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Pictures are a good idea, but I am not sure you need to go through that much trouble. Kids in middle school years can easily identify their friendship networks. One suggestion would be to get rosters of the classes and assign random numbers to the student names on the roster then have students write the numbers on the survey. This will greatly facilitate data entry and will provide some degree of anonymity in the data. It also facilitates measuring more than one network. You could test your son's hypothesis: Are friendship networks the other students have lunch with or those he meets after school or some other group by asking all 3 network questions: Write the numbers of your friends? Write the numbers of those students you eat lunch with? Write the numbers of those students who you meet after school?
"Doherty, Joseph" wrote:
As they say in radioland, long-time lurker, first-time poster.
My 8th-grade son is planning to use SNA in his science fair project (with his father's encouragement and advice but with clear boundaries about who actually is doing the work). He wants to analyze and compare friendship networks in grades 4 through 7 at his school (n=240). I can point him to appropriate literature, and any specific recommendations would be helpful.
My real question is methodological--how to set up the study in a way that an 8th grader can execute it. I have advised him to gather data using photocopies of class pictures, and to ask each student to draw a circle around himself and around each of his friends. The problem is defining "friends" in a neutral way that avoids hurting anyone's feelings (the human subjects committee is the nun who is principal at the school). My son thinks his friends are the people he has lunch with or meets on the yard or after school. That sounds like a good neutral definition to me, likely to capture a snapshot of cliques, and something that can be readily understood by gradeschoolers. But I wonder if anyone else has any ideas?
Joseph W. Doherty
Empirical Research Group
UCLA School of Law
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