Structures of MeaningTo compensate for the limitations of the Repertory Grid technology, the structure of meaning techniques invite a richer and more open exploration of a topic, event or situation. ‘The number of items of meaning that can be represented within a given range of convenience can be extended well beyond the 8 to 25 which are the pragmatic limitations of the grid; that is, up to 60 to 100 items or more. The items are not restricted to placing on bipolar constructs nor are they restricted by scaling procedures. The tight differentiation of meaning in the grid is relaxed within a less-formal open relationship. Whatever the range and class of item elicited, these can be successively sorted to uncover the enduring relationships between them. A two-dimensional – or, on the computer, a multi-dimensional – pattern of items expressing these relationships can be constructed. Levels of structure emerge as items, clusters, and clusters of clusters. Much of the literature on networks, hierarchies and methods of pruning networks into particular structures has proved useful in enabling us to expand our procedures. Different forms of structures are useful for different purposes, domains and situations.

Structures of meaning can be used by one person tracing out their increased understanding before and after a learning event. It can also be used for two or more persons who have been present at the same event or who share other events, having the same type of meaningful activity.

The following diagrams are Lisa’s visual expression of the meaning she constructed firstly after reading a printed article. Then after a fairly detailed Learning Conversation about what she had made of what she had read after a second reading of the same text.