permission.

No questions.


(SKIPPING DOWN TO STEP 7)
STEP 7: She called me in and I didn't know what was going on.

Q1: What are they going to do?
Q2: What is all this equipment for if they are just going to take
my blood?

(SKIPPING DOWN TO THE LAST STEP)
STEP 11: After eight minutes I went to the canteen for cookies and juice.

No questions.


Page 36

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF STEP 7
How clear was the event (scale of 1 = very unclear to 10 = very clear.)

3

_______________________________________________________________________
How many people were involved?

Only me.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you see event as just happening or was it seen as a result of something that happened earlier?

Just happened.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you see event as having possible good consequences.

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you see event as having possible bad consequences.

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Which of the situation movement state pictures fit the event best? (R chose from decision, barrier, problematic, worry).

Problematic.

_______________________________________________________________________
How important was the event? (Scale of 1 = very unimportant to 10 = very important).

10

_______________________________________________________________________
Did event help in any way?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did event hurt in any way?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q2, STEP 7

Q: What is all this equipment for if they are just going to take my blood?

How easy was it to get an answer to this question? (Scale of 1 = impossible to 10 = very easy.)

1

_______________________________________________________________________
How many people would ask this same question in the same situation? (none, a few, about half, a lot, all of them)

About half.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you ever get an answer to this question?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________
Why didn't you get an answer?

Because they didn't tell me anything. They just did it. They thought I knew what was going on.

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 37


Did you expect the answer to help? If so, how?

I wouldn't have been scared or in suspense wondering what they were going to do.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you expect the answer to hurt? If so, how?

No.

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 38

EXAMPLE #3

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1979 study of interpersonal conflicts faced by university graduate students.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 35 students in an applied communication class at the University of Washington. Students did a self-analysis following prepared guidelines.

METHOD: Each student was asked to list the Time-Line steps (what happened first, second, and so on) and then the questions at each step. Then they did in-depth analyses of each question.

CITATIONS: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What is presented below is a complete Time-Line (consisting of Time-Line steps and accompanying questions) followed by two complete examples of in-depth question analyses. Respondent is a male, sophomore, 20 years old.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME LINE
STEP 1: This person was in my room in the dorm without my permission.

Q1: What does he want?

STEP 2: I asked him to leave.

Q1: What's his problem anyway?

STEP 3: He physically harmed me.

Q1: Do I have to defend myself?

STEP 4: I defended myself.

Q1: Was this really necessary?

STEP 5: I left my own room.

Q1: Why do I always put up with this happening?

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************

IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 2

Q: What's his problem anyway?

Was it easy, hard, or impossible to get an answer?

Easy

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer?

Yes

_______________________________________________________________________
How did you get an answer?

I put two and two together

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer help you or hurt you or both?

Both


Page 39

_______________________________________________________________________
How did it help you?

It showed me how not to get into this predicament again.

_______________________________________________________________________
How did it hurt you?

What happened next hurt.

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 5

Q: Why do I always put up with this happening?

Was it easy, hard, or impossible to get an answer?

Hard.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer?

Partial.

_______________________________________________________________________
How did you get an answer?

I reasoned it through, figured my inexperience is why.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer help you or hurt you or both?

Hurt.

_______________________________________________________________________
How did it hurt you?

Somehow it was useless. Made me feel bad.

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 40

EXAMPLE #4

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1979 study of students attending university classes.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: Undergraduate students attending two classes in the University of Washington School of Communications: a class in radio production and a class in research methods. Students in the research methods class did interpersonal interviews.

METHOD: Each student was asked to list the Time-Line steps (what happened first, second, and so on) and then the questions at each step). In-depth analyses were then done of all questions.

CITATIONS: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What is presented below is an excerpt from a Time-Line (consisting of Time-Line steps and accompanying questions). This is followed by a complete example of an in-depth question analysis. Respondent is a female, age 22, a senior.
______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
THE TIME LINE

STEP 1: I got into class and everyone shuffled in late.

Q1: How will I handle the assignments to write spots to produce
radio sports that is due next week?
Q2: Will we get out of class early?
Q3: Why are people always late?

STEP 2: The instructor told us what we were going to do that day.

No questions.

STEP 3: She started talking about the editing machine.
Q1: I wondered if I would be able to do it.

(SKIPPING DOWN TO LAST STEP)
STEP 11: Our small group decided we'd talk later and we left.

Q1: Would I remember when we were going to meet?

______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 3
Q1: I wondered if I would be able to do it.

Was it easy, hard, or impossible to get an answer?

Easy.

______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer at that time, later or never?

Later.

______________________________________________________________________
How did you get an answer?

Tried it out myself.


Page 41

______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer help or hurt or both?

Helped.

______________________________________________________________________
How did it help?

Built up my confidence . . . this helped me perform better . . . this
helped me relax and feel better.


Page 42

EXAMPLE #5

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview. 1981 Study of developmentally disabled adults.
______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 6 developmentally disabled adults selected judgmentally by the Library Services to the Developmentally Disabled Adult Project of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System headquartered in Pomona, California.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to describe a recent troublesome experience. They described their Time-Line steps and the questions they had at each step. They were asked then to describe each question they had in more detail.

CITATIONS: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What is presented below is the complete Time-Line Interview for a 23 year old male diagnosed as moderately retarded.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME LINE AND ALL ACCOMPANYING DETAILED ANALYSES

STEP 1: The kite, the string came undone.
What were you trying to accomplish?

I wanted the kite to go up in the air.

What questions did you have at this time?

Whether to tie it back on.

Did you get an answer?

No.

Why not?

Because I was mad. I lost my cool so darned easy.

Would an answer to this question have helped you?

Yes.

How?

Try again.

_______________________________________________________________________
STEP 2: I tore the kite up.
What were you trying to accomplish?

Just don't do it, just try again, but I lost my cool.

What questions did you have at this time?

Do I have to pay for it?

Did you get an answer?

