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Department-level change: Using social network analysis to map the hidden structure of academic departments Documents

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Department-level change: Using social network analysis to map the hidden structure of academic departments 

written by Charles R. Henderson and Kathleen Quardokus

Efforts to improve teaching in higher education have often focused on individual faculty. However, there is a growing consensus that the academic department is a more productive focus of change initiatives. Yet, academic departments are not all the same. Understanding the structure of relationships within a department is important for identifying who should be involved in the change effort and in what roles. It is also likely that a successful change effort will modify the structure of relationships within a department. This paper presents the preliminary results from a study of two academic departments at a research university. A social network for each department was constructed based on a web survey that asked faculty to identify colleagues with whom they had teaching-related conversations. We identify characteristics of the individuals and departments and describe how learning about this hidden structure can be beneficial to change agents.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified June 26, 2013