Bringing social network analysis to higher education: How do peer interactions inform teaching decisions?
Thursday 4:30pm - 5:00pm Brighton 1/2
Despite the repeated calls for the widespread use of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs), faculty cite various barriers to adoption of these practices. Many instructional change initiatives have highlighted the critical role of social networks for the propagation of innovations. To this end, we employed an exploratory mixed methods design to investigate how teaching-specific social networks in science departments relate to the dissemination of EBIPs. We first conducted a survey asking faculty who they speak to about teaching both within and beyond their departments. This survey was administered in geology, biology, and chemistry departments at three research-intensive institutions at varying phases of institutional change initiatives. We further explored the nature of the teaching-focused discussions identified through the survey by conducting semi-structured interviews with a subset of survey respondents. These interviews were conducted with several faculty in each department with a sampling strategy that maximized differences in faculty members' instructional practices and connectedness in the networks. Participants were asked about who they talk to about teaching as well as the context and content of these conversations. We analyzed the interview transcripts using qualitative content analysis considering theories of trust, values creation, and interdependence. Our results will help reveal how change initiatives can leverage faculty social networks to increase dissemination of EBIPs.