No

.Why not?

Because I was mad at the time.

Would an answer to this question have helped you?

Yes.

How?

I don't know, just to make it work again.


Page 43
_______________________________________________________________________
STEP 3: People were laughing at me.
What were you trying to accomplish?

To get it to school, to get it at least half way up.

What questions did you have at this time?

I wished I could talk to the folks and tell them what they were doing.

Did you get an answer?

No.

Why not?

The kids would turn against me.

Would an answer help?

Yes.

How?

I would have talked to them and told them to knock it off.

______________________________________________________________________
STEP 4: Then I got on the bike and took off.
What were you trying to accomplish?

To go somewhere and cool off.

What questions did you have at this time?

How come it didn't go up?

Did you get an answer?

No.

Why not?

Because I was still mad at the time.

Would an answer have helped?

Not to lose my cool.

_______________________________________________________________________



Page 44

EXAMPLE #6



Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1981 study of children's television viewing.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: Permission was sought from parents of all 114 children attending the Austin, Texas Extend-A-Care after-school program at two sites. All children whose parents agreed were interviewed, yielding 55 interviews. The respondents were aged 5-12.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to name several television shows he or she had watched in the past several days and then to name the television show best remembered or most important. The child was then asked to describe the show on a time-line, as though the child had a camera and took pictures during the program. When the time-line was complete, the child was asked to indicate what questions he/she has asked aloud or silently during each time line step. They were then asked to indicate whether each question was answered, when, how and whether the answer helped or was expected to help.

CITATIONS: Atwood, Allen, Bardgett, Proudlove, and Rich 1982.

EXCERPT: What is presented below is the complete Time-Line Interview for a 5 year old girl and a partial Time-Line Interview for a 10 year old boy.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE COMPLETE TIME LINE FOR A 5 YEAR OLD GIRL

STEP 1: A man was running. A shark headed at him. He jumped out of the boat and got away.

Q1: Did this really happen?
Q2: Why is this so funny?

Did this really happen?
a) Asked this question out loud.
b) Got an answer at the time.
c) Got answer from mother.
d) Answer helped because: I knew it wasn't real.

Why is this so funny?
a) Asked this question out loud.
b) Got an answer at the time.
c) Got answer from mother.
d) Answer helped because: My mother told me it wasn't
funny. I asked because I didn't think it was funny but my
brothers laughed so I laughed too.


Page 45
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME LINE FOR THE 10 YEAR OLD BOY

STEP 1: Everybody got stuck in the car on the way to the cabin.

Q1: How did they get stuck in the snow when they were going 50
miles an hour?

STEP 2: Fonzie digs the car out of the snow.

Q1: Why did he forget the shovel?

STEP 3: Fonzie walks in the woods with friends.

No questions.

STEP 4: They were having an axe throwing contest. A man got a splinter in
his finger.

Q1: Why didn't he say ouch?

STEP 5: Richie and his girlfriend had a fight. Fonzie gets them back together.

Q1: How would he do that?

STEP 6: Fonzie talks to the bluejay birds.

A1: How does he do it?

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 4 (10 year old boy)

Q: Why didn't he say ouch?

Was the question asked out loud or silently?

Silently.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer to the question at this time, later, or never?

Never.

_______________________________________________________________________
Would an answer have helped? How?

Yes. It would help me not to say ouch, too.

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 6 (10 year old boy)


Q: How does he do it (how does Fonzie talk to bluejays)?

Was the question asked out loud or silently?

Out loud.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer to the question at this time, later, or never?

Never.

_______________________________________________________________________
Would an answer have helped? How?

Yes. Would have told me how to talk to them.

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 46

EXAMPLE #7

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1982 study of minority and non-minority students at the University of Texas-Austin.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 79 students (20 Blacks, 20 Hispanics, 19 Asians, 20 Whites) selected with disproportionate stratified random sampling procedures from the roster of students at the University of Texas-Austin.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to describe recent difficult situations encountered at the University of Texas. They were then asked to select the most important situation from the current semester.

CITATIONS: Atwood and McLean 1983a, 1983b.

EXCERPT: What follows below is the Time-Line and one in-depth question analysis from an interview with a 27 year old male Black doctoral student.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
THE TIME LINE

STEP 1: During my first meeting with professors in my department, my GRE scores were presented to me in front of my spouse as inappropriate and representative of my inability to perform according to department requirements.

Q1: Could I do the work?
Q2: If I don't perform, will I be here next year?

STEP 2: I put myself in a psychological state of stress and challenged myself to either put up or shut up.

Q1: Who can I go to for assistance?
Q2: How could I go about setting up my own program of
individual study?

STEP 3: I sought assistance from one professor in the department regarding help with statistics. I also recruited the professor's help who was teaching the stat course.

No questions.

STEP 4: The psychological stress of the situation took its toll on me and I got physically ill. As a consequence, I began to panic and my motivation level began to decrease.

Q1: Was it my fault that I was under so much pressure?
Q2: Did it really matter if I could do the work in the eyes of the
department?

STEP 5: At the end of the semester, I asked my professor for moral and academic support. I was given a second semester to prove to my department and myself that I had the ability to perform.

Q1: Will my professors give me the commitment I am asking for?


Page 47

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
IN DEPTH ANALYSIS OF Q1, STEP 4

Q: Was it my fault that I was under so much pressure?

How hard was it to get an answer? (Scale: 1 = impossible to 10 = very easy)

2

_______________________________________________________________________
How many students like yourself in similar situations would ask this question?
(Scale: none, few, about half, a lot, all)

About half.

_______________________________________________________________________
How many students unlike yourself would ask this question? (same scale)

About half.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you ask this question in your head or out loud?

In head.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get an answer to this question at this time, later, or never?

At this time.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did you get a complete or partial answer?

Complete.

_______________________________________________________________________
Where did you get the answer from?

Self.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer help? How?

Yes. Helped develop self satisfaction, assurance, and confidence.

