The effects of the social network upon academic performance in three cohorts of an undergraduate degree
Social networks have been seen to have an effect upon the performance of both individuals and teams within organisations. This thesis aims to explore the effects of such social networks on the performance of individuals and groups in three cohorts of undergraduate students in management education. Information on the social networks of the three cohorts was gathered with the use of a roster choice questionnaire. The questionnaire listed each member of the cohort and required the individual to identify with whom he / she is friends and with whom he / she communicates regarding academic related issues. This data was used to investigate the social networks of the three cohorts, the placing of individuals within these networks, and interactions within and amongst self-assigned project groups. Further information was gathered regarding the project groups in the form of a peer group assessment. The students were asked to rate the members of their group on a Likert scale in terms of effort within the group, intellectual contribution, and overall co-operation with the other members of their work group. Within an educational context a student's performance is measured by their grades. The relationship between individual and group grades and the network and peer group assessment data was investigated. Results indicate that there is significant correlation between students' grades and the degree to which they are sought out for communication in all three cohorts. In the second and third year cohorts there was also significant correlation between grades and the 'in degree' of friendship. In the third year cohort there was evidence of significant correlation between students' grades and their `out degree' of communication. These results have implications for both educators and students. Educators should make students aware of the effects of social networks and encourage students to participate in their social networks by promoting group work, applying team building exercises and supplying the facilities in which students can socialise. Students should attempt to socialise within their cohort, become involved in both the friendship and communication networks that are available.