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Instructional Advice and Information Seeking Behavior in Elementary Schools: Exploring Tie Formation as a Building Block in Social Capital Development (WP-11-14)

James Spillane, Chong Min Kim, and Kenneth A. Frank

Education research consistently points to the importance of social capital in enabling instructional reform and school improvement. In schools and school districts, social relations can be a source of various resources including trust, expertise, opportunities for joint sensemaking, and incentives for innovation through peer pressure or sense of obligation. In this working paper, the researchers use data from 30 elementary schools in a midsized, urban U.S. school district to investigate social tie formation for advice and information-seeking regarding instruction in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. The study’s findings from multilevel p2 models suggest that while individuals’ personal characteristics (e.g., race, gender) are significantly associated with tie formation, the formal organization in terms of grade-level assignment and formal position is also significant, having a larger effect than personal characteristics. The authors conclude by discussing their findings and possible entailments for research, policy, and practice.

James Spillane, Professor, School of Education and Social Policy, and Faculty Associate, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Chong Min Kim, Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University

Kenneth A. Frank, Professor of Measurement and Quantitative Research Methods, Michigan State University

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