_______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer hurt? How?

Yes. For a while I doubted myself.

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 48

EXAMPLE #8

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1981 study of college student paper writing experience.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 98 students in an undergraduate communications course at the University of Washington-Seattle.

METHOD: Students did self-interviews using specified instructions. They detailed the time-line steps for their most recent paper writing experience and then completed in-depth analyses for all questions asked.

CITATIONS: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What follows below is a complete set of the data obtained for Step 2 in the Time-Line Interview of a 19 year old male college sophomore.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
STEP 2: I decided on the topic of my paper -- alcoholism.

Questions I got answers to:

Will this be an interesting topic to research?
Will I find enough information to do a 10-page paper?

Questions I did not get answers to:

Should I have picked abortion as my issue instead?

Questions raised by event:

How does this assignment relate to this class?

Will this be an interesting topic to research?

a) Easy to get answer because I was already interested in topic and
through my research become more interested.
b) Got answer at a later time.
c) Got a complete answer.
d) Got answer by doing my research and writing the paper.
e) Answer helped by making me feel more relaxed in doing this topic
because I felt that I could make an interesting report.
f) Answer did not hurt.

________________________________________________________________


/skipping to last question asked at this time-line step/

How dies this assignment relate to this class?

a) Easy to get an answer because I was able to ask teacher.
b) Got answer at this time.
c) Got a complete answer.
d) Got answer by asking teacher.
e) Answer helped because I tried to center my paper around the
sociological aspects of alcoholism as teacher wanted and this
helped me get a better grade.
f) Answer hurt because I really wanted to focus on the facts of
alcoholism rather than sociological interpretation.


Page 49

EXAMPLE #9

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1979 study of California residents aged 14 years of age or older.
______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 646 California residents secured with multi-stage probability sampling design.

METHOD: Respondents were asked to describe recent situations in which they had stopped and thought about or tried to solve a problem, make a decision, or answer a question. Respondents were then asked to identify the situation most important to them and to describe the Time-Line steps for that situation. They were also asked to indicate what questions they had at each step and which question across all steps was most important to them. This most important question was analyzed in depth in terms of what sources were used, what helps were sought, and so on.

CITATIONS: Atwood and Dervin 1982
Palmour, Rathbun, Brown, and Dowd 1979

EXCERPTS: What follows below is the core Time-Line for an 18 year old Black female and an in-depth analysis of her most important question.
______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
THE TIME LINE (* = the most important question)
Step 1: I quit school because I got pregnant.

No questions.

Step 2: I had the baby one month ago.

Step 3: I didn't know whether to go back to school or not.

Q1: *How important is returning to school?

Step 4: I'm only 18 and my folks thought it was important.

Q1: How much do I really want to go back?

Step 5: I live at home so I have no expenses and my mother babysits for me.

Step 6: So I am going back to school.
______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
Did you get an answer to this question? How?

My own thinking and parents' advice.

______________________________________________________________________
Did the answer help? How?

Yes. Made me feel better about me. Got me started toward going back to school.

______________________________________________________________________


Page 50

EXAMPLE #10

Excerpt from Micro-Moment Time-Line Interviews: 1983 study of southeast Asian refugees living in Seattle.
______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: Southeast Asian refugees living in Seattle interviewed in available groups (i.e., at English classes).

METHOD: The refugees were asked to recall their recent visit to a hospital or clinic. They were asked to describe the events involved and detail the questions they had during each event. For each question they indicated, they were asked whether they got answers, and how. Among speaking interviewers/group process facilitators were trained and ran the sessions when respondents could not speak English. Responses were tape recorded and translated and transcribed later.

CITATIONS: Wittet 1983

EXCERPT: What follows below is the situation descriptions and questions asked by four respondents. Since questions emerged in the process of talking, the questions are indicated in all capital letters in the transcriptions.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
RESPONDENT #02 - female, 29 year old describing visit to hospital

Situation: They gave me medicine to take to increase the blood in my body. Even I take before breakfast or lunch or dinner it make me vomit. So that I need to ask the doctor [QUESTION:] IF IT"S OKAY I DON"T TAKE IT OR I MUST TAKE IT? But I cannot ask because I do not speak English.

________________________________________________________________________
RESPONDENT #11 - female, 35 year old describing visit to hospital

Situation 1: The last time I went to the hospital is I have my baby and then after I have my baby the doctor and nurse bring me cold water. So that in my culture that's different and I keep asking them about the question that [QUESTION:] WHY THE PEOPLE THAT HAS NEW BABY THEY KEEP DRINKING VERY COLD WATER?

Situation 2: After I have my baby I'm very new. I like my body is changing and they let me take a walk every two hours or three hours. I keep thinking that my body is new and that I'm so tired to understand. And also I think that many things in my body is not wrong and there is no illness but I just have a baby and I'm thinking that in a few days I'll get better. I'll get strong but the doctor say you have to walk and I was thinking [QUESTION:] WHY HE SAY THIS? And, many things many things but I can't tell them. They don't understand me either.


Page 51

________________________________________________________________________
RESPONDENT #15 - male, 37 years old describing hospital visit

Situation 1: . . . when I came to the U.S. and they have to give blood check to take out blood. {QUESTION:] WHY DO THEY USUALLY TAKE A LOT OF BLOOD OUT?

Situation 2: I would like to ask but I believe that the doctor they know more than me but I'm still concerned like Mrs. __________ she say when you a lady have a baby in our culture we just use very special food, hot food, or hot water. We have to cook special for the people that just have baby. But [QUESTION:] WHY WHEN YOU HAVE BABY IN HOSPITAL THEY GIVE YOU EVERY KIND OF FOOD TO EAT? And, in our people if they take every food like that should be they have problem when they get old.

