Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Jon F. Schamber

First Committee Member

Linda L. Nolan

Second Committee Member

E. Eugene Rice


In recent years the field of communication has been experiencing a movement toward newer non-tradtional approaches to the study of communication and information. Among these newer approaches is a growing body of research that focuses on interpretive behavior in the communication process.

Brenda Dervin's Sense-Making model of communication/information has been the most widely used interpretive theory of information to date. Sense-Making focuses primarily upon the role of the receiver in the communication process and how individuals construct meaning in specific situations. As a result, Sense-Making has not attended adequately to larger shared frameworks of meaning and the effects that they have upon information seeking and use.

It is the purpose of this thesis to strengthen Dervin's theory of Sense-Making by gaining a deeper view of the individual in the construction process and yet broadening the meaning making context to include structural concerns. The work of William Perry on cognitive and ethical development will be examined and applied to Sense-Making theory and data to provide a more in-depth understanding of how individuals construct meaning and use information. As a framework for examining shared structures of meaning, James Fowler's theory of faith development has also been applied to Sense-Making theory and data with particular emphasis on relational aspects. These theories are applied to Sense-Making in an effort to develop a more complete view of the individual in the communication process.



Included in

Communication Commons



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