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.

Groups and Positions in Complete Networks

Objectives

The objective of this chapter is to show how a complete network can be analyzed further by using different algorithms to identify its groups and positions. You will also evaluate the difference between the “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches through which groups are identified. Unlike most social science, the idea is to identify these groups through their relational data, not an exogenous attribute such as grade level, departmental affiliation, or years of experience. After reviewing these different approaches, you will learn how the concept of group differs from position. Positions are also identified through relational data, and you will learn the different ways through which this is done. These different ways are based on contrasting definitions of equivalence, a key ...

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