Dr. Brenda Dervin – “Sense-making Methodology Reader”

Posted on Sep 13, 2014

Dr. Brenda Dervin – “Sense-making Methodology Reader”

Sense-Making Methodology reader: Selected writings of Brenda Dervin. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. © Hampton Press and Brenda Dervin (2003)

Dervin’s research on situation-based information-seeking and use is the basis of User-based Design (UbD) theory. An essential principle is that humans are active as agents in bridging gaps as they observe and cognitively move within their environment, and can improve their condition by collaborating with others for mutual benefit. When taken into the instructional design context, UbD can inform how to design online learning systems that are complementary to the needs and behaviors of online learners.

For example, it is not unusual for online instructors to notice patterns in the way students struggle at certain points in a course from term to term. What kind of help do learners need in order to wright themselves? What effect does various kinds of help have upon learners? Do all learners at a certain point of struggle have the same needs?

Dervin offers a graphic that describes the various ways in which help is beneficial (below). Try to imagine how a learner would feel if he or she were helped in way that caused the effects portrayed below. How do these effects inform how to design an instructional system? What can an online instructor do to be a better facilitator? How could analytics play into this equation? 

Dr Brenda Dervin's portrayal of the kinds of help

Copyright 2006, Dr. Brenda Dervin

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