Situation 3: Usually our people believe that the doctor know more than yourself and every time you went to the hospital you don't have any questions and you just say "I see" and you hope that the doctor will find everything for you and the doctor will tell you everything. But I am very concerned that [QUESTION:] WHY WHEN YOU GO TO THE DOCTOR HE ASK YOU MANY, MANY QUESTIONS?

________________________________________________________________________
RESPONDENT #19 - male, 28 years old describing hospital visit

Situation 1: This happened. When person who die, they already know that kind of sickness he or she have before. But after die, they still open. [QUESTION:] WHY WHEN PEOPLE DIE THEY NEED TO OPEN THE BODY?

________________________________________________________________________


Page 52

EXAMPLE #11

Excerpt from a Micro-Moment Time-Line Interview: 1981 study of college student media days.
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: Students in an introductory communications course at the University of Washington School of Communications.

METHOD: Students were asked to write a media diary for an entire day detailing for each waking hour the most important media exposed to, what the exposure consisted of, what the situation consisted of, and how the exposure helped or hurt. Helps and hurts were described using Straight Line Helps/Hurts Chaining (see Example #12).

CITATION: unpublished at this time

EXCERPT: What follows below is an excerpt for three time periods of the media exposure of a 19 year old male freshman.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
TIME PERIOD 1

 Time 9:30 a.m.
 Media textbook
 Content political science text
 Situation sitting in class
 Help chain  knew what was going on in class . . . this helps me do better on exams . . . this helps me get better grades . . . this means I keep my scholarship . . . this means I don't have to work . . . this gives me more free time for school and plan. <END>
 Hurt chain  the TA knew I didn't do my reading before class . . . this might bias her against me when she reads my papers or grades my test . . . this might lower my grade . . . I could lose my scholarship . . . this would depress me. <END>

_______________________________________________________________________

TIME PERIOD 2

 Time 12:00 noon
Media radio
Content pop music station
Situation doing differing things in my dorm room
 Help chain made me feel as though I was not alone...this made me happy <END>
 Hurt chain none
_______________________________________________________________________

TIME PERIOD 2
 Time 12:00 noon
Media newspaper
Content comics (Garfield)
Situation waiting for someone
Help chain  gave me a laugh for the day . . . this gave me a good attitude about studying . . . this meant I got more done . . . this meant I can improve my grade <END>
 Hurt chain none

_______________________________________________________________________


Page 53

EXAMPLE #12

Excerpt from Straight Line Helps/Hurts Chaining: 1981 study of media uses by Syracuse, N.Y. adults
_______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 252 person systematic random sample of Syracuse, N.Y. adults age 18 years and older drawn from the Syracuse, N.Y. phone book.

METHOD: Each respondent was asked to name their most recent TV show seen, newspaper (or magazine article) read, book read, and conversation participated in. They were asked to describe the content of the exposure and then to chain helps they saw as emerging from the exposure.

CITATION: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What follows below is the complete interview with a 34 year old female.
_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
MOST RECENT TELEVISION SHOW

CONTENT: Show was about exercises -- the Ed Allen Show.
Helps chain: Helped me because I participated . . . this gave me a push to do more exercises . . . this helps me firm my muscles . . . they helped me feel better about myself . . . this makes me feel good . . . this benefits my family . . . this makes everyone feel better. <END>
_______________________________________________________________________

MOST RECENT MAGAZINE ARTICLE

CONTENT: Magazine article about how to win friends.
Helps chain: Made me aware of myself . . . this showed me how to improve myself. <END>
_______________________________________________________________________

MOST RECENT CONVERSATION

CONTENT: With my children regarding cleaning their rooms.
Helps chain: It helped because I told them what to do . . . this helped because there was no mess in the other room . . . then I don't have to clean up . . . then I am less tired . . . this makes me happier. <END>
_______________________________________________________________________

MOST RECENT BOOK

CONTENT: Bible
Helps chain: It was food for thought . . . it helps because then I know what to do . . . this gives me security and purpose . . . this makes me happier and the world looks better. <END>
_______________________________________________________________________


Page 54

EXAMPLE #13

Excerpt from Complex Helps/Hurts Chaining: 1982 study of college students reporting on recent class lectures.
______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: Students in an introductory communications course in the University of Washington School of Communications.

METHOD: Students did self-interviews. They were asked to detail the Time-Line steps from a recent lecture they attended. Then for each step in the Time-Line, they chained both helps and hurts. Chaining was done in such a way that a help or hurt could chain to either a help or hurt or both.

CITATIONS: unpublished at this time.

EXCERPT: What follows below is the helps/hurts chaining for one time-line step in the interview of a 21 year old senior.
______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
Step 1: The teacher said we had to write a term paper focusing on the relationship between this class and our future jobs.


 It helped because it will make the class more interesting   It helped because it will relate to other classes I am taking   It hurt because it's a big assignment


 This helped because no one likes to be bored.

<END>

 

 

 

 

This hurt because I always take on too much when I am interested.

This may help because it gives me another chance to control my output.

<END> 

This helps reduce the time I spend because things are connected.

This means I'll have more time for other things.

It may hurt because this makes it even more interesting and I may get even more carried away.

<END>

This hurt because this is to be a gut course

But this can help me learn to handle heavier loads easier.

If I can do it I will be a lot happier.

<END>

 I need to play more so I'll be more relaxed and happy.

<END>

 I'll have more time with people.

I'll be happier and no so lonely.

<END>

 



Page 55

EXAMPLE #14

Excerpt from Close-ending Sense-Making Interview: 1983 study of college student information seeking and use in structurally and situationally constrained contexts.
______________________________________________________________________
SAMPLE: 162 University of Washington students enrolled in an introductory communications course.

