DRK-12 Research Methods Webinar Series on Social Network Analysis

Webinar 1: Social Network Analysis - An Introduction
This webinar was held March 26, 2020. View Slides | Watch Webinar Recording

Webinar 2: Applying Social Network Analysis to STEM Education Research
This webinar was held April 20, 2020. View Slides | Watch Webinar Recording

About the Webinars:
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, 2013; Scott, 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.

To learn more about how to use social network analysis in STEM education research, join experts from the American Institutes for Research, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California, San Diego for two engaging webinars:

  • Webinar 1: Researchers Kyle Fagan, PhD, and Ben Kalina from the American Institutes for Research will provide an introduction to social network analysis, including an overview of key considerations for data collection, analysis, and network visualization. They will review the kinds of research questions that can be answered with social network analysis, present the merits and limitations of this method, and share tools and resources to help the DRK-12 community apply this method to their projects.
  •  Webinar 2: In the second part of this 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.

Both of the webinars 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.

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.

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.


  • Kyle Fagan, PhD, is a researcher at the American Institutes for Research who works with state, regional, and local agencies on projects at the intersection of educational and community change. His work is primarily focused on addressing issues of equity through collaborative research, evaluation, and technical support, with a concentration in collaboration between education, health, and social services. Dr. Fagan is the technical lead for multiple projects using social network analysis, leading the design, data collection, analysis, and communication of findings. He also leads AIR’s efforts to build capacity for social network analysis through staff training, resource development, and thought partnership. He holds a MA in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology and a PhD in Leadership, Policy, and Educational Change from Boston College.
  • Ben Kalina is a Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research. His research experiences include developing and implementing qualitative research approaches and study designs, including social network analysis. Mr. Kalina studies the health of networks in education systems and uses network analysis to study interventions in education systems and how networks affect intended outcomes. Mr. Kalina served as a project director for studies to analyze social networks of Teach For America alumni and Education Pioneers alumni and how these networks may impact local education policies. Mr. Kalina holds a Master’s degree in Education and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • 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 srand@air.org