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Conference on Applications of SNA to Educational Research and Evaluation


With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Westat hosted a conference on May 5 and 6, 2009, to explore the applications of social network analysis (SNA) for educational research and evaluation. SNA refers to a theory and related methodologies that seek to define and describe relationships among people, institutions, and/or knowledge strands. In contrast to formal organizational relationships such as might be depicted on an organizational chart, SNA helps uncover the informal relationships that drive behaviors and decisions. SNA can be used to characterize both a network as a whole and the place of individuals within the network structure. While SNA has a history of use in business, defense, and industry, its application to education is relatively recent. Westat sought, therefore, to increase understanding of the ways in which SNA has, or could be used, in education--especially NSF's Math and Science Partnerships--and begin a dialogue about potentially fruitful new applications. This Proceedings Report documents the papers presented at the conference and the discussions that took place both after each paper and at the end of the conference.