METHOD: Each student was asked to recall and describe their sense-making in 12 different situations. The situations were all prescribed with each one involving one of the 12 cells created by the intersections of the values of three different variables (their own status relative to other persons involved, the degree of openness of communication, and the nature of the situational stop that led to question asking). The 12 situations were:

 DECISION

BEING LED

PROBLEMATIC

 LO STATUS

 HI STATUS

LO STATUS

HI STATUS

LO STATUS

HI STATUS

OPEN COMMUNICATION

 1

2

3

4

5

6

CLOSED COMMUNICATION

 7

8

9

10

11

12

_______________________________________________________________


For each situation, respondents were then asked to rate (on 7-point scales):

1) the extent to which they had each of 18 different questions in the situation;

2) the extent to which they had each of 13 different helps in the situation;

3) their ability to deal with the situation;

4) the extent to which they experienced similar situations in the past; and

5) the extent to which they saw themselves as having power to change the situation.

Each respondent was also asked to describe in words why he/she saw the situation as being of the type specified.

CITATIONS: Nilan 1983
Nilan and Dervin 1983

EXCERPT: What follows is the complete response record for one respondent (a 19 year old female freshman) on one of the 12 situations.


Page56

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
SITUATION: problematic, lo status, closed communication
DESCRIPTION OF SITUATION: My mother refused to let me buy a new bathing suit.
_______________________________________________________________________
The situation was problematic because: There was nothing I could do about it. I didn't have enough money of my own.
The situation was lo status because: She's my mother. She controls the money.
The situation was closed communication: She just wouldn't listen to reason.
QUESTIONS ASKED: <1 = not at all a Q of mine; 7 = very much a Q of mine.

a) How can I make this situation go away? 2
b) How can I avoid bad consequences? 5
c) How can I do something that I want to? 7
d) What will result from this situation? 5
e) Are other people in similar situations? 4
f) Is this a good situation or a bad one? 1
g) How do other people see this situation, what are their motives/reasons/
plans? 7
h) Does anyone agree with me? 7
i) What do I think or feel? 1
j) How can I decide among my options/alternatives? 1
k) What are the different ways of looking at this situation? 1
l) What caused this situation? 5
m) Who and/or what is involved in this situation? 1
n) Where can I get encouragement, help, and/or support? 6
o) What are my options/alternatives? 2
p) Should I change my view of this situation? 1
q) Should I change my view of this situation related to each other? 3
r) How can I get motivated? 1

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
HELPS WANTED: (1=didn't want this help at all; 7=wanted this help very much)

a) Being able to relax. 5
b) Getting ideas, pictures, understanding. 4
c) Being able to plan ahead, decide what to do, prepare. 2
d) Getting started, being able to keep going, being motivated. 5
e) Getting confirmation, reassurance, support. 7
f) Getting out of a bad situation. 7
g) Accomplishing what you wanted, reaching your goal. 7
h) Being able to take your mind off things. 5
i) Getting connected to other people, feeling less alone. 7
j) Getting control of things. 6
k) Having things go easier, calmer. 4
l) Being able to go on to other things, leaving this behind. 3
m) Avoiding a bad situation, not getting into one. 1

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
OVERALL SITUATION EVALUATIONS: < 1 = not at all; 7 = very much)

a) extent able to deal with situation. 3
b) extent experienced situation before. 7
c) extent feel had power in situation. 1


Page 57

EXAMPLE #15

Excerpt from Message-Q/ing Interview and a Profile of Message Q/ing by message users: 1983 study of college student reading of Seattle Times leisure times coverage.

METHOD: As an optional class assignment, students were given copies of the most recent week's leisure time coverage by the Seattle Times (sections of sports, arts and culture, travel, and a general entertainment section). Students read the sections, indicated at what points in the coverage they had questions. For each question raised, they were asked to:

a) Draw a / at the point in the coverage where they had the question.

b) Rate the importance of the question on scale from 1 <not important> to 7 <very important>.

c) Indicate how they hoped an answer would help them.

d) Indicate whether they got an incomplete, partial, or complete answer from the story.

This method of having people indicate with a / where they stopped in a message was developed by Carter (Carter, Ruggels, Jackson, and Heffner 1983).

CITATIONS: Dervin and Martin 1983

EXCERPT: What follows below is:

a) the first three questions listed for the first article in the travel section by a 21 year old senior; and

b) excerpts from the paragraphs of the same article.

_______________________________________________________________________
************************************************************
MESSAGE_Q/ING INTERVIEW

  ARTICLE

1

 Q#

1

 RESPONSES

When was the hurricane at Kauai?

a) Importance: 2
b) Expected help: understand why this article was in travel
section of newspaper.
c) Got partial answer.

 1

2
 Is it near where I stay when I go to Hawaii?
a) Importance: 3
b) Expected help: I'd be more interested in article.
c) Didn't get answer.

 1

 3
 Why aren't tourists returning?
a) Importance: 6
b) Expected help: wanted to check if damage was so great that I
should cancel my plans to travel there.
c) Got partial answer.


________________________________________________________________________


Page 58

_______________________________________________________________________
*************************************************************
PROFILE OF MESSAGE Q/ING
/ = where one or more respondents stopped to question
* = one respondent
1-7 = importance rating (see above)
PCN = whether got no (N), partial (P), or complete (C) answer from rest of article.


 ARTICLE
 

 /*****

KAUAI

 Where is Kauai? 2/P
Where is Kauai? 3/C
Where is Kauai? 1/N
Is this near where we stayed? 5/N
Is this near where we stayed? 3/P

 Hawaii's storm tossed "Garden

/*

Island" is blooming again.

 

Is this an official name? 2N

 Less than five months ago,

/**
 When was this hurricane? 2P
How come I haven't heard of it? 5

 Hurricane Iwa battered Kauai

(and sections of the island
of Oahu).

At first, parts of Kauai

virtually were paralyzed.

Hardest hit was the Poipu

Beach area on the island's

/****

southwest point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this near where we stay? 3/N
Is this near where we stay? 4/P
Is our cabin near there? 1/N
Is near our resort? 7/N

<SKIPPING DOWN TO PARAGRAPH 11>

Visitors are not swarming

/***********

back to Kauai. Hotel

occupancy rates are sagging.

