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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making meaning of sensemaking: A phenomenographic study of collective sensemaking
by Horangic, Craig P., Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2016, 145; 10164662
Abstract (Summary)

In this phenomenographic study I examined the described experiences of participants in a community-based participatory research initiative that employed sensemaking techniques based on narrative inquiry and complexity science. My research, which involved an analysis of 21 interviews, revealed that participants frequently experience confusion and frustration, which provoked anger and defensiveness, as they engaged in the sensemaking process. Some participants move beyond this, particularly if given an opportunity to reflect upon the experience, and begin to identify positive aspects of the process. The sensemaking process can and does produce heightened self-awareness, greater empathy, and understanding of the underlying issue for some.

Conclusions include (1) Participants would benefit from greater grounding in the underlying theories and their role in the process. This is important because confusion about the process consumed a lot of cognitive energy, and in some cases, disengagement from the process. The defensive response limits acquiring enhanced understanding, resulting in decreased active participation as well as heightened skepticism about the outcome. (2) Reflection at the conclusion of the process aided in the growth of awareness. A number of participants specifically acknowledged the value of their personal reflection. However, there was no opportunity within the sessions for individuals to process their experience or for group reflection. Including a reflection process element into the sensemaking process would make it much more likely that participants will be able to incorporate the new insights into their underlying perceptions. (3) The described experiences of the participants reveal the growth of awareness about the subject in question, with their conceptions closely paralleling other learning processes. Some participants talked about the collective understanding of reality as depicted in the sensemaking processes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Willis, David B., Steier, Frederick
Commitee: Agger-Gupta, Dorothy E., Jorgenson, Jane, Shrum, Christopher
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: The School of Human and Organization Development
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research
Keywords: Complex facilitation, Participatory action research, Sensemaking, Stories
Publication Number: 10164662
ISBN: 978-1-369-19154-7
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