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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Insights from the inside : practitioner perspectives on planning Lewis, Christine Harumi


This interpretive study was designed to learn more about program planning from the practitioner's perspective, to understand how those directly involved in planning make sense of thenwork. Of particular interest was practitioner experience in non-formal educational settings where education is not the primary purpose. Six practitioners responsible for planning health promotion programs in hospitals and public health departments participated in three in-depth interviews. Findings in three thematic areas were analyzed using insights from two frame perspectives (Elgstrom & Riis, 1992; Schon & Rein, 1994): Language and metaphors of practice: Practitioners' comments reflected more the uncertain, dynamic environment of planning, and the people-orientation of their work, and less the technical-rational approach to planning Practitioner metaphors embed organizational and societal values. As metaphors both reflect and shape practice, we begin to understand how we socially and politically frame and construct our experiences. Factors influencing practice: Practitioners identified three key frame factors: the understanding of the program concept itself, in this case, health promotion; senior management commitment and direction; and the support and involvement of colleagues. These factors may be viewed as negotiable or non-negotiable depending on the individual practitioner. Professional performance: Practitioner roles and strategies reflected the people-work of practice: communicating, coordinating, negotiating to maintain support for the program Skills in such areas as group process, conflict resolution and consensus-building are key to effective practice. Situated frame reflection with colleagues within the immediate context of practice and at different levels of action frames (program, organizational and societal) may broaden the practitioner's awareness of the assumptions and implications of planning. The study affirms the social interactive nature of program planning currently portrayed in the literature and points out several key implications. By attending to how practitioners frame and act on planning challenges, by expanding the language of planning to reflect practitioner experience, by developing relevant curriculum for the interpersonal people work of practice, and by examining the ethical base of practice and its micro-macro level implications-- we may work toward development of planning theories which better reflect the richness and complexity of practice.

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