Travelers who saw the

disaster photographs . . .

 

Why aren't tourists returning? 6/P
Why not? 1/P
How come? 5/C
Is the damage that great? 7/N
How come? 3/P
Should we not go? 7/P
Should we cancel our trip? 5/P
Were our friends hurt? 6/N
Should I call my friends? 6/C
Is this near where we stay? 7/P
Is this near our place? 5/P
Is the hotel we're going to there? 4/N


Page 59

 

APPENDIX B


OVERVIEW OF THE VARIOUS DIMENSIONS TAPPED TO REPRESENT

SITUATIONS-GAPS-USES


Page 60

OVERVIEW #1

SITUATIONS

____________________________________________________________________
MEASURES USED TO DESCRIBE SITUATIONS TO DATE HAVE INCLUDED:


Page 61

THE SITUATION MOVEMENT STATES
Different studies have treated these states in different ways, sometimes eliminating some, sometimes combining some. The description below is the most expanded version.
________________________________________________________________________


 DECISION

 
Being at a point where you need to choose between two or more roads that lie ahead.
 PROBLEMATIC

 
Being dragged down a road not of your own choosing.
 SPIN-OUT

 
Not having a road.
 WASH-OUT

 
Being on a road and suddenly having it disappear.
 BARRIER

Knowing where you want to go but someone or something is blocking the way.
 BEING LED

Following someone down a road because he/she knows more and can show you the way.

 WAITING

 
Spending time waiting for something in particular.
PASSING TIME

 
Spending time without waiting for something in particular.
 OUT TO LUNCH

 
Tuning out.
 OBSERVING

Watching without being concernd with movement.
 MOVING

Seeing self as proceeding unblocked in any way ad without need to observe.


Page 62

OVERVIEW #2

GAPS

_______________________________________________________________________
Gaps have been defined to date as the questions a person constructs as he/she moves through time-space. Listed below are the different ways in which the qualitative nature of questions have been described. Also included below are the set of additional measures which have been used in different studies to examine in detail the nature of information seeking for different kinds of questions.
________________________________________________________________________
MEASURES USED TO DESCRIBE THE QUALITATIVE NATURE OF QUESTIONS TO DATE HAVE INCLUDED:

5W TEMPLATE: Assessing the question in terms of whether it asks about a gap involving:

TIME FOCUS TEMPLATE: Assessing the question in terms of whether it asks about a gap involving:

VALENCE FOCUS: Assessing the question in terms of whether it asks about a gap involving:

ENTITY FOCUS: Assessing the question in terms of whether it asks about a gap involving:


Page 63


MOVEMENT FOCUS: Assessing the questions in terms of whether it asks about a gap involving:

DESCRIPTIVE FOCUS: Assessing the question in terms of the kinds of gaps specific to a given research context. In the study of cancer patient information needs, for example (Dervin, Nilan, Krenz, and Wittet 1982), the major categories were:

* Nature of the problem
* Extent of the problem
* Cause of the problem
* Effects of problem on family/friends/relationships
* Nature of tests
* Treatment choices
* Treatment process
* Treatment effectiveness
* The nature of the treatment effects
* Reasons for treatment effects
* Timing of treatment effects
* Life effects of treatment
* My thinking and behavior
* Medical personnel/institutions
* Other patients and people
* Philosophical questions

For the study of blood donor (Dervin, Nilan, and Jacobson 1982; Dervin, Jacobson, and Nilan 1983), the major categories were:


* Pain
* My body
* Blood processing
* Donating objects
* Eligibility
* Planning
* Blood Center staff
* Self control
* Donating others


CLOSE-ENDED LISTS: The templates above have usually been applied using content analysis. Analysis has yielded a set of generic questions for use in close-ended studies. This set of questions is listed in EXAMPLE #14 in Appendix A.
________________________________________________________________________


Page 64

ADDITIONAL MEASURES USED TO EXAMINE THE NATURE OF INFORMATION SEEKING FOR DIFFERENT KINDS OF QUESTIONS:


EASE OF ANSWERING: The extent to which the person sees a question as easy, hard, or impossible to answer.

REASONS FOR EASE OF ANSWERING DIFFICULTY: The bases on which the person judges a question as difficult or impossible to answer.

QUESTION CONNECTEDNESS: The extent to which the person sees a question as connected to other questions.

NATURE OF QUESTION CONNECTEDNESS: The kind of questions the person sees as connected to a given question.

WHO WOULD ASK: The extent to which the person sees the question as one that would be asked by none, a few, some, many, or all others involved in similar situations.

IMPORTANCE OF ANSWERING: The extent to which the person sees getting an answer to the question as important.

REASONS FOR IMPORTANCE: The bases on which the person judges a question out loud or silently in his/her head.

ASKING OUT LOUD OR SILENTLY: Whether the person asked the question out loud or silently in his/her head.

REASONS FOR NOT ASKING OUT LOUD: The bases on which the person explains not getting an answer.

ANSWERING SUCCESS: Whether an answer was obtained at the time the question was asked, later, or never.

REASONS FOR LACK OF ANSWERING SUCCESS: The bases on which the person explains not getting an answer.

ANSWER COMPLETENESS: Whether the person saw the answer as complete or partial.

REASONS FOR COMPLETENESS/PARTIALNESS: The bases on which the person judged an answer as complete or partial.

ANSWER SOURCES: The places from which the person reported getting answers (including self, others, media, and so on).


