top of page

The question is very simple:

'How does the expert make sense of subtle changes and abnormality?'

But,... the mental process is much complicated...


The Functions of Sensemaking

Presently, my research interest is sensemaking as expertise. Empirically, anyone knows that experts in any field have their outstanding ability to make sense of subtle changes and hidden problems that laymen and novices overlook. Sensemaking is an essential mental function for situation awareness/assessment and problem detection. In fact, sensemaking is regarded as one of the most crucial functions in macrocognitive model (Klein & Wright, 2016). Klein et al. (2006) proposed the Data/Frame Theory of Sensemaking. This theory indicates that sensemaking is a mental process of fitting the data into a suitable frame and vice versa like a jigsaw puzzle. Although the data/frame theory of sensemaking illustrates the basic mental process of how the expert make sense of the targeted problems and situation, there is room for more consideration.


The Data/Frame theory of Sensemaking (Klein et al, 2016)


The Same Information, Different Interpretation


Currently, I have cognitive interviews with professionals. I noticed that people make sense of the same information differently. One of good examples would be acupuncture therapists. Although the patient has a chief complaint of health problem and there are certain acupuncture points (also known as acupoints) for the disease, different therapists choose different style of treatment. As a result, the effects of their treatment vary from person to person. However, it is sure that each of the acupuncture therapists strives to find out the right acupoints for the disease. Their mental activity is almost the same as the data/frame theory of sensemaking.   

Besides expertise and mental model, any experts usually have outstanding five senses: sight, hear, smell, touch, and taste. It is no doubt that human five senses greatly affect quality of sensemaking. While I compare the mental model of sensemaking of the expert with that of the novice, I also examine how the level of the expert's five senses is different from that of the novice.

What can we expect from my research?


If I successfully complete present research project, we can expect the following outcome and benefits:

1.) To be able to understand the functions and characteristics of the expert's sensemaking more elaborately (by comparing with the novice),

2.) To be able to apply the research findings to educational and training programs for the novices and beginners,

3.) To be able to apply the findings in one field to others.

Again, we still need further investigation on senemaking -how the expert makes sense of the situational changes and detect the problems. The basic theoretical model of sensemaking has been developed. Nevertheless, there should be other influential factors and elements on sensemaking. I'm focusing on this point.


Klein, G., Moon, B. & Hoffman, R. ''Making sense of sensemaking 2: A macrocognitive level model,'' IEEE. Computer Society. Sept./Oct. 2006. p.89.

Klein, G. & Wright, C. (2016). Macrocognition: From theory to tool box. in Frontiers in Psychology. Perspective. 2-3.

bottom of page