Understanding emerging knowledge spillovers in small-group learning settings, a social network perspective
Symposium Organisers: Bart Rienties, University of Surrey, Koen Veermans, University of Turku
This symposium tries to assess whether teams also learn from the experiences of other teams in their class through their friendship relationships within the networks and what the underlying mechanisms for creating these learning spaces are. It will be explored how dynamic Social Network Analysis allows researchers and teachers to capture and understand the complexity of knowledge spillovers occurring inside and outside the classroom. Social Network Analysis (SNA) can be considered as a wide-ranging strategy to explore social structures to uncover the existence of social positions of (sub)groups within the network (Katz, et al., 2004; Krackhardt & Stern, 1988; Rienties, et al., 2009). In a review of Social Network Analysis (SNA) for small groups, Katz et al. (2004) argue that the network perspective can help researchers to identify and explore social network interaction features in teams or networks. The three papers of this symposium, which are situated in small-group settings in Oviedo (Spain), problem-based learning in Maastricht (The Netherlands), and project-based learning in Guildford (UK) all use active learning methods in combination with technology supported networked learning arrangements, whereby students learn and interact in small-group settings but also have several formal and informal activities to share knowledge between students and teams. All three papers use Social Network Analysis (SNA) in their analyses, and together their contributions address three fundamental questions in the symposium
1) How do knowledge spillovers between learners and teams develop (over time)?
2) How do prior friendships enhance or hamper knowledge spillovers in networks?
Answering these questions will create a better theoretical foundation for the design of group based networked learning environments that enhance knowledge spillovers. Analysis of the relation between social network relationships and knowledge spillovers can provide insights into the boundary conditions under which these knowledge spillovers occur. These insights can subsequently be utilized in the design of learning environments and for implementing structures that help to install these boundary conditions in educational institutions
Dr Tuire Palonen, Senior researcher at Center for Learning Research at University of Turku, Finland.
Introduction - .pdf
Understanding emerging knowledge spillovers in team-group learning settings: Active team learning with limited friendships
Nuria Hernandez Nanclares, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain, Bart Rienties, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom, Piet Van den Bossche, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium & Maastricht University, the Netherlands
In classroom teaching, teachers make increasingly use of collaborative learning formats such as team learning, and educational technology to enhance the learning experience of students. Most research on team-learning focuses on learning within teams. However, to what extent do learners also share knowledge between teams during a course? This study took place in a third-year course on International economics, whereby 57 students were divided into eleven teams and learned and collaborated in an innovative blended learning environment. For ascertaining whether inter- and intra-team learning and knowledge spillovers occurred during the course, we employed a method developed within the field of Social Network Analyses (SNA). We measured prior friendship relations during the first week, while possible knowledge spillovers between learners and teams were assessed during week 4, week 7 and week 14.
The results indicate that knowledge spillovers across teams do occur over time. All eleven teams developed outside links to other teams after 14 weeks. Already after seven weeks, the average number of external links tripled to 20.0, which implies that the number of external links is (almost) equal to the internal links with the teams, and the E-I index was -0.12. In other words, substantial knowledge spillovers occurred after seven weeks. Finally, after 14 weeks the average number of external links was 18.4 and the External-Internal (E-I) index is -0.17, implying that in comparison to the beginning of the course learning occurred both within teams as well as outside teams but relatively more within their team rather than outside their team. Friendship relations were positively correlated to the three learning networks. However, the size of these correlations was lower than the size of correlations between the three learning networks, indicating that new learning links (i.e. knowledge spillovers) were established over time, as confirmed by follow-up multiple regression quadratic assignment procedures. Our results indicate that pre-existing friendships play a part in knowledge spillovers, but dynamics between learners and teams over time seem more important.
Dynamic social network analysis, knowledge spillovers, class-room learning, Wiki.
Full Paper - .pdf
Understanding emerging knowledge spillovers in small-group learning settings: The role of project-based learning, friendship and work-relations
Bart Rienties, Peter Alcott, Tony Willis, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom, Katerina Bohle Carbonell, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands
Learning in authentic projects is supposed to enhance graduates knowledge, skills and future employment. However, in programmes with a large number of students, implementing project-based learning and providing helpful guidance, extensive feedback, and support by teachers can be cumbersome. While peer assessment traditionally is used for grading or marking peers, there is a call for more formative (for learning) assessment and feedback using ICT which goes beyond marking and grading. This study took place in a post-graduate course on Event Operations management, whereby 69 primarily international students were divided into nine teams and worked together for a sustained period of fourteen weeks on a high-stake assignment, namely running a successful and profitable event. For ascertaining whether inter- and intra-team learning and knowledge spillovers occurred during the course, we employed a method developed within the field of Social Network Analyses (SNA). We measured prior friendship and work relations during the first week, while possible knowledge spillovers between learners and teams were assessed during week 14.
In contrast to previous research on evolution of knowledge spillovers in small-group settings by Hernandez Nanclares et al. (2012), our results seem to indicate that knowledge spillovers across teams reduced over time. While all nine teams had substantial work and friendship relations outside their own team at the beginning of the module, over time all teams became more focussed on learning within teams. While pre-existing friendship ties are significantly correlated to the post- measurements of learning and work networks, pre-existing work ties are more strongly correlated with learning ties after fourteen weeks, as confirmed by multiple regression quadratic assignment procedures. Although further research is needed to confirm the underlying dynamics why teams and learners became more internally focussed, we hypothesise that the instructional design (i.e. focus on competition) and task-assignment may have a stronger impact on reducing knowledge spillovers between learners and teams.
Dynamic social network analysis, knowledge spillovers, project-based learning, peer assessment.
Full Paper - .pdf
Understanding emerging knowledge spillovers in small-group learning settings: informal learning in a Problem Based Learning system
Juliette Hommes, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, Bart Rienties, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Collaborative learning is widely acknowledged to facilitate student learning. Informal interaction among students is suggested to be a key element to facilitate learning in such context. Previous research showed that students who are more central in the social networks of the class perform better in terms of exam scores. Although previous studies have focused on the association between social networks and performance, this study tries to elucidate how informal learning stimulates student learning. More and more studies show the importance of not only intra-team collaboration, but also inter-team relationships. We hypothesized that students that learned most, also have more external ties with other tutorial groups.
A social network analysis was done among 301 undergraduate medical students involved in a Problem-Based Learning curriculum. The E-I index indicates the interteam-relationships or “knowledge spillovers”. Students’ learning was represented by the performance of the module test. Graphical analyses show that students have mainly inter-team relationships in the three networks (friendships, getting study related information and giving study related information). The E-I index supports these findings with indexes of .801 for the friendship network, .567 for getting information and .481 for giving other information. Students with the highest grades on the knowledge test were not found to have more inter-team relations than intra-team relations. Instead, the number of relationships was only correlated with student learning. This study provides understanding in the (informal) learning process. More research is needed with a focus on the contents of the interaction between students and the relationships.
Dynamic social network analysis, knowledge spillovers, problem-based learning, medical education.
Full paper not available