- The significance of Brenda Dervin's 'sense-making' approach and its application to user study
- No.34, p.1-16
In the area of information needs and user studies, the sense-making approach proposed by Brenda Dervin is one of the influential theories which adopt user-centered viewpoints.
‘Sense-making’ theory is a set of conceptual and theoretical premises and related methodologies for assessing how people make sense of their worlds and how they use information resources in the information seeking process. While examining the ‘sense-making’ approach, we tend to put emphasis just on three major elements, i.e., ‘situation’, ‘gap’ and ‘use’. The significance of this approach would rather be the frame of reference in which one understands the other person’s information needs.
In this paper, three studies by R. M. Harris, N. M. Betts, and T. L. Jacobson, which adopt the sense-making approach as theoretical foundations, are examined in terms of how each researcher him/herself recognizes the significance of this approach. As a result, it is revealed that they tried to connect each of three elements with human information needs and to give explanations to human information seeking behavior.
The goal of the sense-making approach is partly to understand human information seeking behavior from the holistic viewpoint, and partly to use the ‘situation-gap-use’ model as a framework. This finding implies the future possibility of such a holistic approach in information use study as Devin’s.
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