Page 65

OVERVIEW #3

USES

________________________________________________________________________
Uses of information answers have been defined as the helps or hurts the person saw self as obtaining. While all the applications to date have been based on the same theoretic core, different studies have used different major categories. The most detailed list follows presented as helps. When used as hurts, the categories are restated in terms of whether a help was used as hurts, the categories are restated in terms of whether a help was not achieved and in terms of whether a potential help turned out badly (i.e. didn't get a picture and got a bad picture). Usually the categories are applied in content analysis. A closed-ended version is presented in Example #14 in Appendix A.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT PICTURES/IDEAS/UNDERSTANDINGS: It is assumed that people need ideas in order to move. This category focuses on getting new or revised understandings, sense, pictures.
________________________________________________________________________
ABLE TO PLAN: In order to move, one must have direction. this category includes being able to decide, prepare, plan ahead.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT SKILLS: Moving frequently requires skills and this category taps being helped by acquiring them.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT STARTED, GOT MOTIVATED: Moving sometimes requires a push to get started. This category includes helps by getting motivated to start or finding ways to start.
________________________________________________________________________
KEPT GOING: Sometimes moving is in danger of stopping from lack of self motivation. This category includes helps by getting motivated to keep going.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT CONTROL: Here help is needed to gain or regain control.
________________________________________________________________________
THINGS GOT CALMER, EASIER: Here the helps involve making the situation easier and/or calmer.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT OUT OF A BAD SITUATION: Sometimes the situation is bad and the help obtained is getting out of it.
________________________________________________________________________
REACHED THE GOAL, ACCOMPLISHED THINGS: Here the helps involve achieving goals arriving places.
________________________________________________________________________
WENT ON TO OTHER THINGS: Being able to leave this situation behind and go on to other things.
________________________________________________________________________
AVOIDED A BAD SITUATION: Here the helps involve seeing a bad situation ahead and avoiding it.
________________________________________________________________________
TOOK MIND OFF THINGS: Here the helps involve being able to put the situation out of mind temporarily
________________________________________________________________________
RELAXED, RESTED: Here the helps involve some kind of rest, recuperation, relaxation.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT PLEASURE: Here the helps involve obtaining pleasure, happiness, joy, satisfaction, or other pleased emotional states.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT SUPPORT, REASSURANCE, CONFIRMATION: Here the helps involve obtaining pleasure, happiness, joy, satisfaction, or other pleased emotional states.
________________________________________________________________________
GOT CONNECTED TO OTHERS: Here the helps being connected with others, not feeling lonely.
________________________________________________________________________


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APPENDIX C



WHAT RESPONDENTS LEARNED

AND

WHAT INTERVIEWERS LEARNED


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________________________________________________________________________
STATEMENTS BY RESPONDENTS ON WHAT THEY LEARNED FROM PARTICIPATING IN A SENSE-MAKING STUDY:

________________________________________________________________________
STATEMENTS BY INTERVIEWERS ON WHAT THEY LEARNED FROM PARTICIPATING IN A SENSE-MAKING STUDY:


Page 68

NOTES

1) See all citations for Dervin and co-authors listed in references. See also citations for Atwood, Nilan, and Wittet and their co-authors. The book by Dervin, THE HUMAN SIDE OF INFORMATION: PERSPECTIVES FOR COMMUNICATING is in preparation, with an expected publication date of 1989 by Ablex Publishers. This paper is a brief version of much of the book. The author owes a debt to the many people who have contributed to Sense-Making studies since the beginning: Rita Atwood (at the University of California State University - Fresno) and Michael Nilan (at Syracuse University) deserve mention in particular. Others have included: Sylvia Harlock, Carol Garzona, tom Jacobson, Colleen Kwan, Payson Hall, Michael Banister, Benson Fraser, Michael Gabriel, Claudia Krenz, Scott Wittet, and Douglas Zweizig. in addition, input from colleagues doing related work has been very helpful: John Bowes, Dick Carter, Alex Edelstein, Keith Stamm, Ken Jackson at the University of Washington; James Grunig at the University of Maryland; Patricia Dewdney at the University of Western Ontario. Richard Carter, in particular, needs mention for his theoretic work has been crucial to the development of Sense-Making. Financial and moral support from several institutions has been vital, as well: the U.S. Office of Education Bureau of Libraries and Learning Resources; the Puget Sound Blood Center; the Graduate School Research Fund of the University of Washington; the California State Library; the National Cancer Institute, the Seattle Times, and the Safeco Insurance Companies. While each of these institutions has provided support, the ideas and opinions expressed in this paper are solely those of the author and are not to be construed as official positions of any of the named organizations.

2) For extensive reviews of the treatment of the concept "information," see, in particular: Dervin 1976a, 1976b, 1980, 1981; Dervin, Jacobson and Nilan 1982.

3) See, in particular: Bruner 1973; Piaget 1962.

4) See, in particular: Bernstein 1976; Bronowski 1956, 1969, 1973; Haberman 1971, 1973; Kuhn 1962, 1977.

5) See, in particular: Beltran 1976; Ascroft and Chege 1976. See, also, Freire 1970.

6) Carter 1972, 1973, 1974a, 1974b, 1975; Carter, Ruggels, Jackson, and Heffner 1973; Edelstein 1974; Grunig 1978a, 1978b; Grunig and Disbrow 1977; Stamm and Grunig 1977. Also helpful is the work of Delia 1977.

7) See, in particular, Jackins 1973, 1981.

8) Dervin 1981 includes the most recent extensive published treatment of these questions from a Sense-Making perspective.

9) See, in particular, Carter 1974b.


Page 69

REFERENCES


Atwood, R., R. Allen, R. Bardgett, S. Proudlove, and R.Rich. Children's realities in television viewing: exploring situational information seeking. In Burgoon, M., COMMUNICATION YEARBOOK 6. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982, pp. 605-628.

Atwood, R. and B. Dervin. Challenges to socio-cultural predictors of information seeking: a test of race versus situation movement state. In Burgoon, M., COMMUNICATION YEARBOOK 5. New Brunswick, N.J. Transaction, 1982, pp. 549-569.

Atwood, R. and P. McLean. Report on the information needs of minority and non-minority students. Graduate Opportunity Program, University of Texas-Austin, 1983a.

Atwood, R. and P. McLean. Demographic system constraints and sense-making. Paper presented at annual meeting of International Communication Association, Dallas, May 1983.

