These papers address social relationships through co-worker perception and peer influence. The first paper, Hawe paper, address social connections among coworkers at a high school and how understanding these relationships can be important for effectively implementing a health promotion intervention program for the high school. The second paper, DeLay paper, uses SNA along with randomized controlled methodology to evaluate how adolescents choose friendships and how these friendships influence their behavior.

Hawe: “Use of Social Network Analysis to Map the Social Relationships of Staff and Teachers at School.”

What is the research question?

What are the social relationships in a school among teachers and staff? How does network analysis allow us to capture the social structure of the high school staff and teachers at the start of a whole-school health promotion intervention? Can we identify key players and gatekeepers who might be crucial to getting the intervention off the ground?

How is the data collected?

Collection started with in-depth face-to-face interviews with all staff and teachers in a high school in a province of Alberta with a total student population of 556. Then, a self-completed questionnaire was administered to staff and teachers attending regularly scheduled professional development activity.

What is the sample population?

Teachers and staff at a relatively small high school in Alberta.

What are the nodes?

Nodes were the teachers and staff.

What are the links?

Links were the relationships between the teachers and staff measured by five questions:

  1. Knew a person by name
  2. Knew a person more personally (defined by knowing personal information such as the name of a member of a person’s family)
  3. Engaged in regularly occurring conversations with a person (defined as more than just saying “hi”)
  4. Sought advice from a person in relation to a school matter
  5. Socialized with that person outside of school hours

What are the results?

Network density was related to what might be thought of as the intensity of the relationship. Network density was higher for more superficial relationships, such as knowing a person by name, and smaller for socializing. These results are found in Table 1 and Figure 1.

How does SNA as methodology help advance our understandings of these types of relationships?

The authors note that SNA methods can be useful in identifying people of strategic influence, so that interventions can be tailored to them. Second, the investigators can better appreciate the structural position of those of whom nominees in turn are linked, leading to more strategic choices for health promotion intervention agents than the traditional methods used.

DeLay: “Changing Friend Selection in Middle School: A Social Network Analysis of a Randomized Intervention Study Designed to Prevent Adolescent Problem Behavior.”

What is the research question?

In order to prevent early adolescent problem behavior including substance use, antisocial behavior, and violence, how do interventions effect friend selection? Does assignment to the intervention compared to the control condition within public middle schools affect friendship selection? Is there an association between middle school friendship choices and their lasting impact on deviancy training with friends five years later?

How is the data collected?

Data were collected through the intervention study. A curriculum is used to engage parents and students and information was collected through the intervention study. The authors mention measuring specific items but do not explicitly state how the information is collected, which is a limitation to the manuscript. Based on the context, I infer that the measures were collected through a survey.

What is the sample population?

Adolescents (n= 998) recruited in 6th grade from three middle schools participating in the Family Check-up model intervention study. There were three waves of data collection from 6th to 9th grade.

What are the nodes?

The students were the nodes.

What are the links?

The friend selection and friend influences were the links between the students.

What are the results?

In School 1 and School 3, there was low network density, conscious choice of friendships (indicated by the out-degree), a tendency toward mutual friendships (reciprocity), friends of friends tended to be selected as friends (transitive triplets), adolescents remained toward lower levels of deviant peer affiliation (linear tendency), and there was some evidence of dispersion in deviant peer affiliations. In School 2, the effect of out-degree and reciprocity held, however, there was no evidence of network transitivity (transitive triplets) or identifiable trends in deviant peer affiliation (linear tendency). Authors found that a randomized public middle school intervention can disrupt the formation of deviation peer groups and diminish levels of adolescent deviance five years later.

How does SNA as methodology help advance our understandings of these types of relationships?

SNA coupled with randomized controlled methodology allowed for a sophisticated strategy to answer the research questions presented in this study, providing more detailed descriptions of the network structure.

 

References:

Penelope Hawe, Laura Ghali; Use of social network analysis to map the social relationships of staff and   teachers at school, Health Education Research, Volume 23, Issue 1, 1 February 2008, Pages 62      69,  https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyl162

DeLay, D., Ha, T., Van Ryzin, M., Winter, C., & Dishion, T. J. (2016). Changing Friend Selection in Middle School: A Social Network Analysis of a Randomized Intervention Study Designed to Prevent Adolescent Problem Behavior. Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research17(3), 285-94.

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