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Wednesday, December 2 • 1:45pm - 2:45pm
A Gentle Introduction to Social Network Analysis

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Research suggests that social support is often a strong predictor of success (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010; Bandura, 1986). The personal interactions among families, friends, and others shape attitudes toward behaviors by communicating acceptance or rejection of the behavior. When social support is strong, a person feels pressure to adopt a behavior. Given the power of social support many Extension programs have adopted an ecological systems approach in programs like family development, nutrition, youth development, community development and leadership. The ecological systems approach emphasizes teaching family, friends, and other influential people surrounding an individual how to support positive behavior change. There may also be an emphasis on teaching individuals how to build their own social support network.

As program designers invest more resources into social support systems, a next logical step is to assess the success of the program. Potential evaluation questions may include the following:

· Who are the members of an individual's social support network?
· How strong is the members' influence on the individual?
· Has the individual's social support network evolved over the course of the program?

Social network analysis (SNA) is one tool that evaluators can use to answer these and similar questions about social support systems. At a fundamental level, SNA looks at individuals and the strength of their relationships. As more individuals are added to a support system, a web begins to emerge with thinner and thicker lines used to illustrate the strength of the relationships. SNA also allows evaluators to look at these relationships nested within groups like family and friends

The purpose of this session is to prepare participants to design, collect, and analyze social network data. As part of the session, participants will brainstorm potential evaluation questions that are appropriate for social network analysis. They will participate in a hands-on simulation illustrating different data collection methods, will be introduced to social network analysis software, and will analyze a simple data set. A computer with internet access is required for the analysis part of the workshop. If possible, participants without a computer or internet access will be paired with participants who do have access for the data analysis portion of the workshop. Resources that will be provided to participants include a reference sheet for the data collection methods demonstrated during the session; a beginner's guide to data analysis for the software used in the workshop; and a reference list of SNA resources and example SNA studies.

avatar for Melissa Cater

Melissa Cater

Assistant Professor, LSU AgCenter

Wednesday December 2, 2015 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Tango A

Attendees (6)