Studying community development: a network analytical approach

TitleStudying community development: a network analytical approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHass, CA, Genz, F, Kustusch, MBridget, Ouime, P-PA, Pomian, K, Sayre, EC, Zwolak, JP

Research shows that community plays a central role in learning, and strong community engages students and aids in student persistence. Thus, understanding the function and structure of communities in learning environments is essential to education. We use social network analysis to explore the community dynamics of students in a pre-matriculation, two-week summer program. Unlike previous network analysis studies in PER, we build our networks from classroom video that has been coded for student interactions using labeled, directed ties. We define 3 types of interaction: on task interactions (regarding the assigned task), on topic interactions (having to do with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)), and off topic interactions (unrelated to the assignment or STEM). To study the development of community in this program, we analyze the shift in conversation topicality over the course of the program. Conversations are more on-task toward the end of the program and we propose that this conversational shift represents a change in student membership within their forming community.