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Social Networks, Pedagogy, and Weak Ties: The Impact of Collaborative Social Capital on Grades and Relevance for Political Science *

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Title: Social Networks, Pedagogy, and Weak Ties: The Impact of Collaborative Social Capital on Grades and Relevance for Political Science *


1
Social Networks, Pedagogy, and Weak TiesThe
Impact of Collaborative Social Capital on Grades
and Relevance for Political Science
  • Stephen Bird, Boston University - Political
    Science sbird_at_bu.edu
  • APSA Teaching and Learning Conference
  • Washington, DC, February 19-21 2005
  • Many thanks to Steve Borgatti (Boston College)
    for important comments
  • in the development of this research.

2
social capital and social network theory
  • multi-disciplinary
  • political science, organizational studies,
    sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology,
    etc.
  • general network theory physics, biology
  • social capital refers to those stocks of social
    trust, norms and networks that people can draw
    upon to solve common problems.
  • networks of civic engagement, such as
    neighborhood associations, sports clubs, and
    cooperatives,
  • the denser these networks, the more likely that
    members of a community will cooperate for mutual
    benefit.
  • occurs even in the face of persistent problems of
    collective action (tragedy of the commons,
    prisoner's dilemma etc.)

3
relevance to politics
  • political participation and civic engagement
    voting and campaigns, understanding politics,
    parent-teacher assoc., religious groups, civic
    organizations
  • De Tocqueville considered US democracy a success
    because of extensive civic organizations
  • role of black churches in civil rights movement
  • leadership issues (carter network and its
    implications)
  • how the network is shaped can affect ability to
    lead, etc.
  • information diffusion
  • Howard Deans grass roots internet campaign

4
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5
multiple channels
  • information flows (e.g. learning about jobs,
    learning about candidates running for office,
    exchanging ideas at college, etc.) depend on
    social capital
  • norms of reciprocity (mutual aid) dependent on
    social networks
  • bonding networks that connect folks who are
    similar sustain particularized (in-group)
    reciprocity
  • bridging networks that connect individuals who
    are diverse sustain generalized reciprocity
  • collective action depends upon social networks
  • it also can foster new networks
  • broader identities, solidarity encouraged by
    social networks. translate mentality from I
    into a we

6
four main points from this specific research
  • impact,
  • collaboration,
  • difference between diffusion and collaboration
  • weak ties,
  • why are they important
  • why might they be less important in collaborative
    environment (but turn out to be just as
    important!)
  • benefit limitations

7
four models of learning
8
an experiment in PO 101
  • Survey
  • interactions between students
  • distinction between social and academic
    interactions
  • additional controls
  • political affiliation dummy variable
  • motivation
  • year in school (freshman, senior)
  • no effect
  • probable collaboration (proof later)

9
Social Networks and Grades Questionnaire
Stephen Bird (sbird_at_bu.edu) (all information will
be kept confidential, names will be changed in
the finished analyses and reports) Your Name Year
Circle one Freshman Sophomore
Junior Senior Graduate/other Party
affiliation? Circle one None Republican
Democrat Green Libertarian
Communist Other_______________ How
motivated are you to do well in this
class? Circle one (least motivated) 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (very
motivated) Academic Interaction Write down the
names (first and last go find them and ask them
their name if you dont know it) of people in
this class with whom you interact on an academic
basis (this means study partner, someone that you
have casual or intense conversations about
politics or other aspects of class in or
outside of class, someone that you sit next to on
purpose for academic reasons, etc.). Put each
name in one box only, more than one name can go
in each box Minimal interaction Medium
interaction Intense interaction You can have
academic and social interactions with the same
person and the degree of interaction doesnt have
to be the same. E.g. you could have an intense
academic interaction with Morgan Gerr and a
minimal social interaction with Morgan
Gerr. Social/Friendship Interaction Write down
the names (first and last go find them and ask
them their name if you dont know it) of people
in this class with whom you interact on a social
basis (this means a friend, an acquaintance,
someone you party with, a partner i.e.
boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.). Put each name in
one box only, more than one name can go in each
box Minimal interaction Medium
interaction Intense interaction
10
impact
  • clear correlation between grades and network
    interaction
  • measurements
  • centrality (freeman degree)
  • structural holes
  • issues
  • causality
  • other controls (address later in presentation)

11
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13
legend for network map
  • color of node student grade
  • yellow a
  • green b
  • orange c
  • black d or f
  • size of node degree network rating
  • smallest circle 0 interactions
  • largest 9 interactions
  • line width intensity of interaction
  • thin line low intensity
  • medium medium
  • thick high intensity

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15
regression results effect on grade
All Models above use dichotomized results for
interactions (i.e. all interaction values have
been reduced to 1)
16
collaboration or diffusion?
  • does the difference matter?
  • central clique versus entire class (known as
    component)
  • if diffusion process then the central clique
    component will have a greater effect on grades
    than small components or single components.
  • if collaboration then there should be no effect
    from the component.

17
regression results diffusion or collaboration
All Models above use dichotomized results for
interactions (i.e. all interaction values have
been reduced to 1)
18
intensity versus weak ties
  • counter-intuitive result
  • normally weak ties are reasonable result in
    context of information diffusion
  • (per Granovetter weak ties, and Burt
    structural holes)
  • hypothesis intensity of ties should have an
    effect in a collaborative interaction
  • research actually demonstrates reduced effect
    from more intense ties

19
weighted versus dichotomized models (intensity
versus weak ties) - dichotomizationof ties
means value of a weighted tie is reduced to 1
Model 6 demonstrates strongest r2 and best
coefficient all ties dichotomized
20
issues
  • Performance (i.e. grades) as learning
  • lack of controls
  • previous GPA
  • study time (solo study time)
  • attendance
  • TF influence/grading variability
  • Although grading consistency between TFs was
    checked and corrected for in two circumstances
  • can groups be forced within teaching process?

21
implications teaching
  • teaching political science (or anything else
    really)
  • foster collaborative learning
  • Learning activities that increase interactions
    and comfort with other students
  • not necessary to increase intensity of ties
  • classroom processes that are brief but expose
    students to a variety of collaborative learning
    sources

22
implications research
  • research in political science(and other fields
    affected by social networks)
  • implications for entrepreneurial responses of
    nations to globalization pressures
  • Castells (Network Society), Hall Soskice
    (Varieties of Capitalism)
  • implications for civic engagement, public
    participation, and social capital
  • ground-up and top-down models
  • Putnam, Nin, Bo Rothstein etc.
  • implications for dispute resolution and conflict
    literature both in American and IR fields

Castells, Manuel. 2000. The Rise of the Network
Society. Second ed, The Information Age Economy,
Society and Culture. Malden, MA Blackwell
Publishing. Hall, Peter A., and David Soskice,
eds. 2001. Varieties of Capitalism The
Institutional Foundations of Comparative
Advantage. New York Oxford University Press.
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