Beltran, L.R.S. Alien premises, objects, and methods in Latin American communication research. COMMUNICATION RESEARCH 3, 1976, pp. 107-134.

Bernstein, R. The restructuring of social and political theory. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.

Bronowski, J. Science and human values. New York: Harper and Row, 1956.

Bronowski, J. Nature of knowledge. New York: Science Books, 1969.

Bronowski, J. The ascent of man. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1973.

Bruner, J. Beyond the information given. New York: W.W. Norton, 1973.

Carter, R.F. A journalistic view of communication. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism, Carbondale, Illinois, 1972.

Carter, R.F. Communication as behavior. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1973.

Carter, R.F. A journalistic cybernetic. Paper presented at the Conference on Communication and Control in Social Processes, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1974a.

Carter, R.F. Toward more unity in science. Unpublished paper, University of Washington School of Communication, 1974b.

Carter, R.F. Elementary ideas of systems applied to problem-solving strategies. Paper presented at the Far West Region of the Society for General Systems Research, San Jose 1975.


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Carter, R.F., W.L. Ruggels, K.M. Jackson, and M.B. Heffner. Application of signaled stopping technique to communication research. In Clarke, P., NEW MODELS FOR MASS COMMUNICATION RESEARCH. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1972, pp. 5-44.

Delia, J.G. Alternative perspectives for the study of human communication. COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY 25, 1977, pp. 46-62.

Dervin, B. Strategies for dealing with human information needs: information or communication? JOURNAL OF BROADCASTING 20, 1976, pp. 324-333.

Dervin, B. Useful theory for librarianship: communication, not information. DREXEL LIBRARY QUARTERLY 13, #3, 1977, pp. 16-32.

Dervin, B. Communication gaps and inequities: moving toward a reconceptualization. In Dervin, B. and M. Voigt, PROGRESS IN COMMUNICATION SCIENCES, VOL. 2. Norwood, J.J.: Ablex, 1980, pp. 73-112.

Dervin, B. Mass communication: changing conceptions of the audience. In Rice, R. and W. Paisley, PUBLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGNS. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1981, pp. 71-87.

Dervin, B., D. Zweizig, M. Banister, M. Gabriel, E. Hall, and C. Kwan. The development of strategies for dealing with the information needs of urban residents, Phase I -- the citizen study. Final report on Project No. L003d5JA to the Office of Libraries and Learning Resources, U.S. Office of Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (ED 136791)

Dervin, B., S. Harlock, R. Atwood, and C. Garzona. The human side of information: an exploration in a health communication context. In Nimmo, D. COMMUNICATION YEARBOOK 4. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1980, pp. 591-608.

Dervin, B., M. Nilan, and T. Jacobson. Improving predictions of information use: a comparison of predictor types in a health communication setting. In Burgoon, N., COMMUNICATION YEARBOOK 5. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1982, pp. 806-830.

Dervin, B., T. Jacobson, and M. Nilan. Measuring aspects of information seeking: A test of a quantitative/qualitative methodology. in Burgoon, M., COMMUNICATION YEARBOOK 6. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982, pp. 419-445.

Dervin, B., M. Nilan, C. Krenz, and S. Wittet. When cancer strikes: how cancer patients make sense out of their health situations. Report presented to Office of Cancer Communications, National Cancer Institute on Procurement order #263-MD-102094-3, June 1982.

Dervin, B. and M. Martin. Sense-Making profiles of message Q/ing on Seattle Times leisure time coverage. Report to the Seattle Times, in preparation, 1983.

Dervin, B. The human side of information: perspectives for communication. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1984 (expected publication date, in preparation).


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Edelstein, A. The uses of communication in decision making: a comparative study of Yugoslavia and the United States. New York: Praeger, 1974.

Freire, P. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press, 1974.

Grunig, J. Accuracy of communication from an external public to employees in a formal organization. HUMAN COMMUNICATION RESEARCH 5, 1978a, pp. 40-53.

Grunig, J. Defining publics in public relations: the case of a suburban hospital. JOURNALISM QUARTERLY 55, 1978b, pp. 109-118.

Grunig, J. and J. Disbrow. Developing a probabilistic model for communications decision making. COMMUNICATION RESEARCH 4, 1977, pp. 145-168.

Habermas, J. Knowledge and human interests. Boston: Beacon, 1971 (translated by J. Shapiro).

Habermas, J. A postscript to knowledge and human interests. PHILOSOPHY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3, 1973, pp. 157-185.

Jackins, H. The human situation. Seattle: Rational Island Publishers, 1973.

Jackins, H. The benign reality. Seattle: Rational Island Publishers, 1981.

Kuhn, T.S. The structure of scientific revolutions, INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNIFIED SCIENCE, 2:2, 1962, entire issue.

Nilan, M. Structural constraints and situational information seeking and use. Paper presented at annual meeting of International Communication Association, Dallas, May 1983.

Nilan, M. and B. Dervin. A comparison of structural and situational predictors of information use. In preparation, University of Washington School of Communications, 1983.

Palmour, V., P. Rathbun, W. Brown, B. Dervin, and P. Dowd. The information needs of Californians. Report from King Research to the California State Library, March 1979.

Piaget, J. Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962.

Roling, N.G., J. Ascroft, and F.W. Chege. The diffusion of innovations and the issue of equity in rural development, COMMUNICATION RESEARCH 3, 1976, pp. 155-170.

Stamm, K. and J. Grunig. Communication situations and cognitive strategies in resolving environmental issues, JOURNALISM QUARTERLY 54, 1977, pp. 713-720.


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Wittet, S. Information needs of southeast Asian refugees in clinical and hospital situations. Master's thesis, University of Washington 1983, in preparation.

Zweizig, D. and B. Dervin. Public library use, users, and uses: advances in knowledge of the characteristics and needs of the adult clientele of American public libraries, ADVANCES IN LIBRARIANSHIP 7, 1977, pp. 231-255.


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