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The role of social network analysis as a learning analytics tool in online problem based learning
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. University of Eastern Finland, Finland.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5881-3109
Number of Authors: 22019 (English)In: BMC Medical Education, ISSN 1472-6920, E-ISSN 1472-6920, Vol. 19, article id 160Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Social network analysis (SNA) might have an unexplored value in the study of interactions in technology-enhanced learning at large and in online (Problem Based Learning) PBL in particular. Using SNA to study students' positions in information exchange networks, communicational activities, and interactions, we can broaden our understanding of the process of PBL, evaluate the significance of each participant role and learn how interactions can affect academic performance. The aim of this study was to study how SNA visual and mathematical analysis can be sued to investigate online PBL, furthermore, to see if students' position and interaction parameters are associated with better performance.

Methods: This study involved 135 students and 15 teachers in 15 PBL groups in the course of growth and development at Qassim University. The course uses blended PBL as the teaching method. All interaction data were extracted from the learning management system, analyzed with SNA visual and mathematical techniques on the individual student and group level, centrality measures were calculated, and participants' roles were mapped. Correlation among variables was performed using the non-parametric Spearman rank correlation test.

Results: The course had 2620 online interactions, mostly from students to students (89%), students to teacher interactions were 4.9%, and teacher to student interactions were 6.15%. Results have shown that SNA visual analysis can precisely map each PBL group and the level of activity within the group as well as outline the interactions among group participants, identify the isolated and the active students (leaders and facilitators) and evaluate the role of the tutor. Statistical analysis has shown that students' level of activity (outdegree r(s)(133) = 0.27, p = 0.01), interaction with tutors (r(s) (133) = 0.22, p = 0.02) are positively correlated with academic performance.

Conclusions: Social network analysis is a practical method that can reliably monitor the interactions in an online PBL environment. Using SNA could reveal important information about the course, the group, and individual students. The insights generated by SNA may be useful in the context of learning analytics to help monitor students' activity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 19, article id 160
Keywords [en]
Social network analysis, problem-based learning, Blended learning, blended problem-based learning, Learning analytics
National Category
Educational Sciences Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170024DOI: 10.1186/s12909-019-1599-6ISI: 000468790900004PubMedID: 31113441OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170024DiVA, id: diva2:1329346
Available from: 2019-06-24 Created: 2019-06-24 Last updated: 2019-06-24Bibliographically approved

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