SAGE Musings: Mapping the SAGE 2YC Change Agent Network

Debra Bragg, Bragg & Associates, Inc.
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published Nov 21, 2017 10:15am

One goal for the SAGE 2YC project is to develop a self-sustaining network of geoscience faculty members at two-year colleges, a network that will endure beyond the end of the grant. It's the job of the project's evaluation team to evaluate the project's success in reaching its goals. How does one go about measuring a network?

One method for measuring a network is called social network analysis (e.g., Quardokus and Henderson, 2015). If you are a SAGE 2YC Cohort I Change Agent, you completed a survey at our June 2017 workshop in Tacoma. This survey asked about your interactions with other members of the SAGE 2YC project - your fellow Cohort I Change Agents, the project leader team, and the research and evaluation team. The survey was short but it provided a lot of useful information about who we are as a group, and I want to use this blog post to share some interesting outcomes with everyone. Seeing what our network looked like in June, 2017, provides a basis of comparison for measuring how it grows and changes over the next two years, including changes that will occur as we integrate Cohort II into our work.

After the workshop in Tacoma, I analyzed the survey data from Cohort I and the project team members to create a social network analysis (SNA) map that shows our relationships to one another. Everyone who completed the survey shows up in the map. People show up as "nodes" (tiny colored squares) and relationships show up as lines between nodes, or what are called "ties" that represent our relationships. The crazy network that we represent appears at the top of this blog post; click on the image to see a larger version. Like a spider web that gets denser toward the middle, we demonstrate what is considered a "dense" network because we (us nodes) are pretty close together and we have lots of relationships with one another. Very cool, right?

To create this SNA map, I used UCINET, which is a publicly available network analysis tool that anyone can use. Going deeper, our spider web reveals where each of the 34 of us show up within the overall SNA map. The nodes are color coded to indicate different groups: Aqua nodes designate the PI team and project managers; Black nodes designate evaluation/research team members; and all the other colors designate the 2- or 3-member Cohort I Change Agent teams. To identify teams, the coding system designates the first number after T to identify the team and the second number designates a team member, so T11 designates Team 1, Member 1. (I am happy to provide specific information about where your team shows up in the map if you email me.)

We will be gathering SNA data annually until the end of the project so that we can understand how our network changes over time. At this point our map shows lots of ties between members of all three groups (Change Agents, evaluation/research team members, and PIs), with PIs closer to the middle of the map and Change Agent team members tending to be located fairly near each other but generally toward the outside of the web, with a few exceptions. Some Change Agents are located more toward the middle of the map, indicating that they already have quite a few connections with others. Over time, this will undoubtedly change, both as we integrate Cohort II and as our other relationships continue to grow.

I hope this SNA mapping piques your interest in the SAGE 2YC network, and I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to dive deeper. It will be fun to see how our network evolves using social network analysis as a tool to understand change. I'm excited about this work and I hope you are too. It's interesting to see these early impacts and very rewarding to know more change is coming as we work together to transform 2YC geoscience education!


Quardokus, Kathleen and Charles Henderson, 2015. Promoting instructional change: Using social network analysis to understand the informal structure of academic departments. Higher Education, v. 70, pp. 315-335.

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