SOCIOMETRY IN THE CLASSROOM:

HOW TO DO IT



 

SOCIOGRAM INTERPRETATION AND TERMINOLOGY

Giving examples of sociogram terminology is one of the easiest ways of relating how to interpret a sociogram. All of the examples which follow are taken from FIGURE 14. One might note that the basic terminology which follows can be broken down into two categories, Stars, Isolates and Ghosts (A, B and C) are terms which describe individual children or INDIVIDUAL PHENOMENA, while mutual choices, chains, islands and triangles (D, E, F and G) are attributes of social interaction within a group or GROUP PHENOMENA.
 
  Note the two groupings which seem to have the same construction in FIGURE 14, each with a mutual choice and someone who is just hanging on: Harry - Jim - Mike and Millard - Sam - Victor. Turn now to FIGURE 16 or 17 and note the difference between the two groups. The Millard-Sam-Victor group maintains its individuality, remaining an ISLAND, while the Harry-Jim-Mike group is much more integrated with the group as a whole and is definitely no longer an ISLAND as indicated by the many nominations received by Jim from children outside the original ISLAND configuration. Victor is the only child in the other island who receives an outside nomination. The Millard-Sam-Victor combination proves to be a definite sub-group, while in the Harry-Jim-Mike combination, we see that Mike and Jim are mutual friends and Harry is an ISOLATE, not accepted even by those whom he nominates. Looking at Harry's position in FIGURE 17, we can observe that he seems to be attempting to find acceptance in widely separated groups. This is not unusual behavior for an ISOLATE who is desperately reaching out. Mike would also be designated an ISOLATE if it were not for his being chosen by Jim. Jim is definitely a STAR. Note that Jim is also accepted by Justin's friends, Sol and Norris, but not by Justin, even though Jim chose Justin. Actually Jim is the only outsider chosen by the Millard-Sam-Victor ISLAND, all of whom chose him after themselves. As is indicated by the lines leading toward his name, Justin is the person of status in this group, accepted by influential individuals, but not necessarily accepting them. Jim may very well be exerting more functional leadership with more people than Justin.

 Looking at the Girl's side of FIGURE 14 note that Laura would seem to be an ISOLATE, but in FIGURE 16 and 17 she shows up as a star or co-leader in the group. Also, contrary to Jim among the boys, she is accepted by the status leaders (those who are chosen by influential individuals but do not return the compliment). We also have here an example of an ISLAND pair, Donna - Diane. As can be seen in FIGURE 16 or 17, both Donna and Diane make identical second and third choices (Laura and Judy). This pattern of similar choices is not unusual in such situations. There are also two isolates among this group of girls, Gary and Prudence. Jerri would be an ISOLATE if it were not that Dael had chosen her. At this age, non-acceptance by the group and choice of girls by boys is often an indication of immaturity. This is less likely to be true of Nelda, who also choose a boy, as she has a high degree of acceptance among the girls, who at this age may prize maturity, particularly physical maturity. Moreover, since Norris has chosen her in return, it may be that these two are more mature as 6th graders than their fellow students.

 These example may serve to indicate the type of analyses possible when a sociogram has been plotted. Such analyses lead to further observation and study.
 
 

COEFFICIENT OF CLASSROOM COHESION

Vacha et al (1979) have described group cohesion as:

 "...the attraction structure of the classroom and involves not only individual friendships but also the attractiveness of the whole group for individual students. In cohesive classrooms, students value their classmates, are involved with and care about one another, try to help one another, and are proud of their membership in the group. Student cohesiveness can either support or undermine educational goals depending on the impact of other group processes in the classroom. For example, if students share counter educational norms that limit student participation or undermine academic achievement, their cohesiveness can work against the academic goals of the schools by making those norms extremely difficult to change. If a classroom group develops norms that support academic achievement, high cohesiveness can enhance education by providing a strong 'we feeling' which promotes conformity to student norms." (p. 221

 Vacha et al (1979) suggest three patterns of classroom social relations which they believe are typical threats to classroom cohesion. They include:
 
 


Upon sociometrically surveying a classroom through the use of the "positive" and "negative" nomination techniques, one should analyze the evidence for any serious social cleavages, in-/out-group rivalries and divisive individual competition which might threaten classroom cohesion. If these cliques are not present, then the "coefficient of cohesion" ("C") may be computed. This computation is an indicator of how strong the mutual ties are among the classroom members, and is based on the obtained number of mutual choices. Vacha et al (1979) suggest that "There is no objective criterion that can be used to determine whether or not a given coefficient of cohesion indicates the existence of a problem in any particular classroom." However, their experience in administering sociometric measures in many classrooms at the 4th through 6th grade levels provides a convenient rule of thumb. The coefficient of cohesion of 19 classes ranged from a high of 15.58 to a low of 3.83. Their median coefficient was 6.12, and the mean coefficient was 7.1. Based on their experience you may wish to consider a class as having a cohesion problem if it's coefficient of cohesion is below six or seven.

 The coefficient of cohesion can be calculated directly from sociometric data used to diagnose "positive nomination" data. All of the data necessary are contained in the sociogram (primarily as in FIGURE 16). To calculate the coefficient of cohesion, simply count the number of mutual positive choices made by all of the students, the total number of positive choices made by all of the students, and the number of students who completed the survey. The coefficient of cohesion can then be calculated using these totals according to the following formula:
 
 

C = Mq/Up = (15*.87)/(57*.13) = 13.05/7.41 = 1.76

 
 

Where:
 
 

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