Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roskilde day III - CarrieLynn D. Reinhard

"Dervin's Sense-Making Methodology: Applications to Interviews and Experiments." CarrieLynn Reinhard use SMM in media reception studies. Consider where methods can be in empirical work (both qualitative and quantitative):

• data collecting famework methods
• data collection methods
• data analysis methods

The "gaps" (questions/confusions, muddles/riddles, angst) are essential in sense-making studies. Building bridges over gaps are that which resolves or answers questions, so that whatever it is makes sense. SMM interviews study human activity by being situated and contextual, by empowering the subjective experience, by understanding the struggle between agency and structure, by being triangulating, circling, redundant, repetitive, digging. Fundamental SMM mandates to interviews:

• minimal researcher intrusion, especially with nouns
• empowering informant to speak their "real" by allowing time/space and their own words and recognizing their ability to self-theorize and be different across time/space
• seeking to build trust in repertoire through empowering informants, redundancy of question-askings

Interviews can be designed to look at one sense-making/unmaking moment or to look at a series of seemingly related or unrelated moments. Reinhard shows a list of sense-making questions, such as: What happened? What stood in the way? What were you trying to deal with? Questions like these are intended to tap situations, gaps, bridges, or outcomes sought and/or obtained. The intention might also be to dig deeper into gaps and struggles, dig deeper into what led to an evaluation or to dig deeper into how things help. Triangulation in two levels to anchor the questions and get more insight into the experiences an informant might have had.

Entry point: Can be at any of the 4 parts of the sense-making/unmaking moment, full level 1 triangulation needed to complete the surround of the moment. Critical entry: Identified ahead of time as trigger to elicit the informant's recollection of an entry point, which must be phrased so as not to impose interviewer's nouns on informants. Reinhard then discusses different types of interviews: In a micro-moment time-line interview people are asked to recall all the (linear) steps that occured during an event/time. A "life-line" interview, on the other hand, asks the informant to recall all the time/space events that could fit the critical entry's criteria in a chronological order. A "micro-element" interview focuses on a specific, single event triangulated by level 1 and 2 questions. A "structured focus group interview" allows one person at a time to answer the questions, while the rest write down their reactions in a "self-journal." These self-journals can then be shared and lead to another round of discussion.

SMM is a methodology. Interviews and experiments are both methods. Experiment does not necessarily mean only data collection through surveys, observation, physiological measures etc — interviews can also be used to gather data.

Pros: Large data corpus; collection of subjective and objective data simultaneously; using SMM allowed for comparing time/space events as well as probing in-depth into informants' experiences - both during and after sessions. Cons: Large data corpus: audio, video, text; carryover effect, problem from experimental perspective opportunity from interpretative perspective; artificiality of experiences to everyday media experiences, but from SMM perspective still unique sense-making/unmaking moments to be analyzed.

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