In a paper entitled "Qualitative Research in Information Management" Jack Glazier and Ronald Powell take a look at how humans process and use information and define the methodology, theory and body of findings as Sense-Making. In chapter six of their paper, they look at the Sense-Making Qualitative and Quantitative Methodology from the Mind's Eye of the User. They make the assumption that because humans are involved, there is a discontinuity in perception based on different conditions of the human depending on the time and space in which an event occurs. These differences come down to so many factors, cultural, physiological, almost any situational conditions.
They describe a common problem with the way we have collected data in the past on how humans use information, in that the questions we ask come from a system standpoint, where the interviewee is asked questions that assume that they will bend to the will of the system, rather than the system changing to meet the needs of the interviewee. In 6 step, they outline how one can change this approach to be more user centered by focusing on the Situation/Gap/Help model.
The study of information-needs places an emphasis on these 6 questions:
1) How does the individual see themselves as stopped?
2) What questions or confusions have been defined?
3) What strategies does the individual prefer for arriving at answers?
4) What success has this person had in arriving at answers?
5) How was he/she helped by answers or how did he/she put the answers to use?
6) What barriers did the individual see standing in the way to arrive at the answers?
This could be a really powerful tool for my students when they are confronted with a gap in knowledge. For those students who get "stuck" or don't "get it" in class, it would be worth stepping back and doing a micro-moment timeline interview. The form that is in the paper could become a wonderful tool for students to think through how they bridge their own gaps and how I, as their teacher could help them when they feel stuck.
Below is a great example of how the interview is conducted. I could imagine having students work in pairs to think through their knowledge gaps. This would also be a great tool for reflection at the mid-point or end-point of a project. Either way, I plan un using this as a great way to help students think through how they can improve and how I can improve the teaching/learning process. At the very least, the 6 questions posed above would make for substantive reflection or journal questions at the end of a project. I'm very excited to try them next year in class!
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!