Applying Social Network Analysis to STEM Education Research

Event Date: 
Mon, 04/20/2020 - 1:00pm to 2:15pm
Sponsoring Organization: 

View Slides | Watch Webinar Recording

Social network analysis is an analytical approach – including theoretical perspectives and methodological techniques – that focuses on the relationships among actors in a system using quantitative or qualitative data. Researchers using social network analysis aim to explore and understand patterns and structural properties of relationships and their implications for social action (Borgatti, Everett, & Johnson, 2013Scott, 2017). This method allows researchers to explore an array of topics at multiple levels of the education system relevant to STEM education, including student discourse, teacher professional learning, and large-scale education reform.

The second webinar in a 2-part series, a panel of two STEM education researchers, Dr. Maria Gonzalez-Howard from the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Susan Yonezawa from the University of California San Diego, will each offer an overview of their research, including the STEM research questions studied using social network analysis and findings identified as a result. Dr. Gonzalez-Howard will discuss her research that uses social network analysis to explore patterns that occurs between classroom members when they engage in the scientific practice of argumentation. Dr. Yonezawa will discuss her research on the San Diego Math Network, and how she measured the impact of the Network on its members and tracked the health of the network over time. The webinar will include a facilitated discussion on challenges panelists faced when using this method and the strategies they applied to overcome these challenges.

The first webinar in the series (held March 26 at 1pm ET) provides an introduction to social network analysis. Both webinars in the series are designed to be interactive. There will be time for audience participation and questions. Participants are encouraged to attend both sessions but may elect to attend just one of the two webinars in this series. 

Who should attend?

The webinars are designed for past, current, and aspiring DRK-12 principal investigators and project teams interested in learning more and applying social network analysis. The webinar swill be geared toward those who do not have much experience with the research method, though participants more familiar with social network analysis may also benefit from joining.


  • Maria Gonzalez-Howard, PhD is an Assistant Professor in STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research explores the intersections of teaching and learning science with bilingualism development. Specifically, she focuses on examining and identifying elements of teacher preparation, and the design of learning environments that support emerging bilingual and multilingual students’ scientific sensemaking as seen through their engagement in science practices. She has used social network analysis to explore the patterns that occur between classroom members (i.e., students and their teacher) when they engage in argumentation. She has also used social network analysis in combination with other methods, such as open and discourse analysis, to further dive into aspects of a classroom community’s experiences with argumentation.
  • Susan Yonezawa, PhD is a Project Research Scientist at UC San Diego-CREATE. Yonezawa straddles the worlds of policy, practice and research, working to embed research and design techniques and mindsets into the lived practices and policies of urban public schooling. Her research and evaluation supports and informs teacher professional development networks for K-14 educators in science, mathematics, reading and writing, and models and within college outreach programs. Yonezawa and colleagues recently wrapped up a four-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that deliberately fostered, tracked, and improved math educator networks across four regional school districts in San Diego County. Yonezawa led a team of district level leaders in mathematics to create learning events over a multi-year period. The team then measured the impact, year to year, of the educators’ network connections to track the health of the educators’ social networks (particularly regarding mathematics teaching) over time and note which forms of learning events seem to produce healthier networks. 


Following participation, audience members will:

  • Understand social network analysis terminology
  • Identify the importance and benefits of social network analysis
  • Understand key considerations for data collection, analysis, and network visualization
  • Consider ways social network analysis might be useful in future research in STEM education

Email Sarah Rand at

These webinars are supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1813777). Opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.