This book provides an introduction to the theories, methods, and applications that constitute the social network perspective. Unlike more general texts, this title is designed for those current and aspiring educational researchers learning how to study, conceptualize, and analyze social networks. The author's main intent is to encourage you to consider the social network perspective in light of your emerging research interests and evaluate how well this perspective illuminates the social complexities surrounding educational phenomena. Whether your interests lie in examining a peer's influence on students' achievement, the relationship between social support and teacher retention, or how the pattern of relations among parents contributes to schools' norms, the tools introduced in this book will provide you with a slightly different take on these and other phenomena. Unlike other approaches, this perspective accounts for the importance of relationships within formal structures, and the informal patterns of interaction that emerge, sustain, or recede. Relying on diverse examples drawn from the educational research literature, this book makes explicit how the theories and methods associated with social network analysis can be used to better describe and explain the social complexities surrounding varied educational phenomena.
Building on the introductory concepts briefly noted in Chapter 1 as well as the theoretical and methodological breakthroughs summarized in Chapter 2, this chapter reviews the basic means through which network data and their characteristics at either the ego or complete network level are represented. As such, this chapter provides you with an overview of the foundational concepts that are required building blocks for subsequent chapters. Using a number of graphs and matrices, this chapter emphasizes how network data differ from traditional social science actor-by-attribute data while also sharing some similarities. Because others have covered this material extensively in more comprehensive texts, the emphasis is on directing you to these other sources. To illustrate these basic concepts and provide you with opportunities to ...