Using Social Network Analysis to Measure Student Collaboration in an Undergraduate Capstone Course
Social network analysis offers a unique way for instructors to visualize collaboration and communication within a course and see relationships between individu¬als, groups, teams, or cliques. We used social network analysis to measure the growth of collaboration in the capstone AGEDS 450 Farm Management and Oper¬ation course at Iowa State University. With the strate-gic implementation of collaboratively intense assign¬ments, student collaboration grew from the midpoint of the semester to the end of the semester. Overall density of the network increased from 0.25 at the midpoint to 0.35 at the end of the semester (40% growth). Each stu¬dent’s number of communication ties increased over the course of the semester to 17.2. Average geodesic dis¬tance between nodes decreased 11.7% from the mid¬point to the end of the semester, resulting in an average pathway length of 1.66 to connect any two students; this improved communication efficiency in the course. No cutpoint existed at the midpoint or the end of semester, showing no risk of collapse in the network. The overall network became more complex, indicating a more inclu¬sive collaborative environment. We recommend that instructors include structured activities that emphasize student collaboration to help develop strong information networks in other courses.